Lawrence Argent Review-H. Nelson

Heather Nelson

Professor Van Lil

ARTH 3539-001

30 April 2012

Lawrence Argent Lecture Review

            The lecture review that I attended was the Lawrence Argent review on April 18th at the Denver Art Museum. The reason that I wanted to attend this lecture was because I thought it would be interesting to hear the artist speak about his work that I see all over the community of Denver and the surrounding area. I wanted to see the man behind the big blue bear. Lawrence argent, which works with huge structures and public spaces, bases his art on the way that he wants members of society to engage with the space. He hopes that all of his work reflects the history, culture, and values of a space or city and that that such meaning is able to resonate in many ways for different people. Therefore, his work combines the senses of imagination with identification.

The Big Blue Bear facing a building window in the Denver Convention center is one of the most well known public sculptures in Denver. Lawrence Argent created this sculpture, which now represents not only a city, but also a community. About the piece, Argent stated, “While toying with the notion of a “Convention Center” and visualizing the vast numbers of people moving through and participating with this environment, my proposal emerged as a core response to the following: Meeting place; Exchange of ideas, transference of information; Regional western art and the thought of what that is from a non-resident’s perspective; and the natural surroundings of Colorado” (Denver Org., 2012). The Convention Center truly is a place of meeting where all types of people in the Denver and surrounding community work, eat, learn, and engage with one another. Argent clearly saw this and wanted to add something that could give these people a sense of unity. When he described why he chose a giant blue bear, specifically, he said, “There’s iconic Colorado imagery – the Rockies, the Flatirons and all that – that I think is a little bit overused, a little passé. So I thought about what it is like to be a resident here and the journey one takes down either corridor (14th St. and Speer Blvd) when one notices there is a convention occurring” (Denver Org., 2012). This piece is brilliant but also funny to me. It is completely true that when people walk by something going on they either stare or look through the window intently, as if to make sure they aren’t missing out on something. This is where the sculpture got its name, I See What You Mean. To me, this name and sculpture is not only representing the community but also making fun at people’s normal habits and tendencies. Argent is not doing so critically, but simply adding an element of humor into the area.

Another work that he talked about was Whispers, which he created on the University of Denver campus in 1999. The over-sized sculptures are made of limestone and bronze and resemble lips of several students in his class. These lips are closed and supposed to appear mute. However, when a person gets close enough to the sculpture, sensors turn on previously recorded voices. Out of these hidden speakers, play actual lectures and public events on the campus. As a member of the faculty of the University, this project was important to Argent in showing the campus as a place of civil speech and listening (Argent, 2012). I wish I would have known that these sculptures were on the campus when I visited not too long ago. After going to this lecture, I definitely want to see these on the University of Denver campus before I move back to California.

The last piece that I want to talk about from the lecture is Lawrence Argent’s recently completed Your Move in 2011. The pieces are at the Calhoun Lofts (Graduate Housing) at the University of Houston. The sculptures resemble giant gourds made of bronze, grey granite and Indian red granite. There are three gourds in total, each around 12 feet tall and between 5-9 feet wide. This was placed at the graduate housing to resemble the success of university as “a place for the exchange of dialogue. A learning environment: it provides a site for people from all over the world to intellectually, mentally and physically come together” (Argent, 2012). Gourds were used because they signify growth and it is a plant that has been around for thousands of year, cultivating over time. Like Universities, they are used by most cultures, but rather than cultivating plants, Universities cultivate life and knowledge. I think this is a perfect and easily interpretive representation of the importance of education.

It seems to me, after hearing his lecture and seeing some of his works, that education and Universities as a whole are extremely important to Argent. The cultivation of life, knowledge, and dialogue between one another are significant parts of our lives and things that must be cherished.



Argent, L. The Denver Art Museum. Lecture (2012).

The man behind the big blue bear: An interview with lawrence argent. (2012, Apr 21). Retrieved from





2 Responses

  1. Most of Argents works are about the interaction with the viewer and the materiality of the piece. He does large scale public works that bring the viewers together and give them something in common. He wants to ignite a confidence in the viewers that they can ignite a different emotion or thought for themselves. His work is always done with much help of other people and almost always seems that he never really puts his hands on the large scale public pieces but is more of the creative director behind them and just watches as someone else puts them together for him. When you are commissioned and financially backed I guess you can do this, but then are you really the artist?

  2. I agree that Argent’s piece “I see what you mean” is humorous. It is such a typical human reaction to want to see what we cannot, and I like how this emotion was translated through an animal figure.

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