Sculptor John McEnroe has created some of the most controversial pieces of public art in the area. But not only has he given Colorado plenty of talk about, he's also taken inspiration for his work from Colorado. We recently caught up with McEnroe to talk about how his piece "Fools Gold," at the Dry Creek light-rail station, deals with water in the West -- and the lack thereof.
Westword: Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
John McEnroe: I am from Topeka, Kansas and I now live in Golden.
How did your collaboration with RTD come about?
The RTD public art program.
How did you come up with the Idea for this piece?
Water use and rights have been an issue in Colorado for hundreds of years. The Front Range is seeing big population growth, as evidenced by the crush of commuters in the South Valley Corridor. Water use is critical in relation to this high rate of growth. It is also a limited resource and will, at some point, have an end.
What or who inspired this piece? And how?
Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs played a big role. His book of poems, Mother of Rivers, was influential; equally important was Justice Hobbs's powerful example as a champion of water resources in the west. I also have an ongoing concern with population rise, and the Malthusian perspective as it relates to human population and global carrying capacity.
When people are on their daily journey and walk past your work, what do you hope they are thinking and feeling?
I hope they take a moment to ponder the idea that water is a very limited resource, and that growth does not always mean progress.
How do you feel about public transportation?
It is a solution and a symbol. Mass transit is a bellweather for growing communities that signals serious population issues. It is critical that more people use public transportation to reduce current pressures on multiple energy recourses; water is a part of that.
What is your favorite piece of public art?
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One of my favorites is "The Sculptured House" (Spaceship house/Sleeper house) in Genesse. It should be owned by Coloradans. It is iconic of the mountains, and there isn't a person who drives up the hill who doesn't gaze up in anticipation of seeing it. To view more of John McEnroe's work, visit his website.