Durango’s public art invites inspection

Courtesy of Jan Mayer-Gawlick

Bright green bikinis adorn the Florida roundabout cyclists Aug. 20 in this newly discovered photo. Action Line has a problem with state-sponsored art created to change people’s behavior. It’s called propaganda.

I couldn’t help but notice the sculptures of the cyclists in the roundabout on Florida Road. Based on Letters to the Editor, is it a good idea to have an example of cyclists riding five abreast in the middle of the road? Wouldn’t it have been better to have them riding single file with a Ford F-250 driving several feet from them? Sign me – L. Armstrong, Austin, Texas

Public art is an interesting thing. Some folks think art should offer “realistic” representations.

Take that bronze “Puck” statue across the street from Steamworks Brewing Co.

The sidewalk art critics are decidedly mixed on Puck, a loin-clothed figure gesticulating with his right hand, index finger pointing upward.

Puck is a character from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He is a young “shrewd and knavish sprite” and “merry wanderer of the night.”

Some have questioned Puck’s relevance to Durango. But his presence is the perfect juxtaposition.

Think about it. A sloppily dressed “wanderer of the night” prancing unsteadily and gesturing.

That pretty much describes the late-night Steamworks crowd – Puck is merely slipping on peanuts shells while ordering one more Third Eye Pale Ale.

Anyway, back to the bike sculpture in the roundabout.

Action Line has a problem with state-sponsored art created to change people’s behavior. It’s called propaganda.

If the roundabout were to feature bikes and trucks co-existing in peace and harmony, no one would believe it anyway.

Moreover, a truck in the middle of the roundabout would cause even more confusion.

Just the other day, Action Line was driving up Florida Road and a guy in a dark, late-model sedan approached the roundabout.

He stopped at the yield sign, which prompted some honking. Then he turned the wrong way, left into the roundabout.

Oncoming traffic screeched to a halt. Cars traveling down Riverview Drive hit their brakes. Action Line started laughing.

The guy then shifted to reverse, drove backward and re-entered Florida Road as stunned drivers looked on. His license plate was yellow and red. (Insert your own punch line here.)

All of which has nothing to do with art, but it was such a monumental blunder that Action Line could not help but share it.

The roundabout bike sculpture is a nice addition to our community, which boasts a million-dollar collection. You can view the portfolio at www.durangogov.org/art or better yet, go see it in person.

People of Durango are prone to interact with public art. Not a month goes by when a prankster punks Puck by putting on a stray hat or other adornments.

For several weeks last winter, the statue sported a fetching pair of winter gloves and matching scarf.

And so it is with the roundabout bicycle sculpture called “Endurance.”

The artwork, commissioned for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, inspired a humorous modification at its debut.

Recall this column in mid-August. A loyal reader asked about the fluorescent green bikinis added to each of the five bike-rider sculptures.

The incident was confirmed but not documented. So the call went out.

Somebody in Action Line Nation had to have taken a photo before image-conscious city crews got their pantaloons in a twist before the peloton parade.

And now we have it – thanks to our good friend Jan Mayer-Gawlick.

We can close the book on the Case of the Swimwear Switcharoo, and today being a holiday for many, go out and enjoy some public art.

Maybe someone will put a saddle on the horses in front of the train station.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you attend today’s plant sale and Action Line’s bulb lecture at 10 a.m. at the library.

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