Englewood public art sculpture embellishes Kent Place corner
By Tom Barry
After years of wrangling, the Kent Place multi-million dollar development is coming into place.
Fresh Fare by King Soopers opened Dec. 12 and the most of the surrounding retail stores and the Patxi Pizza are open for business. Chase Bank has just opened a sparkling new facility to serve the community. And a massive below grade parking structure is being built to accommodate 300 luxury apartments for the Kent Place Residences.
Instead of a cornerstone, this Englewood development has erected a unique sculpture on the northwest corner of Hampden and University.
“The art piece at Kent Place is the result of an agreement between the city and Continuum Partners,” said Michael Flaherty, Englewood’s deputy city manager. “Continuum agreed, as part of the Planned Urban Development, to provide, at their sole expense, an entryway art piece for Englewood at the Kent Place Project.”
Eric Chekal an executive with Regency spearheaded the effort.
The soft pale yellow colored carved stone, entitled the Keystone – Cornerstone, embellishes Englewood’s east entrance into the city at the heavily traveled intersection.
Noted Denver sculptor Michael Clapper designed and carved the Kansas limestone block at the Ironton Studio’s complex in “RiNo” – short for the River North, an art district in an industrial area just north of downtown Denver.
Clapper, 60, presented one-foot high models of his concept to an Englewood art selection committee competing with seven other artists for the honor of adorning the city’s gateway.
“The abstracted piece is my interpretation of a cornerstone and a keystone together,” said the artist whose most notable public art piece is a massive sculpture at the entrance to the University of Texas in El Paso. A 28-foot tall sculpture features the head of a pickaxe without the handle. “Most people here have not seen that piece in El Paso.”
A keystone is the top part of an arch, the last thing that holds the very top piece of a masonry form, Clapper said.
“Initially, I just thought of the new community and a small corner at the intersection, as the spot for the public art and I naturally thought of a cornerstone,” said Clapper. “The final piece of architectural form was the top – the last piece.”
Clapper began with a raw stone weighing 11,000 pounds, costing $2,000 and shipped from a quarry in Kansas. Small natural occurring holes provide a texture on the 2x4x11 foot long solid sedimentary stone.
The stone was carved during a one-month period at Clapper’s studio utilizing various sized grinders with diamond tooling. The stone was carved in two pieces and is joined together by a large steel pin and structural epoxy.
“If you look at the overall body of work, my abstract work is very minimal in form and is heavily influenced by Japanese and Scandinavian culture,” Clapper said.
City Council members Linda Olson and Jill Wilson participated on the review committee. Mark Falcone of Continuum and Cynthia Madden Leitner, the director of the Museum of Outdoor Arts, provided their expertise. John Grant, a public arts consultant, advised the group.
Englewood residents Donna Schnitzer, Martha Kirkpatrick and Andrea “Andy” Mallen participated in the review process.