The Brushstroke in the Sky
The skillful speed and freedom of a painter’s brush making a purposeful mark was the initial vision that arose as metaphor for the total experience of a bike race. The spatial intent of the form was to create a visual bridge between the plain of the park, the mountain backdrop and sky. This vision was held and honed through a 4-year design process, involving adherence to stringent code and engineering requirements for the structure.
The brushstroke translates as a spiraling aluminum ribbon sailing above the two stone supports. In plan view, the ribbon traces the s-curve in the Boulder course. The vertical lifts of the spiral are, in the language of this piece, the racers in chase. The curls lean forward in effort toward the finish, with the impossible synchrony of the peloton in the trio of joined arcs, and one off the front in a breakaway. Like the width of a brushstroke that varies with the intensity of pressure from the painter’s hand, the ribbon varies continually in each axis along its 50 linear feet, giving a dynamic sense of the sustained drama of the race. The leading stone arch is the ‘Winners’ Circle’, a play on the fact that winners’ names become written ‘in stone’, i.e. in history. We all can walk through this arch in the plaza. This is an invitation to walk through the passage, as in each of our lives there is an opportunity to lean into our challenges and to excel. Lastly, the plants specified for the raised bed defining the Northwest boundary of the plaza were selected for the motion of their flower-stems in the wind, like a vast community of fans cheering the racers on.
The choice to pursue an abstract or metaphorical path in development of this work, rather than take a representational approach, was based on understanding of many principles of art and landscape architecture. Here are three:
First, It is the nature of the mind to move on to other things as soon as it has identified and named a phenomenon it perceives. Conversely, when a form shucks off these associations and stands as a unique phenomenon in space, our relationship to it tends to be more open, curious and thoughtful, and more time is likely to be spent in its presence. This is deemed to be of value to the subject of the work, described in colorful detail on the “Talking Stone’ element of the plaza, as well as to the surrounding park which it must also serve as new focal point and functional amenity.
Second, what irrefutably says ‘bicycle’ to us now may become a quaint expression as years go by. Though historical quaintness or novelty is not in itself a bad thing, a more enduring relevance was desired here.