Hurry, public sculptures being installed at Ent Center won’t be there long

By: Michelle Karas
December 19, 2017 Updated: Today at 4:20 am

More than 22 years after local sculptor Starr Kempf took his life, the public will be able to visit and reflect on a few of his monumental works outside the soon-to-open Ent Center for the Arts.

Three of Kempf’s massive steel sculptures – “Sunrise Serenade,” “Metronome” and “Space Needle” – were installed by crane Monday on a sculpture green at the new cultural and performing arts center at 5225 N. Nevada Ave. on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. They will be displayed for two years.

Kempf’s towering futuristic structures of silver-painted steel reach skyward 30 to 50 feet and are designed to interact with the wind and landscape. Each took him up to three years to create.

“The legacy of this artist is really significant to this community,” said Daisy McGowan, director of UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art and curator of the public sculpture program. “Starr Kempf died in 1995. His family is very proud of his work, and I think this has been very healing for them. This is an opportunity to celebrate what’s amazing here in Colorado Springs.”

The sculpture garden, featuring works by a rotating selection of regional and national sculptors, is part of the Art WithOut Limits public sculpture program launched in 2008 and curated by the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art.

The first round of outdoor sculptures includes pieces by Kempf and three other artists. Their work will be temporary, displayed on the Ent Center lawn for six months to two years.

“We’re leaving them up long enough so you can develop a relationship with the work,” McGowan said. “We want to invite people to the Ent Center over and over for new experiences.”

All of the sculptures will be off ADA-accessible pathways, viewable by those attending a center performance, visiting the sculpture garden as a destination or wandering over from the University Village Colorado shopping center across Nevada Avenue.

“I’ve really been inspired by public sculpture gardens that go beyond,” McGowan said, pointing to the Arvada Center sculpture garden and Madison Square Park in New York City as successes. “We had an opportunity with the Ent Center, this 92,000-square-foot building that’s nestled in a semiarid desert landscape. We thought, ‘What else can we do here? What else is possible?'”

Linda Fleming’s “The Cloak of the Motion,” a 2,000-pound flame-cut steel sculpture, was the first to be installed and will be on display through December 2018. The artist, who divides her time among California, Colorado and Nevada, also will have an exhibit at the new gallery space in the Ent Center next fall.

“ROAM,” by Detroit-based artist Jon Geiger, is a 26-foot animated white neon tumbleweed that “finds new ways to activate the landscape,” McGowan said. It will be installed in early January and will stay six months.

“It will be visible from the highway and will attract attention in a visible way,” she said.

Two installations by Massachusetts-based artist Craig Colorusso will be installed in January and displayed for a year. “Moon Phases,” a kinetic sculpture and sound artwork, will “play music based on the fullness of the moon, beginning in silence with the New Moon and slowly filling with sonic density, adding notes until its fullest during the full moon,” McGowan said.

Colorusso’s solar-powered “Sun Boxes” also will be on display but brought inside during wet weather because they’re made of wood.

“When they’re together, they make a chorus. When you stand in front of them, they stop making sound,” McGowan said. “Collectively, they make a Bb chord. It’s soothing, similar to yoga or meditation.”

She said she envisions collaborative possibilities with dance or nighttime yoga.

“What I love about public art is these interactions that allow you to see the world in a different way,” she said. “An art gallery can be intimidating to some people. But when you put art into public places, obviously it’s more accessible. It’s also interactive for our students.”

Significant funding for the program was provided by the Bee Vradenburg Foundation for the Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation. GOCA must raise funds for this and all programs through grant requests, sponsorships and individual donations. The program is not funded by university or state money.

The Ent Center for the Arts will open to the public in January.