Tim Van Schmidt
The Fourth Dimension is time.
Of all the forms of art in the world, not one fleshes out its influence into the Fourth Dimension like sculpture. Stone, metal, even concrete materials all mean that whatever shape a sculpture takes, it will last much longer than paper, canvas, and certainly our current glut of electronic expression.
You don’t need a museum to protect it. You don’t need a machine to enjoy it. You don’t even need a nameplate. What a piece of sculpture becomes after being shaped stays that way on into countless years.
I have seen some timeless sculptures during my years as a fine art fan. I saw Rodin’s “The Thinker” in California. I saw Michelangelo’s work up close in Russia’s Hermitage Museum. I saw an amazing copy of Michelangelo’s “La Pieta” in Denver, with all its smooth and graceful lines supporting the grief of a mother.
But the echo of time that is inherent in works of sculpture was never more clear than at a recent visit to the famous “Hearst Castle” on the central coast of California. William Randolph Hearst was a big collector of statuary, and the grounds are littered with pieces from a diversity of historical periods. People even as rich as Hearst come and go, but the sculpture work lives on.
There’s a famous poem by Percy Shelley titled “Ozymandias,” and it mocks the hubris of an ancient ruler who claims his dominion is timeless as his statue languishes in lonely desolation.
While the ancient ruler’s empire was gone, I think Shelley got it wrong about his statue. It was still there after centuries in the desert — and may still be there long after Shelley is gone.
But sculpture doesn’t have to be tied to great places or great people. That’s what I have learned living so close to one of the top sculpture centers in the nation — Loveland, home to the annual Sculpture in the Park show that brings sculptors from all over the country as well as foundries and lots of public artworks.
Added to this are two excellent sculpture parks — Benson Sculpture Garden and Chapungu Sculpture Park — where anyone can enjoy the timeless quality of sculpture just about any time of year.
Benson Sculpture Garden is located at 1125 W 29th Street in Loveland and features a diversity of pieces ranging from abstract to whimsical. Chapungu is tucked in behind the Centerra shopping area off of Sky Pond Drive and features a rich cultural experience with Zimbabwean stone sculptures coupled with placards that highlight the thoughts and customs of a people far away.
But let’s also not forget the great Swetsville Zoo, nearby in Fort Collins at 4801 E Harmony Road. It’s a collection of fanciful sculptures made out of old vehicles and farming parts and other found objects.
All of these places are open to the public, pretty much all year long. They’re outdoors and invite return trips anytime. I have gone to these places often, with visitors and various friends, and always see something new. Each visit is different for me, but, really, the sculptures themselves do not change. That’s because they are standing firmly against the test of time.
This column is dedicated to the memory of my best sculptor friend Monty Taylor — truly a sculptor of life.
Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins. See his galleries of Benson, Chapungu, and Swetsvile sculpture gardens on YouTube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt.”