Artist Spotlight: Lawrence Argent, The Man Who Gave Denver its Giant Blue Bear

Colorado just lost one of its most influential art icons, Lawrence Argent; the man who is most notably known for creating the giant blue bear that peers inside the Colorado Convention Center. The blue bear oddly enough is the second iconic giant blue statue in Denver.  What can I say? We really like giant blue animals in Colorado.

Lawrence Argent was not native to Colorado but was in fact born overseas in Essex, England. He spent most of his childhood years in Australia and came to America after he finished his education. He came to Colorado in 1993 when he landed a teaching job at the School of Art and Art History at the University of Denver.  Since that time he has called Colorado home and has made numerous contributions to its art culture.

Blue_Trees
“I See What You Mean”2005 with the Blue Trees Installation 2017 @Denver Convention Center

The piece that Argent is most known for is called “I See What You Mean” and has become one of Denver’s most beloved pieces of public art. In many ways, the bear has become more than just a public art piece, but has, in fact, become the unofficial mascot of  Denver.

Argent chose a bear for his design after seeing a photo of a black bear looking into someone’s window. Colorado was going through a drought at the time and it was wild occurrences with animals like bears that reminded Argent of Colorado’s true western nature. The artist wanted the bear to have a whimsical feel to it, so he modeled the statue after one of his son’s toys.

Before it was installed, I’d tell people that I was working on a 40-foot blue bear for the Colorado Convention Center, and they’d look at me and say “What – are you working for Disney now?”  – Lawrence Argent

Argent’s blue beat, the unofficial mascot of Denver.

The Blue Bear is not Argent’s only public art pieces in Colorado. He has made numerous contributions to cities and towns all across Colorado. Argent’s legacy will not be known for works of art hidden away in someone’s private collection, but for his larger than life sculptures that can be freely enjoyed by the masses. I have highlighted a few of my favorites below.

conduit
“Conduit” 2009 Location: Vail, Colorado @Lawrence Argent

With this in mind, I wished to try and bring a truth of the ancient past to the present. There are occurrences of discovery that we find on our trails that reflect the past. Sometimes there are these weird unusual vestiges of the past that we find, called fossils. These fossilized relics seem so much out of place, though; they really are providing a link, a connection to a time long ago, which was a reality that did exist.-Lawrence Argent

whispers
“Whispers” 2002 Location: Denver, Colorado @Lawrence Argent
Ghost Trolley
“Ghost Trolley” 2007 Location: Aurora, Colorado @Lawrence Argent

Rail first linked Denver to the rest of the nation in 1870. Within a year, the city began to create its internal rail system. By 1883, the Denver City Railway had laid over fifteen miles of track….The streetcar was a major force in urban development. Trolleys allowed urban dwellers to put greater distance between their places of work and their residences. People responded eagerly to he promise of a suburban home that provided a haven from the rougher side of downtown life. Businesses quickly followed the trolleys outward. – Lawrence Argent

You can see Argent’s art across the country and worldwide. I highly encourage everyone to check out his site to view his other projects and to of course experience his works first hand. If you want to take home your own little blue bear, then you will be glad to know that you can purchase one online at the Denver Art Museum website. Personally, I’m hoping to find my very own blue bear during Denver’s next Art Drop Day!

Blue-Bear-at-Knotty-Tie-Art-Drop-Day-2016
A mini blue bear for Denver Art Drop Day

 

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