Art Review

Artbeat

Installed below street level along the greenbelt east of Broadway in Englewood is a hidden attraction: the Dry Creek Sculpture Garden. It may be entered at various points, but the easiest route is to take one of the pedestrian ramps on Hampden Avenue that lead down to a walkway running along the not-so-dry creek.

The Society for the Preservation of Humanity, an artists' group, sponsored the garden with money from the nascent Englewood Cultural Arts Commission. "I convinced them that I could achieve their ten-year goal in a matter of months," says Joe Riché, one of the founders of the SPH. And that's exactly what he did, supervising the installation of the sculpture garden and thus bringing some badly needed public art to an Englewood park.

But Riché isn't just an art impresario; he's also a first-rate sculptor. His "Planetary Level" (above), made of rusted welded steel, found wood and ready-made chains, is clearly one of the standouts in the garden. It consists of a vertical spike that has been set at an angle against a roughly horizontal element. Hanging from this horizontal element are two fragments of weathered wood, suspended by chains. The whole thing resembles a scale. The view of the piece -- with the coursing gulch in front of it -- is downright gorgeous.

Another notable piece is "Mirror", by Chuck Parson, the only well-known artist to have participated in the sculpture garden, thereby lending his prestige to the endeavor.

This summer, the garden will be dismantled. Hopefully, it will be replaced with another set of sculptures provided by the artists of SPH, as Riché has proposed. Until then, the current display is worth seeking out

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia