Summer is... sunshine, sweet tea and watermelon salad. Water, of course. Hiking, biking, rafting. Late nights around the campfire sharing beer, s'mores and conversation. Falling in love with a friend. Falling in love with Colorado all over again. Boulder-based collaborators WORKSHOP8 and Blue Spruce Design & Construction felt so inspired by the fleeting season of pool days, backyard grilling and sweet-smelling sunblock that they turned their favorite summertime memories into a unique and interactive temporary public-art installation, Summer is..., now up at the Denver Art Museum's Martin Plaza through September 8. Constructed with sustainable materials and a dash of ingenuity, the contemporary urban "campfires" give art lovers a chance to pull up a tree stump and share a story with friends -- without ever leaving the city or striking a match.
Once the team settled on a concept, its members began looking to other artists and projects for inspiration: wish trees, Buddhist shrines, pallet structures, tape art, structures made of reclaimed materials, planted art, string art and art made with soda bottles, to name a few. The result of all that research is a modern interpretation of summertime. Summer is... campfire!
Continue reading for more on Summer Is...Summer is development, too. On May 30, a team of seventeen people from WORKSHOP8, Blue Spruce Design & Construction and LP Custom Framing constructed the installation in a single (and long) day. "We wanted something to start at the beginning of the plaza and go to the end," explains Axtman of the expansive piece. In the weeks preceding the formal installation day, Lonnie Gates, owner of LP's Custom Framing, and his crew spent over 300 hours building the seating and octagonal platforms accompanying the sculptural fire. Summer is also stewardship, apparently. The exhibit, four twelve-foot platforms with eight stump seats, was made with Mother Nature in mind, using Colorado beetle-kill pine donated by Wood Source in Denver, retired climbing rope that had lost its elasticity from Movement Boulder Climbing + Fitness, found branches, milk paint, river rock, hang tags printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks, and miscellaneous hardware. "We knew we wanted to keep as much as possible out of the landfill," says LeMae. Summer is also engaging. Visitors are encouraged to jot down their cherished summer memories and favorite warm-weather pastimes on green hang tags, then tie them to a "ray" of climbing rope. WORKSHOP8 hopes that by the end of summer, the installation will be a beautiful and fun representation of what summer means to our local community -- and maybe a few tourists, too. The team also hopes that the platforms and "fires" making up its eco-conscious installation won't end up in a landfill. Instead, the pieces are available for sale through WORKSHOP8, with any funds raised helping to offset the in-kind labor costs for the project. Information about how to purchase an urban campsite can be found online, or by calling 303-442-3700.
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