Grin and Bear It

Lawrence Argent strikes the right note with "I See What You Mean."

Another local hookup is Argent himself. "I've lived here longer than anywhere," he says, though it's hard to believe. Having grown up in Australia, the British-born Argent enjoys that distinctive Aussie way of speaking. He got his B.A. at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, coming to the United States in the 1980s to study at the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland College of Art in Baltimore, where he earned an MFA. After a series of teaching gigs and residencies, including one at the prestigious John Michael Kohler Foundation, Argent moved to Denver in 1993 to become a professor at the University of Denver, where he's been ever since.

Since his arrival, Argent has exhibited widely at such venues as the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the Arvada Center and Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art. He is currently repped by William Havu Gallery and has done a number of pieces that are displayed in public places, notably "Virere," the huge blades of grass on South Broadway in Englewood.

I think it's really great and doubly special when artists who are committed to living and working in Denver see that commitment requited by the city through the public-art programs. It's not that I object to getting pieces by big-name artists -- such as Bernar Venet, whose masterpiece sculpture "Indeterminate Line" is on the lawn of the Speer side of the CCC. It's that if our best artists aren't promoted in their own back yard, then where, exactly, should they go to get a leg up?

I predict that "I See What You Mean" will come to be a symbol of Denver in the national media, with shots of it showing up in promos for sporting events and the like. Right now, 14th Street is still a construction zone and not the bustling thoroughfare it will be when the nearby Hyatt Denver Convention Center Hotel and the Ellie Caulkins Opera House are finished this fall. Then, with the predictable increase in foot and road traffic, I guarantee the sculpture will really hit it big with the public. So check it out while you can still get a parking spot nearby.

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