In the pale light of dawn yesterday, an odd thing appeared in front of the Westword office: a sculpture, roughly four feet tall, made of wire and duct tape. Crafted to resemble an open hand, the sculpture sported an array of colors and textures, along with a couple of painstakingly constructed, diorama-like scenes, one of a city and one of a farm, embedded in the wrist. Placed in the palm of the hand, with a phone number at the bottom, was a cryptic note: "The alien force that holds the planets, the soldiers of constant wars that bleed to the evicted from the cities and farms," it read.
It was either a poem or a death threat, and since I don't really do anything all day except play Boggle and practice yo-yo tricks, that was all I needed to call and find out.
"I just kind of wanted somebody to recognize me," said Ryan Metzler, the artist at the other end of the line, when I asked him why he left a crazy sculpture in front of our office -- and that was a relief, because most of the time when I call the numbers on the random cryptic notes people leave me, I somehow end up with a restraining order.
As it turns out, Metzler is a DIY sculpture artist who's been fashioning pieces from wire and tape for some time now -- he just hasn't been advertising it. Tied to a day-job, Metzler just makes the pieces and keeps them, mostly, though he's sold a couple and given a few to his friends. The piece he left out front, he said, involved about 440 feet of wire, 600 feet of duct tape, several dozen toy soldiers and a couple of toy cars.
What he had said in the note, he explained, was him trying to elucidate his concept for the piece, which was basically a commentary on human folly with a roomy weird streak -- he described one part of it this way: "The galaxy ice cream cone is being sucked into a black hole."
When he's not blowing his own mind, Metzler enjoys needling the art establishment.
"At the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, I drove around with a couple of pieces tied to my car in protest," he said, "because they only take prestigious artists -- they don't focus on Denver artists at all. I had this one friend, she paints these pictures of animals that are so realistic, you just want to reach out and pet them. And they turned her down. So I protested.
"I've never left a piece anywhere, though," he said.
So why do it now? "Yeah, I guess I was just looking for some recognition on this one," he ruminated. "I'm turning 44, and I guess I'm kind of having a mid-life crisis. I don't know how old you are, but it comes around."
Part of that midlife crisis is perhaps his day job, about which Metzler did not radiate enthusiasm: "I'm a groundskeeper for an apartment building," he said. "I've been doing it for about 25 years now, and I would love to do something else.
"If you guys ever need anything made," he added, "I can build anything with a coathanger."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.