Public Odd Art in Denver
Are odd works of public art just your cup of tea? Then this is the list for you!
If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in Denver, then you’ve almost certainly seen one of our sculptures. Public art can be one of the best ways for a city to develop its identity. If that’s the case here, then Denver’s identity is certainly unique! The issue that can often arise with public art is that what one person considers a masterpiece, another considers a weird eyesore. No matter which side you fall on though, Denver’s sculptures are certainly unique and individual, making them all wonderful in their own rights. Take a look through our list of odd art pieces in Denver, then let us know what you think of them!
“Mustang” by Luis Jimenez
This giant mustang is the first Colorado local to greet travelers who fly into Denver International Airport. It’s 32 feet tall and arguably one of the most hated pieces of odd art in Denver. The Mustang was originally commissioned in 1992 for $300,000 and took over 14 years to develop. Tragically, in 2006 the statue fell on 66-year-old Luis Jimenez and pinned him, killing him on his studio floor. The statue’s red eyes almost look haunted, as if it knows what it has done wrong (I’ll admit, I’m biased against this horse).
‘Affectionately’ known as Bluecifer to many locals, many speculate that it will kill again! Again, that’s a joke, but a lot of people really don’t like this guy. This statue is the subject of a lot of controversy, and a lot of people thought it was in bad taste to erect it after the death of Jimenez. However, in the end Jimenez’s son completed the work and it is displayed in his honor.
“Dancers” by Jonathan Borofsky
Standing just outside the Denver Center for the Performing arts are two six-story-tall white aliens. Don’t worry, it’s not an invasion – they’re another one of Denver’s unique pieces of odd art. Much like the Blue Mustang, there is much debate about these bright white statues. They have been the subject of many people’s complaints and criticisms, while others find them charming and even beautiful. There are five speakers set into the base of the sculpture that play “Let’s Dance”continuously. The song was specially composed, performed, and recorded by Jonathan Borofsky and Samuel Conlogue. The music is meant to make the statues seem to be in a state of perpetual dance.
“Articulated Wall” by Herbert Bayer
I’ll be honest with you. Growing up in Denver, I’d drive by this particular sculpture and always call it the french fry tower. I didn’t appreciate fine art back then. This is definitely one of the more well-known pieces of odd art in Denver, and it’s also one of the oldest. It was originally erected in 1985, and it’s bright yellow color makes it stand out against the city. This sculpture is over 50 feet tall, making it even more visible from the surrounding area. It’s sparked a lot of discussion over the years with people wondering what it’s meant to represent. Is it a stack of french fries, as six-year-old me so firmly believed, or perhaps a tower of cheese or legos? The piece was constructed for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, and is held together with a mast taken from an aircraft carrier.
“I See What You Mean” by Lawrence Argent
I’m going to admit a full and honest bias here: I LOVE this sculpture. Lawrence Argent’s piece is commonly known as the Big Blue Bear. I first encountered it in high school, and immediately fell in love. The nickname for the piece of odd art tells you exactly what it is: a large blue bear. The 40-foot-tall sculpture stands outside the Convention Center downtown, and has become something of an icon of the Mile High City. His stare into the center was intended to bring a sense of whimsy to what would otherwise have been a normal, bland convention center.
In an interview, Argent stated that, in his eyes, “it’s kind of like the bear needs the building and the building needs the bear.” I agree completely, sir. This is also one of the few pieces of odd art in Denver that hasn’t sparked intense controversy. It didn’t kill its creator, it doesn’t creep people out, people don’t argue over what it is. It’s just a big, cuddly-looking bear who wants to say hello – what could be controversial about that?
“National Velvet” by John McEnroe
Unlike the Big Blue Bear, there is a lot of debate over what this piece of odd art is. This sculpture is located at the base of the 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge. As the name would indicate, it’s a bright red sculpture, and people really aren’t sure what it’s supposed to be. Some have said it resembles a Christmas Tree, while others think it looks more like a pile of sausages. Yet other residents have found that it looks like certain body parts, or think it’s some kind of a cruel joke.
I will agree with what many people have said – I don’t get this one. It honestly does look like a pile of meat to me. Does that mean it’s ‘bad’ art? Of course not. Art and beauty are subject things, and for that reason I enjoy this sculpture. What is the point of art if not to challenge us and spark discussions? That said, if any has an explanation for this one, please drop us a comment and explain it to me!
Looking for some other odd, weird, or generally strange things in Colorado? Click here to visit our list of Quirky Colorado Attractions!