DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald
DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald
A crane lifted five 800-pound sculptures of cyclists onto a pad at the Florida Road roundabout early Tuesday morning.
The job was pretty much done by sunrise, but then rust never sleeps.
The rusted steel sculptures are meant to look busy, as if the cyclists are hustling toward a finish line somewhere off in the distance.
Boulder-based sculptor Joshua Wiener said he was “focused on them being a blur. I wanted there to be motion. As you move around the piece, it becomes kinetic, but on a smaller scale, it looks like a blurred photograph. They’re flying.”
The city of Durango was required by contract with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a race across Colorado, to publicly recognize cycling. Wiener won a competition to create artwork for the roundabout, funded by a $25,000 donation from Bank of Colorado.
Wiener was paid $20,000 to cover his time, the materials and all his expenses while the remaining $5,000 covered the costs of building a base for the sculptures at the roundabout, said Sherri Dugdale, a city public information officer.
Wiener said he started work before he was even paid – something he usually doesn’t do – because he wanted to make sure the project was completed in time for the race, which will begin Aug. 20 in Durango.
The project required 24,000 welds because it is a layered composition of 4- to 9-inch steel bars.
“Each little piece is welded in six spots,” Wiener said. “It was a lot of time under the hood.”
The official dedication at 3 p.m. Aug. 17 will be something of a homecoming for Wiener, who lived in Durango for 10 years beginning in 1993. He rented a house off Florida Road with a bunch of guys who “lived on their bikes,” said his brother, Adam Wiener, who currently lives in Durango.
Joshua Wiener often took Florida Road to jobs downtown, where he met his wife, Gia, who worked at Ken & Sue’s. She now writes the proposals for his public art projects.
His brother Adam Wiener estimated that Joshua is working four to five public-art projects for cities across the country. So he is “stoked” to see his brother do a major project for Durango.
The Wiener family has always been immersed in art. Their mother, Madeline Wiener of Denver, is a stone sculptor who runs the Marble Institute of Colorado, a sculpting symposium in Marble, near Aspen.
Because he participated in the summer symposium, Joshua Wiener brought his cycling sculptures with him from his Denver studio. On his trip, he passed many cities that are also stops in the Pro Cycling Challenge.
Because the sculptures attracted so much attention on the road, he had his kids hold up signs explaining they were made for the Pro Cycling Challenge. He has a 7-year-old son, Anders, and 6-year-old daughter, Savannah.
The final leg of the trip was “hairy for sure” as he had to drive Red Mountain Pass near Ouray. Wiener then arrived in Durango on Monday night, parking the sculpture trailer outside his brother’s house on 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.
On Tuesday morning, the brothers brought their coffee from home because nothing was open before the 5 a.m. installation.
Going forward, Wiener said his project would not require much maintenance by the city. Because it is not painted, for example, it won’t require new coats of paint.
Wiener believes in no-fuss projects with long-lasting beauty.
“My background is in stone (sculpture),” Wiener said. “I’ve always had the approach that (art) should look as good generations down the road. I really love Durango. I would like to think when my kids move here to go to school, they would enjoy it the same way as when it was first installed.”