Annie Davis – Lecture Review 2

An artistic icon of Colorado and its surrounding areas, Lawrence Argent is most known for his public art displays. On April 18th, 2012, he visited the Denver Art Museum to share some of the ideas behind his works. It was interesting to see the artist behind many of the pieces that surround our communities.

Generally, Argent appropriates his ideas to a group of builders or teammates, since his pieces are so large scale and consist of heavy objects. He focuses mainly on the inquisitive ideal of material and materiality, taking something and creating it in an entirely different way than what we are used to seeing. For example, on the University of Denver campus Argent has created several benches, some supported in the air and some on the ground for people to sit on, which are molds of human lips. Sensors detect when a person sits on the bench and trigger a recorded conversation to begin.

The idea behind this piece is the relationship of the bench and the history of who has sat upon it. When hearing the past conversation, the viewer is meant to experience something that has previously happened before they arrived at the same spot. One can then take a moment to appreciate the velocity and inevitability of time passing. It is something you don’t immediately think about until the idea is presented.

The most iconic work of Argent’s is “I See What You Mean”, which is a large-scale sculpture of a bear that is on its hind legs, peering into the Convention Center. It was first constructed to show a non-western symbol of Colorado, putting images of cowboys and frontiers to rest. It is nearly two stories tall, with its paws up against the windows peering in to see what is happening inside. The bear itself is a royal blue with a pixilated body, somewhat mirroring the shape of the Flatiron Mountains. This piece was selected out of many others to represent Colorado and was successful in doing so.

Argent was also commissioned to do a public art piece in the main district of Fort Collins. It is a water piece that is engineered to shoot spurts of water into a small catcher, creating a temporary arch. The foundation of the piece is made from stone, which became slippery when wet. The town had to coat the stone in a non-slip product so children could not slip and hurt themselves. Though it took away from the initial image, the overall effect is what matters most. It is incredible that Argent was able to design something to shoot water so precisely from one location to another.

Generally, Lawrence Argent is commissioned to create public art in Colorado. His works reflect the spirit of the state in a way never imaged by others. He often sculpts with stone, but is known to vary from this at times. Argent is a modern artist that evokes proud emotions of all viewers and, unlike many, is able to create a piece enjoyed by all societies.

One Response

  1. I really enjoyed reading your paper and wish I had the opportunity to hear Argent speak. “I See What You Mean” is one of my favorite works of public art because I feel that it successfully appeals to a mass audience. It is fun to see but also carries meaning and forces its audience to consider the relationship between modernity and the unknown, which is a pertinent issue to life in Colorado. Before reading your paper however, I was unaware of Argent’s “bench project” at the University of Denver. This sounds like an amazing project that brings the audience into the artwork. In addition, it provides each viewer with their own personal experience and begs them to consider how other people interpret it. You do a really good job of describing both the physical and conceptual properties of Argent’s work.

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