“Continuum — The Julie Penrose Fountain”

Bill Burgess

The thoughtful new addition to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center done by David Owen Tryba (see review) is surely the biggest cultural event of the summer. But another important happening is the new piece of public art that was recently erected in America the Beautiful Park, just west of downtown Colorado Springs and not far from the CSFAC. The piece is so large — the size of a four-story building, with a weight of 24 tons — that it's visible from I-25, which is how I found it.

Created by Bill Burgess, "Continuum — the Julie Penrose Fountain" (pictured) is an open loop of silvery-colored steel panels outfitted with 366 water jets that line the interior contours of the form. It sits on a hidden turntable so that it's able to rotate every fifteen minutes. The sculpture rises from a pool that has a complicated footprint to accommodate recirculation of the water. The structural features of the fountain were designed by architect David Barber, who worked closely with Burgess.

The piece is extremely impressive, especially when seen with the mountains in the background. The shape — a curving line on a substantial base — represents a current formal interest for Burgess, who, over the course of his long career, has experimented with any number of other linear elements.

One of the region's most significant modernist sculptors, Burgess was born in Illinois in 1930, but he has lived in Colorado almost his entire adult life. He earned art degrees from Colorado College, the University of Colorado and the Rinehard School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute. He went on to teach at various schools, including CC. Since 1980, he has pursued his sculpture career full-time.

Burgess is interesting in the context of Colorado's unique art history because he is a bridge figure, linking the early modernists of the '50s, some of whom he studied with, to the neo-modernists of today, some of whom he taught. When you go down to scope out the CSFAC addition, take the extra time to check out "Continuum — the Julie Penrose Fountain."

 
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