Alfie gives Boulder something to crow about

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Denver has Sun Spot, a giant dog sculpture created out of dog tags outside the new municipal animal shelter. Now Boulder has Alfie, a huge rooster made out of more than 3,000 pieces of old farm equipment by longtime local artist Robert Bellows.

The sculpture was dedicated this past weekend at Alfalfa's, the resurrected store in Boulder. "We consider this our gift to the community," pronounced Mark Retzloff, Alfalfa's CEO and co-founder. "We've long admired Robert's work and first talked to him a year ago when we were remodeling the store to bring Alfalfa's back to Boulder. Boulder is known for its unique sculptures scattered around town. We collaborated with Robert to create our rooster, Alfie, as an iconic addition to Boulder's eclectic sculpture collection."

Bellows spent close to eleven months turning the used farm equipment into art. He used 1,200 plow sweeps for the rooster's chest feathers; 30 three-pound cultivator blades became the wings; the back feathers were hand-welded from 36 industrial water-heater flues. And 462 individual sickle blade guards, 800 feet of 5/8" steel bar and 2,500 steel plugs were connected to form Alfie's legs, talons, crest and support for the 5,000-pound piece.

"Alfie is doing his job, establishing his territory, building his nest," explained Bellows at the unveiling. "He is powerful yet gentle. There was a moment while constructing the rooster that I realized he needed a heart, so I built him a heart using more than 200 steel plugs. Much like Alfalfa's, he is here for the community."

Alfalfa's was initially founded in 1979 as the Pearl Street Market, then grew to be one of the country's leading natural-products retailers before it was acquired by Wild Oats Markets in 1996. Fifteen years later, Retzloff and his partners -- Barney Feinblum, Hugo van Seenus and Jimmy Searcy -- resurrected the Alfalfa's name on the $10 million store they opened this past April at 1651 Broadway, where Alfalfa's had first opened back in 1983. But even as they were introducing Alfie to Boulder, the owners were ruffling more than a few feathers by announcing that they were laying off up to 35 workers.

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