A new sculpture for Denver comes at a steep price

A little over four years ago, Frank Bingham's entire family was killed at the corner of 15th and Arapahoe streets downtown when he, his wife and two children were struck by a drunk driver while crossing the street. Only Bingham survived. At the time, Bingham was the director of the University of Colorado Denver's Colorado Principals Center, and he had served as the Principal of Bromwell Elementary for five years; he was (and still is) a well known and respected member of the Denver community a friend of John Hickenlooper. Today, at long last, he got a little bit of closure to his horrible ordeal, in the form of a sculpture dedicated to his family and installed today at the corner of 15th and Arapahoe streets.

"Mayor Hickenlooper at the time suggested that Frank explore some kind of a tribute at that corner, and eventually Frank asked me if I could come up with some design proposals for the project," explains sculpture artist Robert Pietruszewski, who had previously worked with Bingham when he installed a piece at Bromwell during Bingham's tenure there. "So we finally chose a piece and tweaked it to represent a tribute to his family."

The result is a 30-or-so-foot-tall kinetic piece made of titanium that looks something like a giant, complex metal pinwheel and stays in almost constant motion."It's got interconnected design elements that move with the wind, and abstractly represent the connection between the family and the community," Pietruszewski says, adding that the name of the piece is "Connections."

"We're really excited, because the only time we have funding for parks is when there's a capital improvement project in the area, and there aren't any of those in the foreseeable future," notes public art administrator Kendall Peterson, who oversaw the project on behalf of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs -- normally, DOCA would use city funds for public art, but in this case, the piece was commissioned and donated by Bingham, who raised a good chunk of the funds himself. Help was also provided by the Landy Martin of the Titanium Metals Corporation, who donated the titanium used to make the sculpture (he also donated the titanium that skins the Denver Art Museum) and made up the difference in funds Bingham wasn't able to raise.

As for Bingham, his appearance at the dedication of the sculpture this Tuesday, May 10, at 1 p.m. will be the first time he's been back to the intersection since, Pietruszewski says. "After the accident, I don't even think he went home for about a year."

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