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Artist Jay Dougan’s  “Exoskeleton” sits on display in Riverfront Park and is one of 14 pieces of public art currently on display in Durango The piece is part of the Durango’s Public Art Commision’s Art on Loan program, where works are loaned to Durango by artists for 18 to 24 months./Photo by Steve Eginoire

In the public eye

Public art flourishes all over Durango
by Stew Mosberg
The City of Durango’s public art program currently includes 14 works. Administered by the Public Art Commission (PAC), the collection is spread throughout a wide area ranging from the Animas River Trail and Downtown Durango to the La Plata County Airport and Three Springs.
The art incorporates a broad range of mediums, from Debra Greenblatt’s columns of shattered glass, to bronze sculptured figures and painted polychrome mountain lions as well as colorful mosaic fish along the Animas River.

Obtaining public art involves funding from designated city construction projects plus donations from private and corporate entities. Each donation of actual artwork is considered individually and can be accepted as permanent or on a long-term basis.

One newly instituted resource is an Art on Loan Program where artists lend work to the city for an extended period of time, currently 18 to 24 months. Although the artists are responsible for getting the work to Durango as well as removing it at the end of its stay, they do receive a small stipend to assist in its transportation and, more importantly, they gain exposure and an opportunity to have it purchased by interested parties.

According to Carol Martin, local artisan and present chairwoman of the Durango PAC, the Art on Loan program was created as a way to obtain more art without major expense to the community. The City’s role is to provide the space and in the case of sculpture, a base on which it can be mounted. Martin said that before embarking on the loan program, the committee studied similar plans around Colorado and decided to extend the call for submissions around the nation, albeit with preference given to regional artists.

Durango’s initial program includes work by local artists Jenny Treanor, Kelly Hurford, Bryan Saren and Jay Dugan, plus Denver artist Joshua Weiner. All five of their pieces are metal or mixed-media sculptures and temporarily reside in Schneider and Rotary parks along the Animas River Trail or as in Weiner’s case, on East Second Avenue.
Jenny Treanor is a sculptor who uses found objects in her work, which often represents a theme relevant to a specific locale or subject. With the Art on Loan program, she saw an opportunity to optimize her connection to the Animas River. Scrap material she used in the creation of one of her pieces was found in or near the water during the construction of the River Trail. Treanor appropriately titled the work, “Remnants Revised.” The art had been at a gallery in Madrid, N.M., but she lent it to the Public Art project and had it placed close to where the original scrap was found.

“I felt honored to have been included with other more established artists. I’m hoping the City will buy my piece because of its origin and how well it suits the location,” she said.

Jay Dougan, assistant professor of art at Fort Lewis College, had submitted sculptures to several other art on loan programs in the past and was glad to see Durango start one of its own. On hearing the call for entries, Dougan submitted digital files of one of his existing sculptures because, as he explains, “The short turn around time works if your sculpture already exists, as opposed to submitting a model or a proposal and then having to execute it.”

Included within the PAC’s Master Plan are several goals and objectives that guide public art and its rationale. The Durango Public Art Commission’s mission is to use public art to: foster community values; engage citizens in the public process in meaningful and responsive ways; serve as an economic catalyst; and to make artistic experiences accessible to a diverse population. It is also hoped that the art adds to the beautification of the town and sends a subliminal message to locals and visitors alike, that Durango is an art friendly, culturally sophisticated community.

Maps will soon be available at various locations around town to help locate the art on loan and will accompany the existing map depicting all public art in the area.

Martin points out that later this year, there will be additions to the new demonstration garden next to the library above the river. In addition to work by professional artists, the installations will include work by high school students and are expected to change on a bi-annual basis.


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