Upper Colfax Clothesline

Submitted by Reven Marie Swanson

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Client: Denver Arts and Venues

Location: Denver, CO, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $25,000

Project Team

Artist

Reven Marie Swanson

China Cat Sunflower, LLC

Public Art Agent

Rudi Cerri

Denver Arts and Venues, City of Denver

Overview

In consideration for this project on Park Avenue and Colfax,a sculpture has been built with six kinetic discs suspended on a steel cable between two swaying upright poles. The discs fashioned from 22-gauge mild steel and fitted bearings. Their finishes are brightly colored powder coats and enamel paints. There are solar-powered light fixtures installed at the top of the uprights. The mix of kinetic movement, color and bouncing patterns reflects the ‘moving energy” of Colfax Avenue – it’s commerce, culture, events, townships and people. The final installation dimensions: 25' x 18' x 7'.

Goals

US Hwy. 40 is a historical clothesline connection of commerce, culture, events, townships and people. US Highway 40 meant that Denver continued to grow as a major corridor from East to West. It ensured Denver the benefit of being a major crossroad. The history of a “moving culture” filled with automobiles, bikes, pedestrians and businesses. In a short lifetime, the tide of business, gentrification and re-development ebbs and flows like the roadway’s daily traffic jams.

As a site consideration, the challenges the sculpture must address in this location include the existing trees and canopy, local residents, competing visuals from commercial signs and be tamper-resistant. The site has both a ‘drive-by’ location as well as a pedestrian use.

The visual considerations of the“drive-by” and pedestrian thoroughfare, the sculpture must be simple in nature, but generate a bold statement. The background of Evergreen trees creates a strong canvas. The neighborhood culture that is dramatically shifting with renewed energy. The sculpture dances in a whimsical fashion. Discs moving in different directions, at different speeds reflects the daily engagement of light, sound and people, going places, doing things – having a good time on Colfax Avenue.

Process

Denver Arts and Venue published a RFQ. In a final presentation, I was awarded the contract. Once on task, a sculpture was designed to represent Colfax Avenue as a “clothesline” to the city, connects commerce, culture and transit energy. I interviewed local business owners, associations and residents. The Colfax Marathon uses the archway as an aid station. The residents volunteer to maintain the site.

Additional Information

Individualizing a public art site through the use of art, strengthens the relationship to the park to evoke not only personal associations, but lead to site stewardship. The art is meaningful, relevant and personal to connect the site to the broader community. Through a process of community engagement, I seek to identify the unique culture of intercity neighborhoods. It's through that research, I create site-specific work that is contemporary and one-of-a-kind.