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Frederic C. Hamilton Building

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It's full speed ahead for the Denver Art Museum's Frederic C. Hamilton Building (see review). With the structure to be completed in less than a year, the DAM recently announced the acquisition of three monumental outdoor sculptures that will adorn the grounds.

"Big Sweep" (maquette, right) is a gigantic 35-foot-tall broom and matching dustpan jointly created by Coosje van Bruggen and her mega-famous husband, Claes Oldenberg, who is the originator of the pop aesthetic in which ordinary objects are blown up to monumental size. "Big Sweep" will be installed north of the Hamilton on West 13th Avenue, right under the prow. The piece was commissioned by the DAM in 1999 and completed in 2004; it was paid for by Janus Funds and multiple individual donors.

A yet-to-be-titled abstract by Beverly Pepper will be installed near the northwest corner of the Cultural Complex parking garage, not far from "Clean Sweep." The museum commissioned the piece with support from an anonymous donor. The forty-foot-tall monolith will be made of aggregate and completed on-site.

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Frederic C. Hamilton Building

On the south side, along West 12th Avenue, will be "Scottish Angus Cow and Calf." The sculpture is the centerpiece of the Hindery Family Park; both were gifts from businessman Leo Hindery. Done by Colorado artist Dan Ostermiller, the sculpture is neo-traditional in style except for its enormous size: The "Cow" measures 24 feet in length, and the "Calf" is fourteen feet. The piece dates from 2001 and was originally created for Hindery's ranch near Larkspur. The very realistic "Scottish Angus Cow and Calf" just may give "I See What You Mean" -- the big blue bear at the Colorado Convention Center -- a run for its money in terms of popularity with the general public.

The stylistic diversity of the three pieces is striking, as DAM director Lewis Sharp has noted. I have to admit that I was surprised to find that old-fashioned Ostermiller in the mix. Despite the Hamilton's futuristic appearance, Denver's Western past is going to play a big part in the museum's future.

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