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Jeff Wise Proposal for Highway 550 Median in Durango

Various views of the project model. the scale of the sculpture to the vehicles is pretty close but the segment of the installation shown only represents the middle third of the 400+ foot long south section. There will be more mountains and streambed on the opposite ends of the arc.

Here is the direct link to leave comments on the city website: Community Art Comment Form

Coming from the south and facing north I'd start with a large mountain. The highest mountains will be close to 20’ high with silver cables and black supports.

The stream bed is elevated from the concrete lip of the curbing by about 2ft. and is supported by the natural boulders.

The actual stream bed will have 10 to 20 parallel curving rods...


Proposal Description

This is a many layered, captivating project which could be profoundly rewarding for all involved. It also involves significant peril due to it’s ambitious scale, high profile yet unaccessible location and the wild dynamics of public participation. I have wrestled greatly with all of this and am now prepared to dive into the double black diamond. I’ve lived almost my entire life in Colorado with most of that in Durango. I love our towns diversity, enthusiasm and spirit.

I am a lifelong artist with deep experience in all the requirements for this project. I’ve taught workshops in stone cutting and metalsmithing at Loyola University, Chicago; Penland School of Craft, Asheville N.C. ; Taos Pueblo, New Mexico; Escola de Llotja, Barcelona Spain. I’m experienced in public speaking, having made presentations at the annual conferences for both the Colorado Metalsmiths Association and the Society of North American Goldsmiths and for the Sculptural Objects Functional Art exhibition in Chicago Il. I’m well versed in the use of structural concrete in architectural landscaping and have recently taught myself to weld and am now making large freestanding steel sculpture. I recently developed and coordinated a kickstarter campaign, the Moonhead Man Road Rocket Art Tour involving the creation of video, original music and artwork. I was thrilled to have Rachel, a Needham elementary student as my active assistant. I failed to raise the money required to finance the project but never the less it was tremendously satisfying and highly educational. I’m now ready to direct my significant energy’s into this mad scheme.

When I first saw the project location me got worried bigly. As a driver, this is a seriously high intensity intersection, do we really need to add a potential distraction? To me, the challenge is to create something exciting and beautifully unique without forcing you to focus on it. The artwork has to be instantly comprehended from 200 feet away or up close as you wait for the traffic lights. You also have the issue of scale. This is a seriously large canvas to fill. as lovely as the small bronze sculpture in front of Mercy hospital is, she is woefully undersized for the location. For this median project, you’ve got to basically fill the space or it will look ridiculous and 700 feet of art is a lot to ask for the proposed budget.

My proposal is this. Using a web of galvanized steel cables stretched between supporting steel structures to fill the space, creating a thrilling entrance to Durango. The cables will create a tableau of shimmering gossamer mountains from which a slightly elevated riverbed, made of curving steel rod will flow between natural boulders. Visually, it will be instantly recognizable while depicting our natural environment in a completely new way. By keeping the design element very simple and large scale, drivers won’t be pestered by distracting visual surprises. Please keep in mind that the model is a very rough draft. the mountain support towers will be more elegant and mountainous looking. The cables will be silver rather than black, far more numerous and more carefully and dynamically aligned. The actual construction is fairly straight forward but offers lots of opportunities to engage community members in diverse and exciting ways. There is certainly the possibility of adding details such as a kayaker, mountain biker or fisherman, with nice fat trout swimming beneath the elevated river. I prefer to only introduce these once the basic modules are created and then decide if we can safely inflict them on the driving public.

Components can be made offsite in sections and then installed relatively quickly on preinstalled foundations, presumably at night under CDOT supervision. Cabling can be installed fairly quickly since it won’t require a high degree of skill to accomplish. For the elevated sections, I’m sure we’ll be able to find local climbers and boulderers to do the rigging. If for no other reason than the pure theatre of it, I’ll strive to orchestrate an installation that will appear almost by magic in a very short time frame. Think Circus Big Top!

