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Sculpting Our Community

Loveland's Artistic Heritage

The artistic roots of Loveland run deep. An art colony settled here in the 1960s building up around the bronze industry. When you think of bronze, sculptures come to mind, right? Well, you’d be right as that was the focus of the art scene in Loveland until about 20 years ago, according to Susan Ison, Loveland’s Cultural Service Director. Now all types of media are represented in the art community of this creative Northern Colorado city. 

With arms stretched wide, artists from all over come here to live and work thanks to an organization called Artspace. Ison says that “they focus on providing affordable live/work space for artists around the country.” Loveland was the first place in Colorado where Artspace settled. This is no surprise, considering the city’s long creative history. These things have turned Loveland into a mecca for not only artists mastering their crafts but for anyone who has an interest in the arts. 

Connoisseurs of the arts can thank the hard-working people at the Art in Public Places Program (APPP), which literally holds the city together by having artists create pieces that are part of new construction projects. From railings, flooring, and murals the creatives have made their home here in Loveland. The APPP has been around since 1985 and there is no sign of stopping. Ison says that the program will continue creating art and buildings hand in hand - one percent of any municipal capital program of $50,000 or more is dedicated to the arts. Sometimes this symbiotic relationship does more than provide an interesting piece. Recently the railings that were part of the addition to the Rialto Theater were designed by an artist, “and it turned out fabricating those was actually cheaper than what the contractor had planned,” says Ison. From the Benson and Chapungu Sculpture Parks (the latter coming all the way from Zimbabwe) to the various art installations and decorated transformer boxes around the city, these provide beautiful walking spaces and experiences for all who live in or are visiting Loveland.  

Loveland is home to many arts events but those don’t just happen by themselves, says the Show Director of the Governor’s Art Show, Ruth Scott, “We couldn’t run our art shows or organizations without our volunteers.” These non-profit shows give back to the community by donating the entirety of their proceeds to provide art scholarships and assist unhoused youth in Larimer County. The artists that work and live in Loveland feel this sense of camaraderie as well. Scott says that collaboration between artists is the norm here. It is also why artists have journeyed to Northern Colorado - because the idea of sharing artistic knowledge is not as common elsewhere, “I say that’s the sign of a good artist, that they’re willing to share their information.” 

The artists wouldn’t get too far without the support of the local businesses which provide the raw materials that are transformed into beautiful artworks, all part of the art economy that thrives in Loveland. Scott mentioned the base, mold, and patina makers (don’t worry I had to look up that last one too). It’s the polish that gives sculptures that greenish look and is usually used on works of bronze, copper, or other similar metals. Usually, it takes a long time to achieve that look due to a bunch of sciency stuff but we can save that for another time.

It is safe to say that the city of Loveland is thankful for the artists that have built their community over the years - sometimes literally - and for what the arts can continue to bring to the proverbial canvas with their support for arts education and unhoused youth. The artists have a network of dedicated volunteers to thank for assisting in that mission. It seems the future for the arts is as bright as the sun reflecting off of the wide variety of works in the Benson Sculpture Garden. So if you’re looking for something to do during this lovely Colorado autumn, then just take a step out your front door as the arts are all around.

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