Come and See What We Mean
Denver's Public Art Program was established in 1988 as an Executive Order under Mayor Federico Pena. The order directed that 1% of any capital improvement project over $1 million undertaken by the City be set aside for the inclusion of art in the design and construction of these projects. Over the past years, the City has installed over 150 works of art under this program. These works, along with historic and donated works of art, make up the City's Public Art Collection. The Public Art Program is a program of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs, and is overseen by the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs.
Click on the image below to view the full Public Art Guide to Downtown Denver.
The Colorado Convention Center is honored to have their own wonderful collection of public art on-site. Information about the City's entire public art collection and opportunities for involvement in the public art process is available by visiting PUBLIC ART or calling (720) 865-4313.
I See What You Mean
View our Photo Gallery for more photos of Big Blue Bear.
Lawrence Argent “I See What You Mean”
The project is for a forty foot bear that is made from composite materials. The external surface is coated in a lapis lazuli blue, polymer concrete. The form and shape of the bear have been extrapolated from three dimensional digital files. The bear was digitally abstracted creating a faceted surface structure. The bear appears as if it is pushing its nose and paws against the glass of the building attempting to peer inside the Convention Center to see what is happening. Both from afar and within close proximity, curiosity and fascination are sensations that are instilled. In light of this humorous, lighthearted play there lies perhaps an essence that reflects nature upsetting the balance of the viewer and the viewed.
Erected: June 2005
Cost: $425,000 as part of more than $2.4 million for nine pieces of art commissioned under the city’s 1% of art ordinance
Height: 40 feet composed of six major sections (left leg, right leg, the belly, left arm with shoulder, right arm with shoulder and head)
Color: Lapis Lazuli Blue
Material: More than 4,000 Concrete & Polmer interlocking triangles hung on a hidden steel armature manufactured by San Francisco, California-based William Kreysler Associates
How: The Big Blue Bear was installed as part of Denver Office of Cultural Affairs’ Public Art Program. The Bear is the “product of computer modeling, the ursine sculpture began life as a child’s tiny plastic toy that Argent digitized with a lazer-scanning device, giving him a computer file that he could scale. Next he employed animation software to give the figure character and the correct pose. It enabled him to ‘reduce’ his data, abstracting the bear into a few thousand triangular facets. When he was finally satisfied with his design, he ‘printed’ it using a machine that produces three-dimensional thermoplastic models.
The resulting miniature that emerged was a brilliant, startling blue. The color delighted the artist and though the bear’s final shade evolved from that of the little prototype, from that moment on, “the bear had to be blue.”
Why: Argent thought about the Colorado imagery of the Rockies and the Flatirons. He “thought about what it was like to be a resident here and the journey one takes down either corridor (14th and Speer) and when one notices there is a convention occurring.” He was “interested in what might be going on in there the exchange of information, ideas and ideologies. But there was never any indication of what was going on in there” and from a photo he had seen in a newspaper the idea of a bear looking into the Colorado Convention Center was born.
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