Unveiling ‘Interdependence’
Durango’s latest piece of public art goes on display

Preston Parrott’s sculpture ‘Interdependence’ graces the entrance to the Three Springs police substation./Photo by Stephen Eginoire

by Jules Masterjohn

When one thinks of art-making, large machinery like backhoes and skid steers don’t usually come to mind. Unless, of course, one is talking about outdoor sculpture. These were just a few of the tools needed to install Preston Parrott’s large-scale sculpture near the entrance of the new Three Springs Police Substation.

The 4,000-pound construction, “Interdependence,” is the newest addition to the City of Durango’s growing public art collection, and Parrott’s first foray into the realm of public art. His abstract sculpture joins Mick Reber’s recently installed “Meadow Guardian” as one of only a few nonrepresentational works in Durango’s collection of 20 sculptures.

Parrott, whose proposal was chosen over two other finalists, won the competition earlier this year. “When I applied, I didn’t think I would get it,” he said. “Then, after the finalist presentations, I knew I had a chance. I was surprised and excited when I got the call.”

For Parrott, that call meant the beginning of more than six months of immersion into the logistical concerns of translating a 12-inch model into a 12-foot tall, 2-ton, multipart, metal sculpture. He confided, “This project was more than I thought it would be.” After the last bolt was tightened on the sculpture’s concrete base, the project provided an incredible learning experience as well as a fine piece for his portfolio.

The idea for “Interdependence” all began with Parrott making numerous visits to the site at the substation. Eventually, the ideas behind “Interdependence” began to formulate, and he submitted his proposal to Durango’s Public Art Commission. Parrott felt certain that the sculpture’s proportions needed to be taller than wide. He also recognized that, though the site is fairly open now, the area is expected to grow. Therefore, the sculpture needed to be large enough to visually hold its own amidst a denser, less-rural future landscape.

Preston Parrott stabilizes the center form of his sculpture as the backhoe lefts it from the trailer to its new home near the Three Springs Police Substation./Courtesy photo

The concept Parrott initially considered for the sculpture was a flame. “Each time I was at the site, I kept seeing a flame-shape in my mind. I also kept thinking, ‘That’s schmaltzy.’” Delving into the most difficult part of the creative process, he pushed beyond the most obvious solutions and began entertaining other forms for the sculpture. Knowing people will infer meaning, he was careful about the shapes and materials he used. Given the sculpture’s location, he knew that he wanted to design a sculpture that looked strong yet yielding, protective yet soft.

The artist’s understanding of civil servants such as officers and rescue workers was enhanced by a police officer he met four years ago while attending the Leadership La Plata program. “Most people have such a polarized view of police. I didn’t want to play to either side. I wanted to offer an alternative viewpoint.”

He worked up five different designs using computer-aided tools. Each was either “too dominating or too soft.” From these investigations into symbolism and material came the sculpture we see today.

As its title “Interdependence” suggests, the sculpture is intended to evoke ideas about the nature of community. The artist chose a number of visual elements to reinforce this concept. For instance, the radiuses of all the curved forms are identical, meant to highlight the belief that we are all in this together. Parrott chose perforated metal as the center of the sculpture for transparency and to symbolize the way we perceive life: the world looks different from different perspectives. The outer four arched forms that guard the center are conceptually and visually connected through steel rods that pass through them. These “wings” imply communication flowing between the various aspects in a community. To suggest the dynamic nature of living together and emphasize a sense of movement, the patina, or colorant, applied to the outer forms are a subtle mix of amber, green and blue within the predominant black hue.

With the concept and materials secure in his mind, and the $15,000 public art commission check in his name, Parrott took the drawings to an engineer who helped guarantee that the structure would not turn into a tuning fork under 50 mph winds. Plans and materials then went to a structural welder for fabrication. Fast forward many months and the five elements that comprise “Interdependence” were transported to Three Springs, where a crew assembled them into the finished sculpture.

“It couldn’t have been better,” said Parrott. “I am elated with the whole experience. This was really a community project. So many people in the community wanted to be and were involved. It chokes me up when I think about all the people that came out to help.” •

A dedication for “Interdependence” will be held Fri., Sept. 25, at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Three Springs Police Substation, located on W. Wilson Gulch Dr. Preston Parrott will be present to meet the public, and coffee and donuts will be served.

 

 

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