Client: Private Collector
Location: Gunnison, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $300,000
Private Interior Designer, Aspen, CO
Over 10 years these collectors brainstormed ideas for sitting by the creek running next to their rural home. Their initial idea was a marble table inlayed with indigenous art that they could sit around. They came to me to carve it. However, once the goals list evolved through this process, the idea expanded into a large sculptural seating environment. One conceptual idea I proposed was called, “Who has been here before us?” This concept is inspired by ancient bison boneyards close by, a 40' long x 30' wide x 8' tall limestone mythical beast!
The success of this project was how customized client tastes were incorporated by finding lifestyle preferences, establishing needs and aesthetic goals for the finished sculpture, walking the site and responding to their architecture & art collection.
The wife has back problems. A real issue was if she could get comfortable. I built a foam mock-up of a sculpted vertebrae ergonomically carved to her actual back to try out. It fit perfectly!
The house architecture was designed with mining, farm house and historical rural references using limestone in many different ways. I used limestone to connect with those themes.
Concept, philanthropy and education is paramount for collector daily inspiration. They support the fledgling paleontology department at the University, so imagine this: A mythical beast, having fallen thousands of years ago, is now seen in abstracted skeletal form- petrified and partially buried on this land. Effected through time, indigenous “ancient ones” have passed through this place, gathering themselves and making their petroglyph marks on the bones. Now, these present day inhabitants add their own history of love of family, education and art. Multi-leveled meaning has been accomplished through art.
The interior designer who brought these collectors to my studio has worked with me for 25 years and has worked with them for 20 years. She had introduced my work to them 3 years before they approached me. Within 15 minutes of meeting, we discovered we were all mid-western and they retired from an advertising business of 40 years. We looked at life through the same lens. I know that this is why they trusted me once we moved beyond their preliminary ideas. This was also a strong design collaboration because of their aesthetic experience. That was great! The project just flowed.
Frank Swanson, Swanson Stone, did my pre-cutting in his vast commercial stone cutting operation in Sedalia, CO. He is an artist himself, understands ideas and saved me 2 years of hard labor! A diamond saw, the size of your house that Frank built himself, removed the bulk excess stone from the outside edges of my forms! I then finished the balance of the project using hand tools over the next year. I recommend him to anyone!
In every artist's career there is a dream project. This was it for me! I have never had a client ask me to "let my creativity run free". I had always wanted to incorporate more conceptual directions in my long time studio practice but didn't know how to get there myself. They trusted themselves so I could run free. We weren't in a hurry. I could dream big and I did! What is the result of this process? Better art. They really got it and got the best of me.