For maintenance and durability I’m suggesting that structural elements be powder coated and bolted in place to preinstalled foundations. Powder coating is said to have a 15 year lifespan and since the structural elements can be unbolted, they can be removed for future maintenance and recoating when required. Hot dipped, galvanized cable is economical and durable. Regrettably, natural river rocks will require replacement every 50,000 years or so but they’re readily available locally. I have excellent relations with the folks at C&J gravel and the city has a lovely collection of stones down by the BMX track.

Being 64 years old, I’m particularly interested in this project because of the opportunity of working with young folk. I have a lifetime of experience and am very excited by the possibility of sharing my knowledge and being taught by my students.

Tally Ho and Go Cat Go!

Con gusto gigante,

Jeff Glode Wise


Selected Past Exhibitions

Smithsonian Craft Show, Washington D.C. 2012
“The Art of Gold” Traveling Show 2002-2006

Mint Museum
Crocker Museum
Arkansas Art Center
University of Richmond
Anchorage Museum of History and Art

American Craft Council Annual Show, Baltimore Md. 1998 to present
American Craft Exposition, Evanston, IL 2003-2006, 2008, 2010-2013
Racine Museum. “Magnificent Extravagance – Artists & Opulence” Racine, WI 2005
Philadelphia Museum Craft Show 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011
Public art installation, Durango Co. 2005
Museum of Art, Tallahassee, FL, “Extreme Metal” 2003
Aaron Faber Gallery, New York City, NY 1995 to 2010, Retrosepctive Show 2013
DeNovo, Palo Alto, CA 1994 - present
Mobilia Gallery, Boston, MA, Solo Show 1994 - present
S.O.F.A. Sculptural Objects, Functional Art, Chicago, IL and NYC, NY 1994 - present
Baltimore American Craft Council Show, Baltimore, MD 1992 - present
Crocker Museum, Sacramento, CA 2002-2003
Concepts Gallery, Carmel, CA, Two Person Shows, 1993 to 2001
Contemporary Crafts Museum, Houston, TX, Opening Show, 2001
Wustum Museum - “The Ring” - Racine, Wisconsin 2001
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM 1998, 1999
Washington Craft Show, Washington, DC 1999, 2006
Washburn University Sculpture invitational, Washburn In. 1999
Loveland Arts Council Sculpture Show, Loveland Co. 1998
Breit Collection, Tokyo, Japan 1994, 1998
American Craft Museum, Gold & Silver Show, New York City, NY, 1998
Smithsonian Craft Show, Washington, DC 1995, 1996, 1997, 2012
Hipotesi Gallery, Barcelona Spain 1993
Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA 1987
Glass and Metal Exhibition, Pforzheim, West Germany 1986

Museum Collections

Boston Museum of Fine Arts, permanent collection;2007
Museum of Art and Design, New York City, NY permanent collection;1998
Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American Art, Renwick Gallery,
Washington, DC permanent collection: 1996


Jurors award The Essential Figure Lakewood Co. Arts Center 2015
Second Place / St. Louis Arts Show 2009 & 2010
First Place / Headley Whitney Museum/Design Competition, Louisville Ky. 2007
First Place / Jewelry Award, American Craft Council, Baltimore, MD 2002
American Craft Council, Baltimore, National Show, First Place, 2001
Niche Award Finalist, Niche Magazine, 1998
Niche Award Winners, 2001
Jurors Cash Award, Lancaster Museum, Lancaster, PA, 1999
Excellence in Design Award, Philadelphia Craft Show, Philadelphia, PA, 1992
Jurors Award, Southwest Arts Festival, Albuquerque, NM, 1988
First Place, Art in the Rocky Mountains States, Denver, CO, 1987
Best of Show, Colorado Artist Craftsman Annual Show, Denver, CO, 1987
Third Place, Spectrum Award, American Gem Trade Association, 1984


Masters: Gemstones Lark Publications 2008
“1000 Rings” a Lark Publication, 2004
American Style Magazine, December 2004, feature article “Wise Move”
Arte Y Joya, March-April, 2001
Society of North American Goldsmiths Exhibition in Print, 1998.
Ornament Magazine, Cover Article, Fall 1990, 1995.
Lapidary Journal, Cover Article, May, 1995.
Ornament Magazine, Winter, 1995.
Oro Y Hora Magazine, Barcelona, Spain, 1993.
Santa Fe Magazine, October, 1988.
Korean Metalsmithing Magazine, March, 1988.

