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A concept formed by the Douglas County Cultural Council, DCCC, in 2006-07 has matured into the 2017 Art Encounters: a display of 27 public sculptures, placed through five communities for the coming year. The DCCC sets aside funds from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, SCFD, for Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Roxborough and Parker. Castle Rock, not in the SCFD District, participates through its Philip S. Miller Trust Fund. These funds implement a part of the county’s Cultural Plan, which calls for a public art program similar to others around Colorado, such as Grand Junction’s Art on the Corner Program.Highlands Ranch sculptor and arts activist Larry Perkins estimated that 100,000 pats rubbed off the patina on the charming “Deeter and Mollie,” the basset hound bronze that was so popular in front of the Highlands Ranch library a couple of years ago. “Art has a natural visceral appeal to humans — even kids,” Perkins said. (The piece was purchased and resides in Eastridge Recreation Center.)In the first year, there were 14 sculptures exhibited. Five works from this year’s collection of 27 works are placed in Roxborough — new this year to the program, although it has had an active arts community for years. Lone Tree has four sculptures; Highlands Ranch, seven; Parker, six; and Castle Rock, five.Artists include: Federico Aguire, Charlotte Zink, Ted Wilson, Joe Burleigh, Sandy Friedman (two), Robert Henderson, Kendra Fleischman, Suzanne Kane (three), Richard Mertineit, Jemmy Descant, Kathryn Vinson, Shannon Bazinga, Matthias Neumann, Jim Choate, Jusin Deuster, David Zvanut, Kyle Ocean (two), Mike Mladjan, Harold Linke, Janene DiRico-Cable, Reno Carrolo, Kimmerjae Johnson, Joe Norman.At recreation centers, libraries and elsewhere, one should be able to find a brochure with a list of artists and locations for this year’s widespread exhibit — or find information and picture online.Residents are encouraged to vote for their favorite online and a “People’s Choice” will be announced, with a $1,000 award to the artist who created it. A Judge’s Award will also be announced, accompanied by a $1,000 check. The 2017 judge is Kendall Peterson.The program offers a chance for families to go on an excursion. Choose a favorite, absorb the wonder of artists’ imaginations, talk about the processes — and perhaps stop somewhere for ice cream? Then go home, discussing favorites en route — and each family member can vote for a favorite online.Artists benefit from having a large number of people view their works — a challenge for sculptors, whose art tends to be bulky and hard to move around. Douglas County has created carefully selected sites for sculptures, with concrete pads to hold them secure, and at some locations, plantings that complement them.New: Load the Otocast app on your phone and experience Art Encounters via a narrated autoguide, learning about the artist and the art as you move among the sculptures. Voices of artists are recorded.The programs’ mission: Create conversation, thoughtfulness, emotions, meaning and creativity. Establish public art as an essential part of a vibrant community. Experience art, style and expression in many formats.Artists may want to watch in the fall for the 2018 Call for Artists and participate. “A selection committee will go through everything and choose a range of acceptable work,” said Perkins, who has served on the selection committee and is now on the Douglas County Arts Council. “Jurisdictions then come in to select — in multiple rounds — first one changes every year.” (Highlands Ranch was first this year-with the choice of “Ribbon Dance” by Kendra Fleischman, displayed at Southridge Recreation Center’s portico.) “Every single penny is watched,” he added.Sara Walla of HRCA said the same installation crew at Highlands Ranch has done it for five years now and knows how to install it well. Each jurisdiction does its own installations.
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