Back in 1968, a group of mostly local sculptors, with administrative support from painter Beverly Rosen and financial support from her husband, Bernie Rosen, staged the first and only Denver Sculpture Symposium. For this special event, they chose a then-vacant lot in the triangle formed by the intersections of Colorado Boulevard, Alameda Avenue and Leetsdale Drive.
The Rosens arranged for the donation of stacks of marine-grade plywood as the material that nine sculptors — Anthony Magar, Dean Fleming, Peter Forakis, Robert Mangold, Robert Morris, Richard Van Buren, Wilbert Verhelst, Roger Kotoske and Angelo di Benedetto — would use to create nine minimalist-style sculptures in what is now known as Burns Park. Although the Forakis, Mangold, Morris and Van Buren works were removed after the symposium ended, the others remained. Fleming's piece was demolished in the '90s, and a new piece by Barbara Baer was added in 2004 — stylistically, it really doesn't belong there — while the di Benedetto was recreated in concrete. By last year, all of the sculptures were pretty run-down, and the city paid for them to be restored by Mike Mancarella's Juno Works.
The pieces already represented the greatest concentration of minimalist sculptures in the state. And now, there's a late entry to the symposium: a "new" Magar, an untitled monumental work that had been commissioned by Susanne Joshel while the symposium was still under way. Joshel had the piece installed at her Hilltop home, a modernist masterpiece by Joseph and Louise Marlow that's a Denver Landmark, on the National Register and decidedly not the McMansion seen in the background of the photo of the sculpture to the left.
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Denver Sculpture Symposium
Unlike the pieces in the original event, Joshel had requested that her commission be made of steel instead of plywood. When Joshel died after a long illness a few years ago, her will stipulated that the sculpture be given to the City of Denver and placed in Burns Park, and that's what happened a couple of weeks ago. Trucked to the site in pieces, Joshel's Magar was reassembled and repainted by Siloworks, which is owned by Denver sculptors Conor Hollis and Amorette Lana.
The Magar sculpture at Burns Park will be rededicated sometime this fall — but you can enjoy it now.