the Civic Center

the axis

Civic Center Park

the lantern of justice

the plaza

de Boer 1924 plan


Civic Center Axis

the form

the material

potential locations

for example

the culmination

thoughts on greenery


initial statement


"Justice center artist hired

$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.
"We selected 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.
Members 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 Denver Coliseum.
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.
The Denver 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 center.
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 Mountain News
Published December 13, 2006 at midnight

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