This chrome sculpture is an 11-foot tall, 2,500 lb imposing piece of art that dominates the front entrance to Safeway of all things. It is a strange beast. I admit my own intrigued but ambivalent feelings toward this shopping center art. After learning more about the artist, Sean Guerrero (aka The Bumper Hunter), and his work I have more intrigue and less (but still some) ambivalence.
Guerrero builds his sculptures in chrome from recycled bumpers of old cars. On his website, Bumper Hunter, he writes:
As an artist, when I’m alone out there among my latest finds, cutting off the bumpers of these old iron beasts. . . . I envision them as old buffalo that never completely decayed and crumbled into the earth again; different herds of steel buffalo- Pontiacs, Chryslers, Chevys, and Buicks- that all ran together on their prairies of concrete and asphalt. . . . Whether it’s a 14 foot rearing stallion or an imposing Knight on a Horse, I feel that through the reinterpretations I’ve created over the years I’ve preserved their strength and style like a monument to their dignity. (1)
The horse was commissioned by local developer, Paul Petrovich, who is quoted saying “Retail is about life and energy. . . . His art adds lots of energy.” (2) Retail is not about life to me, but Guerrero’s work definitely adds energy.
I was impressed to read a quote by the landlord of Guerrero’s studio in Denver who says, “He doesn’t make any plans, or any sketches, he doesn’t measure anything. . . . He just cuts a piece out and welds it on. It’s unbelievable how he can visually look at this stuff and have it come out the way it does.” (3)
I’ve seen some of Guerrro’s other work and it conveys to me the intensity and power I think he is seeking to convey. His pieces do feel like resurrections of the big chrome bumper car beasts, and the horse lover in me is drawn to what he captures in this piece. I suspect that part of my ambivalence comes from how these pieces evoke the myths of Westerns and the American Dream for me. I am aware of the problems those myths perpetuate so it is difficult to surrender to the images/feeling of the art. Part of the value of art is making us stop to reflect on these things, regardless of the degree to which we “like” the images or not.
Artist: Sean Guerrero
Media: Recycled chrome car bumpers
Location: Safeway storefront, 1814 19th Street
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