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Gazette Premium Content Five artists compete to create Waldo Canyon fire memorial; sketches to be displayed Friday

By Jen Mulson Updated: January 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

A memorial dedicated to the Waldo Canyon fire will be erected in Mountain Shadows Park by June 26, the second anniversary of the fire.

Five semifinalists from around the country are competing to be the one who puts it there, said Nora Gledich, chairperson of the Waldo Canyon Fire Memorial Committee and vice president of the Mountain Shadows Community Association.

The five, which includes a husband-and-wife duo, will display sketches of their proposed piece of work Friday. Eighty-six applications were received by the committee in the fall.

"We hope the memorial will be cathartic for people," said Gledich. "Several people have said it will help bring closure to the Waldo Canyon event. It's a way for people to always remember that something horrific occurred on June 26, 2012, but out of that came a strong neighborhood and a strong city."

The community is invited to attend the display, which will include YouTube videos of the artists explaining their visions for the project. Viewers can provide feedback on comment cards, which the committee will take into consideration when it selects the final artist.

The five semifinalists each received a $300 stipend, and the winner must build the memorial within a $30,000 to $40,000 budget, which includes payment for their work. The winner will be revealed by mid-January, Gledich said.

The semfinalists are:

Robert Barnum

rlbarnumstudios.com

Medium: Murals and steel sculpture

Occupation: Head of the art department and art professor at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan

Residence: Canadian Lakes, Mich.

Vision for the memorial: "I'm working on the complete narrative in steel. I've been trying this new thing I call aesthetic engineering - using new materials and bringing the human story, the narrative, back to art - the complete tale. How do you take pieces of evacuation and do that in aluminum, in steel? That's my goal with this, to attempt an environment with gardens around it. I try to take figures in metal, and turn them into organic pages in a book."

Inspiration to enter: "Every once in a while, something comes along with a high humanist value, and you have a way to be a part of something bigger and much larger than life. It was something that really impacted 100,000 people or more. This is that chance to take public art to the highest level."

Kathleen Caricof

caricofsculpture.com

Medium: Sculpture, site specific art

Occupation: Artist and part-time teacher, who has taught at Art Students League and Marble Institute of Colorado in Denver

Residence: Loveland

Artistic philosophy noted on Facebook page: "It is my intention to design for a purpose, bringing emotions into design to make ideas grow, work collectively, translate concepts into a vision, vision into reality."

Inspiration to enter: Could not be reached for comment.

Eileen Gay

eileensworld.com, mosaics byeileen.com

Medium: Sculpture and mosaics

Occupation: Full-time artist

Residence: Reno, Nev.

Vision for the memorial: "I'm proposing a sculpture with mosaic, one of my bigger pieces. ... It's really commemorating something that happened, and the community's strength in pulling together afterward."

Inspiration to enter: "I really felt for the people there - something so huge and life changing, and even out here we had some smoke from it. Years back I lived in Lake Tahoe, a beautiful forested area, and every time there's a little fire someplace else, I think in a downwind, would I have to move? It's horrific when things are lost and it takes forever for them to come back. However, it is nature cleaning house. I don't want to minimalize it, but it is part of the cycle."

Jean and Tom Latka

ceramicsite.com

Medium: Public art and ceramics

Occupation: Full-time artists

Residence: Pueblo

Vision for the memorial: "We hope it will be awe-inspiring and deal with transition. It will be 14 feet tall."

Inspiration to enter: "Even down here, being that far away, to have that kind of a natural disaster thing happening so close to this community? That rocked everybody to their core, and made us all realize how vulnerable we are. When we saw they wanted to do an acknowledgement and memorial for those who lost their homes, it was like 'wow, we would like to have the opportunity to have something to say to those people, to honor their struggles and losses and the people who came into help.'"

Christopher Weed

chrisweed.com

Medium: Large steel abstract pieces ranging in weight from 2,000-20,000 pounds.

Occupation: Full-time artist

Residence: Colorado Springs

Vision for the memorial: "Sculpture-related, more toward a memorial. Without deviating from my style ... whimsical, but also more serious. When you see it, you'll say 'Yes, that's a Chris Weed piece of art.' The dimensions are fairly large: It's going to be 20 by 15 or 20 by 20" feet.

Inspiration to enter: "I haven't done a memorial project yet, and it doesn't get more personal than that - witnessing the smoke and haze. I live downtown, and from my front porch I could see the fires. I was glued to the TV in disbelief. ... Burning embers at anytime could have lit up any part of the neighborhood."Contact Jennifer Mulson, jen.mulson@gazette.com, 636-0270.

Waldo Canyon Fire Memorial

What: Community viewing of semifinalists

When: 6-9 p.m. Friday

Where: Front Range Alliance Church, 5210 Centennial Blvd.; 1-407-810-4130, mscaweb.com

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