Gallery hopes people don’t get the point of this artwork | AspenTimes.com

Gallery hopes people don’t get the point of this artwork

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Cary Jobe photo."American Horse" stands watch outside the Aspen Mountain Gallery. At left is the dagger, duct-taped to protect the public.

An Aspen art gallery is grappling with a point: how to keep locals and tourists out of harm’s way from a sedentary piece of art.

“American Horse,” a bronze statue of an American Indian in full headdress and moccasins, with a rifle slung over his right shoulder, has been guarding the entrance of Aspen Mountain Gallery since December. The sculpture, created in 1994 by artist Dave McGary, is in a prominent location at the west end of the Hyman Avenue mall, where families gather and locals wait for the bus.

The edge of the figure’s sharp dagger is the point in question. It sits at about four feet off the ground, and some short-in-stature pedestrians could run into the knife.

It’s a possibility that hasn’t escaped store owner Ginger Swenson. Since the figure has been positioned outside, she said she’s gone through two authentic leather sheaths for the knife, several styrofoam casings and one bubble-wrap solution to guard the tip of the bronze blade, but all were stolen.

One of the leather sheaths stolen was worth $140.

Currently, the sculpture’s dagger is well concealed with some foam and silver duct tape.

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Store manager David Harding said no one has been hurt by the dagger, but he also added that if he had a dollar for every tourist that snapped a picture of someone with the sculpture, he’d retire.

Workers at the gallery, which used to be located next to the Steak Pit, rolled the sculpture down Mill Street on a dolly, surrounded with pillows, one Monday in late November. The entire statue weighs just under one ton.

“American Horse” was left outside at its last location for two years, but Harding noted that was a low-profile location. And Swenson said she’s been approached twice by Aspen police to cover up the blade.

She maintained that she’ll do what she can since thieves keep lifting her different attempts at safety, but added that the sculpture is on private property.

“You really have to watch out for those styrofoam thieves,” Harding joked. “But we have a lot more duct tape.”