Meet Glenwood Springs’ chosen North Landing artist, Madeline Wiener
November 22, 2018
When Colorado artist Madeline Wiener discovered what she calls "the Stone" up in Marble, her life changed forever.
Now, "the transplant from back East" gets the once-in-lifetime opportunity to plant a piece of her own life's work in the city formerly known as Defiance.
"I have dedicated my career to creating sculpture for public places — sculpture that is intended to be touched, interacted with, functional — and I came to designing a series of works that I call, 'Bench People,'" the stone carver who splits her time between Boulder and Marble said in a recent phone interview.
Wiener's work, which lives in places as near as Montrose and as abroad as Scotland, exhibits a bit of Defiance itself.
"I just felt like it was such a great opportunity to get people to touch the stone and feel the warmth, feel the coolness, feel textures — do all of those things that are taboo when a visitor goes to a museum or a gallery," Wiener said.
Wiener's next sculpture work will reside at the place where the former Grand Avenue Bridge once touched down, the city-owned North Landing site.
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Thanks to a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant awarded to Glenwood Springs earlier this year, Wiener was selected as the desired artist to create a sculpture for the open space. And now, the community not only gets the opportunity to meet the artist herself, but additionally give input on her future work at two public art charrettes, taking place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday and again Dec. 5 at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
"Coming home and doing it right in my own backyard, this is more than an honor," Wiener emphasized. "I could not have dreamed that I would have been the one selected for this particular project.
"Whatever it is that I will be doing, I will be doing it out of a block of Colorado yule marble, which comes from the quarries just round the bend in Marble, Colorado."
Before sculpting that block of Colorado yule marble, Wiener wants to meet and hear from the community where it will live, for further inspiration.
"I do not know what I am doing yet, and that is where the community gets involved," Wiener said.
Carving the fine line of gauging what the public wants versus what the sculptor may desire seems like a monumental challenge, especially for an artist. However, Wiener seems an exception to the rule.
"Right off the bat, they will know that I am a stone carver, and they will be acquainted with my work because there will be visuals put up around the room, and they will see other sculptures that have been created in this genre, in this style of my Bench People," Wiener said of her message to those offering input.
"They will get to know me, but I will also get to know them, and that way I can be thinking about what they might like to see out there," she said.
Although Wiener's Bench People sit all over the world, the stone carver stresses the importance of giving each piece that she does its own sense of identity that reflects the world it lives in specifically.
"That is where the people will come in. Do they want to see a child? Do they want to see two children? … I cannot give this away, but I want to do something that leaves an impressionable size and can be seen from a distance," Wiener added.
"Do they want me to go Native American? There is a huge Hispanic community, so, do they want me to stay in that genre or that culture? I will listen to them."