Sculpture honoring late local artist approved, while other art pieces get new homes

An unpainted 20-inch maquette (model) of "She Walks on Water.” The finished sculpture will be painted and may be as high as 15 feet tall.
Sandy Graves/Courtesy photo

Honoring the memory of late local artist Susan Schiesser, a new sculpture has been approved to be placed on the lawn at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Additionally, two existing pieces of art will have new homes. The “Cougar” that lays peacefully atop the sandstone wall at the base of Steamboat Resort will be moved to the Yampa River Core Trail near Dr. Rich Weiss Park.

The “River Run” sculpture that was originally on Lincoln Avenue, and then moved to Ski Town Lions Park, will soon move again to a concrete plot in West Lincoln Park near Sulphur Spring.

Friends and family of Schiesser commissioned Sandy Graves to make a new sculpture “She Walks On Water,” in honor of a cherished painting Shiesser had made depicting a bear with a pair of wings. Graves typically works with bronze, but because of the sculpture’s proximity to the sulfur-rich spring near the library, she will be using aluminum and steel instead. According to Graves, this will be the first time she has worked with aluminum.

“This is gonna be a lot of fun for me because it takes me in a new direction,” said Graves, who knew Schiesser personally and respected her artistic style. “Susan’s art was contemporary in pushing the envelope with color and design.”

“So what we’re going to be able to bring by blending our styles is something really unique in the world,” Graves added.

While still in the early phase, “She Walks on Water” may turn out as high as 15 feet, with a six-foot base and 10-foot wingspan. In 2021, when the piece was initially conceptualized, its value was estimated at $100,000.

The City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission approved in its meeting on Wednesday, June 8, to accept “She Walks on Water” into the city’s public art collection and approved the sculpture’s placement in the aspen grove near the library. The city is not paying for the art or the ongoing maintenance, as those costs will be covered by those donating the piece.

Now that the city has given its official approval, Graves says she will likely be working on the sculpture over the next year or perhaps even longer.

Also approved unanimously by the parks and recreation commission was a request to move the “Cougar” sculpture from the ski area to a space along the Core Trail.

According to the commission, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. felt the big cat sculpture didn’t fit in with the country-western design of the resort and was frequently being bumped and scraped by skis.

The "Cougar" sculpture at the base of the Steamboat Springs ski area will soon be relocated to the Yampa River Core Trail near Dr. Rich Weiss Park.
Kim Keith/Courtesy photo

The “Cougar” was jointly funded by the city and Steamboat Creates.

Steamboat Creates manages the ongoing maintenance, and the “Cougar” recently underwent restoration. Steamboat Creates will also construct a sandstone pedestal at the new location along the Core Trail, on which the “Cougar” will soon bask in the sun, hopefully without startling any passing joggers.

“A cougar will be lookin’ at ya,” said Craig Robinson, Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager.

The “Cougar” is a bronze sculpture made by an artist out of Loveland named Rosetta. In 2017, Rosetta’s sculpture was estimated to value around $30,000.

“River Run,” the other piece of public art being relocated, is a blue, wavy sculpture that doubles as a functional bench. When it was originally installed on Lincoln Avenue, it also doubled as a concave surface skateboarders could ollie onto and skate over, or perhaps even grind upon if they had the skill.

"River Run" is a sculpture and bench that has been moved twice already, but hopefully it will have a permanent home near the river in West Lincoln Park.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

Because of damage from skateboards, the sculpture and bench was moved over to the Ski Town Lions Park, where it was damaged by sap dripping from trees.

Once “River Run” is done being refurbished, it will be relocated near the river in West Lincoln Park. The city will pour a concrete pad under the sculpture that will be separated from the sidewalk to deter skateboarders.

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