Instructor & Juror

Penland School of Art, North Carolina, Instructors, two-week metals workshop, 2003
American Craft Council Shows, Juror, 1993, 2002
Worchester Center for Crafts,Worcester Ma. 3 day workshop 1998
Society of North American Goldsmiths, Instructor, five-day workshop, Taos, NM, 1997
Philadelphia College of Art, Instructor, three-day workshop, 1994.
Escola de Ljotja, Barcelona, Spain, Instructor, two-week seminar, 1993.
Loyola University, Chicago, IL, Instructor, two-day lapidary workshop, 1992.
New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair, Juror, May, 1990.
Northern Arizona University, Instructor, two-day lapidary workshop, April, 1990.

Galleries with Sculpture

Todd Reed, Venice, CA

Durango Specific Art Resume

1986-2002 Jewelry Studio & Attelier at 135 E. 8th St. Durango Colorado
1998 2 sculptures juried into Durango Art Center annual show
2005 Community Cougar sculpture project, currently on display at Durango Nature Studies
2002-2005 Exhibitor in Ellis West Gallery Durango Colorado
2008-2012 Exhibitor in Dianne West Gallery Durango Colorado
2012-2014 Exhibitor in Open Shutter Gallery Durango Colorado
2010(appx) Juror along with my painter/jeweler wife Susan for the Durango Street Fair
2014 Juror & Curator along with my wife Susan of the TOP Jewels-National Jewelry Design Competition, Durango Art Center
2014 “Different Eyes” 3 person exhibition, main gallery, Durango Art Center
(Margy Dudley; photography, Susan Wise; painting, Jeff Glode Wise; sculpture. Video of this event has been prominently featured in the Art Centers promotional videos. The above 2 shows have been widely regarded as 2 of the best shows ever staged at the Art Center.)
2004-2014 KDUR Public Radio Furniture as Art Auction. My donated pieces have raised $5,000 for the event and I’m currently working with KDUR Station Manager Bryant Liggett to build a display case for 4 of the pieces and have them installed in the permanent art collection of Fort Lewis College.
2006-present day Sculpture Studio & Atelier at our residence on Junction Creek Rd. Look for the white eye glasses over our mailbox



  40,000 feet of 1/4” hot dipped galvanized steel cable $10,420
  more than 7 miles of cable! what an excellent quotable number  
  3,750 feet of 1/2” round steel rod $1,425
  360 feet of 1/4” 4” leg angle iron $1,220
  miscellaneous steel $800
  200 tension springs $1,200
  7 yards of 4,500 psi concrete $1,127
  miscellaneous hardware and supplies $1,500
  welding supplies $2,000
  powder coating $8,400
  Crane truck with nighttime overtime $920
  30 boulders from the city free?  
  total $29,012

Labor is of course the missing component here but I’m happy to see that my materials budget leaves $20,000 unspent between your materials…$20,000 and bases, material, labor and install…$28,000. I very much hope that I can get a core group of students to function as somewhat consistent assistants/apprentices and pay them a decent wage. I would also look forward to meeting and working closely with the high school and college instructors and greatly value their input.





If you remember Jeff's yellow duck shoes, the Rocket Drive In, or Maggie the cat at Ron's Hardware Store, then you've been in Durango for at least 25 years, and now all you newer folks can create your own colorful stories...













Images from Portfolio:

Celestial Sailor #1 a balanced arc of welded steel with powder coat finish.     2017     11’h x 16’w

Celestial Sailor #1 the shapes & patterns shift, depending on the perspective.

Kachina Towers & Walkway the sloped wall integrates native stone with screened panels. The guardian towers of welded metallica obscura are topped with found glass. 2014

Genesis Theory the hand of creation emerging from a galactic cloud, casts forth the planets.   2012   50”h x35”w x12”d

Crystaline Balcony seeming to hang in mid air, this angled web of welded steel rises from 3 triangular windows cast in concrete. The panes are 1” thick segments of the original Solid Muldoon Saloon skylight.


© Jeff Glode Wise, 2018, All Rights Reserved.