Banished sculpture remains in town, former mayor buys 'Global Warming'

Virginia Grantier

Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue this summer brought up his concern at a council meeting about have a sculpture in town hall called “Global Warming” and it was removed soon after.

Former Castle Rock Mayor Randy Reed brought up his concern at a later council meeting about it being removed — and about art censorship in a town he thinks would benefit economically and otherwise from a thriving art district.

It’s still out of town hall.

But now the sculpture is in Reed’s house, on the mantle.

And it also might travel occasionally to various spots around town, said Reed, who bought it recently at an auction that benefits arts programs in Douglas County schools.

In August — after Donahue brought up his concern about the eight-inch-high bronze sculpture attached to a town hall stair rail as being potentially politically contentious — the Castle Rock Public Art Commission removed it. The $800 sculpture, which resembles a melting earth and had been in town hall about eight months, was donated to Stars 4 Douglas County, which raises money for school art programs in local schools.

Recently, Stars’ annual masquerade-ball fundraiser had various items to bid on including the sculpture. The auction starts bids at half the object’s value, so $400 for the $800 “Global Warming,” and bidders were told of its history.

“There were four or five bidders going back and forth,” said Julie Holladay, Stars’ director, about the bidding for the sculpture. “Most artwork does not go for its full value … (unless) it’s somebody like Van Gogh,” she said.

Reed was the winning bidder, for $600 — a purchase that his wife, Hattie Reed, chairman of the Castle Rock Public Art Commission, approved of, he said.

The piece was one of several small bronzes the commission — which is funded by a private company, individuals and an annual allocation from the Philip S. Miller Trust Fund — had bought at the Loveland Sculpture Show in 2012 and placed throughout town.

“I think it’s a very interesting, lovely piece of art,” Reed said. “The name doesn’t mean anything,” he said, adding that he thinks very few would know the names of the other sculptures around town.

Reed, who said he bought it because of its quality and because of its legacy — the town hall removal — describes himself as a conservative who doesn’t subscribe to the idea of climate change and would argue that climate, like many things in life, is cyclical.

The sculpture issue started at the Aug. 6 town council meeting after Donahue told the council he noticed the statue and it occurred to him “it really doesn’t make sense for the town of Castle Rock to be financing pieces of art that could advocate a certain political position.”

Donahue asked the council to consider “endorsement of a policy that no public art selection should represent (or be perceived to represent) any political position,” according to the Aug. 6 meeting minutes. “Donahue requested the piece in question be removed.”

The consensus of the town council was to have Councilmember Clark Hammelman, the council’s arts-commission liaison, discuss the issue with the commission at its Aug. 8 meeting.

Hattie Reed, current commission chair and Randy Reed’s wife, told Colorado Community Media that at the commission’s Aug. 8 meeting, Hammelman was asked if it would make a difference to remove the “Global Warming” plaque so the then nameless sculpture could remain — and he indicated it wouldn’t. The commission then decided to remove the sculpture and donate it to the Stars organization.

Hattie Reed said in a past interview the commission learned from this experience — “to be more conscientious in decision-making in placing art and removing art. Both.”

Next time, if this happens, she said the commission may not make such a quick decision — but will have the issue presented to them and then wait until the following month’s meeting to make a decision. In the future, “We may go back to town council and look for a compromise.”

Holladay said this year’s Stars’ masquerade raised $8,000, the bulk of which will be used for college scholarships, art grants for visual art programs, and funds for the two schools being focused on this year — Coyote Creek Elementary in Highlands Ranch and Douglas County High School.

Donahue couldn’t be reached by press time for further comment.