I've never been one for buzzwords. Terms like "juicing" and "selfie" leave a sour taste in my mouth (which is not to say I've never uttered them); they tend to oversimplify, and thus tire quickly—only to be replaced by the next big thing. But in the case of one of the Arvada Center's latest exhibitions, I think an art world buzzword is actually an apt description: placemaking.
According to the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces, "Placemaking is how we collectively shape our public realm to maximize shared value.... [It] involves the planning, design, management and programming of public spaces." In other words, revamping our public areas into valuable spaces, particularly for creative initiatives. Or, precisely what curator and exhibition manager Collin Parson and his team did with Arvada's Unbound: Sculpture in the Field, which opened in June and will be on display through September 2015.
For 38 years, a field directly south of the Arvada Center has sat undeveloped, with native grasses growing tall and wild. Parson teamed up with the Museum of Outdoor Arts—experts in site-specific sculpture placement—to co-curate an exhibition of works by 15 Colorado artists. The 27 modern pieces, which vary in size—one is 27-feet tall—and crafted from mediums as diverse as granite and wood, represent three generations of local sculptors. (The artists were permitted to submit two works.) Visitors can sign up for a cell phone audio tour to listen to the artists talk about their works, inspiration, and process as they stroll the quarter-mile path around the field. Each sculpture has a manicured path around it as well, so you can view the work as a 360-degree experience.
"I'm the son of a sculptor," Parson, a talented artist in his own right, says. "There aren't many opportunities for them to exhibit large-scale works like this." He hopes that the space will become a permanent exhibition area, with artists renewing their loans or creating new works—or new artists adding their pieces—after the 'closing' next year. "This is a destination point," Parson says. "Fifty thousand-plus cars drive by Wadsworth Boulevard every day. If we can just get a few to pull over and engage..."
Click through the slideshow above for a peek at a handful of works on display as part of Unbound.
More outdoor art: Pick up the September issue of 5280—on newsstands tomorrow—to read about some of our favorite pieces of public art in the downtown Denver area.
—Images courtesy of the Arvada Center
Follow senior associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.