Spring brings with it a desire to be outdoors. Many Northern Colorado towns host Friday night walks where people take to the city streets, pop in and out of specialty shops, galleries, and/or museums, and partake of refreshments (often free). Daytime suggests a stroll to view art in public places. You’ll
find bronze sculptures, wall murals, and even footprints or small blocks of art in the sidewalks. On a beautiful day, choose a city from the list below and view their many works of art.
At the end of this article, study the list of questions to ask yourself that help you look, understand, and enjoy these great works.
Lyons, Longmont, Niwot, and Boulder’s art in public places is listed on the Boulder County Arts website - http://www.bouldercountyarts.org/publicart for a map and http://www.bouldercountyarts.org/publicart_list for a list of works. Click on the name of a piece to view a photo, see its location, and read information.
In Lyons find Sally King’s Bears at 5th Avenue and High. Constructed from wood and stucco pigmented with paint and dyes, the grouping surrounds the viewer. The permanent installation seems to invite a visual conversation with the bears. On the west side of the Visitor’s Center, a mural titled Lyons, Past Present and Future was created by a team of artists coordinated by Cathy Rivers and Candace Shepard. The medium consists of sandstone masonry, mosaic, hand painted tiles, and handmade tiles. The mural covers 900 square feet of surface.
Longmont’s fifty-three public art pieces range from free standing sculptures atop pedestals to footprints in the sidewalk. Find a listing and photo of each at http://www.ci.longmont.co.us/museum/aipp/sculptures.htm.
For pictures of some of Boulder’s art in public places check out this blog, http://www.colorado.edu/admissions/undergraduate/blog/boulder-public-art. You’ll see a fierce dragon, graffiti mural, rooster, and list of other works.
Niwot’s Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art hosts an outdoor sculpture garden. Works by twenty nationally known western artists are displayed along a winding path where benches offer a place to relax and study these life-sized to bigger-than-life pieces. Admission to the museum is free so take advantage and view the western art inside.
Estes Park provides changing exhibits in various venues throughout the city. Sites include the Conference Center, EVRPD 18 Hole Clubhouse, The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Center/YMCA of the Rockies, the Public Library, and other locations. Find their exhibit schedule at http://www.estesarts.com/Schedule.asp.
Loveland’s parks, street medians, grocery stores, and other locations display over three hundred works. Besides the Visual Arts Commission who oversees the purchase of art works, private contributions by arts organizations, citizens and artists have contributed 72% of the value of the current collection. Walk through Benson Sculpture Park or take in the annual Governor’s Art Show and Sale, hosted by the Rotary Clubs at the Loveland Museum/Gallery (April 28 – June 2 - admission $5) and see a wide range of art for purchase. A list of Loveland’s public art and locations appears at www.cityofloveland.org/index.aspx?page=800. On the site, also find a listing of decorated transformer boxes or pick up a brochure at the museum.
Fort Collins’ art in public places includes Pianos About Town. Several artists decorate the pianos, which are then located throughout the city. People are encouraged to play the instruments and cautioned to close the keyboard and/or cover the piano in poor weather. Other art works’ locations can be found at this website www.fcgov.com/artspublic/pdf/small-map.pdf.
In order to really look, understand, and enjoy the art, ask yourself some of these questions:
- What medium did the artist use – bronze, marble, wood, other?
- Walk around the piece. What is the focal point of each view?
- Is the object in proper proportions?
- Is it rough or smooth?
- How does light affect it at different times of the day?
- What catches your eye when you first look at the art?
- What is the subject of the work?
- Are the colors the same as we see in nature?
- How do the colors affect you?
- What medium was used?
- Are the lines bold outlines, shapes, or implied lines?
- Is the composition symmetrical or asymmetrical?