No need to check your watch if you're at the light-rail station at Littleton and Mineral: Robert Tully took full advantage of Colorado's sunny days when he created his public-art piece, "The Silver Band of Present Time." He recently took a few minutes to talk with us about art, public transportation and time -- the inspiration for this solar clock.
Westword: Where are you from? Where do you reside now?
Robert Tully: I was born in Denver and live in nearby Louisville, after I spent a little time in Spain.
How did your collaboration with RTD come about?
RTD and the City of Littleton held a joint competition for art at the stations in Littleton. They requested designs for a clocktower at the Mineral Avenue Station, possibly solar-powered, and I was one of three finalists.
How did you come up with the Idea for this piece?
I was always interested in incorporating solar power into art, so that made me interested in the project. The clocktower provided the theme of time, and I realized that the sun and time go hand in hand -- we measure our days that way. The commuters who use the station also have a daily ritual driven by the sun. So at the top of the tower I added a solar panel that rotates automatically to track the sun; when commuters leave in the morning, it faces east, and when they return, it faces west. I liked the idea of that natural rhythm to the tower.
The tower structure itself came about from contemplating what time means to people -- it is an odd entity in that the past is split from the present and the future. You don't go back. Yet the present can be experienced as an ongoing unifying moment. To capture this dividing and unifying nature of time, I designed a stone tower that is split down the middle and then tied back together. The artwork is just known as the solar clocktower, but its title is "The Silver Band of Present Time."
What or who inspired this piece? And how?
The surroundings inspired the piece. In general, I want my art to emerge from a place like a creative expression of it. This place is on a hill with big sky, so I focused on the sun and natural color. Four concrete towers were already in place to mark the pedestrian bridge, so my tower drew shape from them. There is a natural area nearby, so I used stone, which also has ancient, archeological tones to me.
When people are on their daily journey and walk past your work, what do you hope they are thinking and feeling?
I hope they find a certain comfort in the rhythm of their lives and the art, along with thinking about the wonderful mystery of time.
How do you feel about public transportation?
Besides making economic and environmental sense, it can have an adventurous, urban feel to it. It's too bad big western cities are so spread out that it makes public transit more difficult, but we need to keep doing what we can. It builds community more than cars. I think many of the social ills we struggle with were created by people moving as the result of cars and telephones from the 1940s on, an unintended effect of the technologies.
What is your favorite piece of public art?
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Locally, probably the blue "Mustang" by Luis Jimenez at DIA. Otherwise, the Alhambra. It is not just a building but a blend of outdoors and indoors, shapes, sounds, colors and patterns fit onto a mountainside. It was driven by poetry and art. I see it as a sculpture. To view more of Robert Tully's art visit his website.