Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Richard Vincent -- and his 16th Street Mall sculpture -- now a memory

Artist Richard Vincent was memorialized at a service Saturday at the Denver Arts Student League. His sculpture that once graced the 16th Street Mall is just a memory, too, as is the legendary landmark it was designed to complement. Both are consigned to the storehouse of history. Back in 1971, before downtown became a hot place to live, and a decade before the 16th Street Mall was finished, the May D&F Company commissioned Vincent to create a piece of art at Zeckendorf Plaza. That was downtown's prime gathering spot, a public space right by the I.M. Pei-designed paraboloid that created a dramatic entrance to May D&F's flagship store. Vincent was a master of geometry, and he was chosen for the commission because his style would work well with the paraboloid. The resulting design was so successful that the piece blended right into the visual landscape -- until the paraboloid was wiped off the map in 1995. And Vincent's sculpture went, too, dismantled overnight without any advance warning to its creator. Both stood in the way of expansion plans for the hotel that St. Louis developer Fred Kummer was turning into Adam's Mark with the help of a $25 million subsidy from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority.

But because Denver's 1-percent-for-art program applies to all city construction, Kummer did include some art in his project: those hideous alien ballet dancers that still stand on the site today.

The Adam's Mark is now gone, too, a Sheraton in its place. Photographer Greg Daurer captured this shot of Richard Vincent in the 1990s, at his Logan Street studio; Vincent passed away last month. Read more about his career on Daurer's website.

Read more about Richard Vincent's sculpture in Patricia Calhoun's November 8, 1995 column, "The Art of the Deal."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun