"Justice center artist
$1.2 million job goes to New York-based Dennis Oppenheim
Denver's Percent for Art program has awarded its largest
public commission since it began almost 20 years ago: $1.2 million to
artist Dennis Oppenheim to provide an overall vision for the Denver
Justice Center complex.
New York-based Oppenheim also will create
a piece to tie together the various parts of the center.
him as an artist, and not particularly for the proposals he brought
in," said Kendall Peterson, public art administrator for the Denver
Office of Cultural Affairs.
One model showed a large scale of justice,
and the other a giant "lady justice" figure whose angular skirt echoed
the folded glass facade being discussed for the courthouse.
of the selection panel questioned those works, although not Oppenheim's
approach to integrating art into the whole campus. The total art budget
for the justice center is about $2.2 million.
"We hired him because
of his background," Peterson said.
"He has a reputation of being
able to accomplish projects of this scale. We are confident in his ability
to collaborate with the architects, work within the parameters of the
project and come up with something brilliant."
Oppenheim is known
for large public projects in cities such as Philadelphia and Sacramento,
Calif., as well as individual sculptures.
And Oppenheim has other
work in Denver.
The city in 2002 commissioned him to create, for
$37,000, Fire House, a sculpture outside Fire Station No. 9, near the
In 1998, the Denver Art Museum acquired Device to
Root Out Evil, a glass church whose steeple is burrowing into the ground.
The work has never been on view.
The commission offers a challenge
and an opportunity, Oppenheim said from New York.
"Matters of life
and death can occur within the setting of a courthouse. Therefore, to
be asked to do an artwork within this setting is a -real challenge,
which will require a great deal of care."
More than 190 artists applied
for the first phase of art selection for the justice center campus.
Ten were asked to make presentations in late November.
Commission on Cultural Affairs and the mayor have signed off on the
selection, although the contract, because of its size, must still go
before the Denver City Council.
The city has also commissioned Martin
Donlin, of East Sussex, England, to create a $180,000 architectural
glass canopy for the post office and parking garage tied to the justice
A call for entry for the second phase of the justice center
art project - $600,000 for work for specific locations - is expected
early next spring."
from Rocky Mountain News Mary Voelz Chandler, Rocky
Published December 13, 2006 at midnight