The Hardscaper Blog:

Concrete in Public Art

Pictured above – Village of Five Parks

Public Artwork in Denver

Some of Denver’s most popular art pieces include DIA’s “Blue Mustang” by Luis Jiménez, “I See What You Mean” (Blue Bear) by Lawrence Argent and the three-piece “Cloudscape” sculpture by Christopher Lavery. Unknown to many, Denver requires 1% of all Public Improvement Project budgets be toward public art. As of now, over 400 public artworks call Denver their home, costing over $40 million. This policy, established in 1988, was meant to celebrate Denver’s history and diversity, as well as enhance Denver’s identity.

Our city understands that the key to being memorable is adding artwork to parks, airports, malls, and street corners. As of now, 50-plus artists work on their pieces to encourage and inspire citizens as well as expose them to the creativity of their neighbors. As we have mentioned before, placemaking changes the experience of every visitor. So, as a decorative concrete company, what does this mean for us?

Our Involvement

Over the past 15 years, Colorado Hardscapes has collaborated with a variety of external and in-house artists. Though not every art-based job we do involves Denver’s 1% budget, the projects we complete still hold significance to the reputation of this city. Furthermore, decorative concrete is an extension of structural concrete and adds a unique fingerprint to any location. Did you know that concrete in public art exists all over the Front Range? The following list includes our examples of such in collaboration with local artists.

“Los Seis de Boulder” – Jasmine Baetz

Los Seis (“The Six”) is a beautiful memorial honoring six student activists who were devastatingly killed in car bombings 40 years ago. In 2019, we constructed the concrete monument as a blank canvas for artist Jasmine Baetz to add mosaic portraits. Each mosaic includes a dedication to the members of Los Seis students. The CU Boulder campus is the perfect place for this seven-foot-tall piece to receive the recognition it deserves.

“Sing and Glide” – Jeanne Quinn

If you’ve been to Confluence Park recently, you may have noticed a new addition of concrete in public art. It now houses Jeanne Quinn‘s public sculpture, “Sing and Glide“. Our collaboration with the artist involved sending the sculpture back and forth through the entire construction process. We coated styrofoam spheres in 1” thick concrete with GFRC for Quinn to cover in mosaic tiles. We also installed the bubbles into the location’s seat wall. According to Quinn, the purpose of this sculpture was to encourage people to go where the Cherry Creek and South Platte intersect.

Chinook Trails Sundial – John Carmichael

Large school play space with sun dial Microtop - ST Concrete Overlay - Colorado Hardscapes

John Carmichael specializes in the construction of sundials in flatwork, on walls, on pedestals, and in windows. At Chinook Trails, a school in Colorado Springs, we worked with Carmichael to develop the colored bands on the sundial pictured above. By using specialty topical stains, we precisely formed each colorful band along with the numbers lining the edge. The sundial’s large-size makes for an extremely interactive experience but remains a walkable space for the students.

Hibiscus at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital – Mary Williams & John King

Working primarily with Mary Williams, we poured the designed flower petals and vertical offshoot. The design called for a bright-red, colored concrete. We used red integral color with colored crushed glass which ended up matching the spinning “anther” perfectly. This art piece brings excitement to this hospital without taking up too much room in the courtyard. Though this was a small project, it adds a lot to the location.

“I Too Know The Eagle” – Rik Sargent

Artist Rik Sargent and Colorado Hardscapes have worked on multiple statues together, but this statue pictured above is one of our older collaborations. Located in Cherry Creek North, “I Too Know The Eagle” is fashioned on a large GFRC rockwork base. The color choice made by Colorado Hardscapes complements the bronze statue. Utilizing GFRC, we shaped the rock exactly to the base of the statue.

Goals for the Future

Through our journey as a corporation, we have learned that crossing decorative boundaries is our forte. Therefore, what better way to do so than to concentrate our innovation on the visions of artists? Moving forward, we hope to grow our public art portfolio and types of mediums used for them.

If you or someone you know needs a partner for concrete in public art, contact us at 303•750•8200 or email us at [email protected]. Also, did you know two new public art projects are already in the pipeline for 2020? Make sure to check our social media and job profile page to stay updated!