The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 41 - 6/8/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Concrete Cowboy profile silhouette represents past & future of Pinedale
by Rob Shaul
Pinedale's Millennium Artist, Don Kennell, has developed his initial design for a public sculpture in Pinedale. At a public meeting Monday evening in the Pinedale Library, Mr. Kennell presented several drawings of his ideas for the public sculpture to a group of approximately 15 members of the public. After the presentation and a spirited give and take with the public in attendance, the group decided to proceed with a 15-foot high, concrete sculpture of a cowboy silhouette inside of which would be several smaller sculptures representing the history and future of Pinedale and Sublette County.
In their previous public meetings concerning the sculpture, Mr. Kennell and the Pinedale Fine Arts Council have distributed surveys aimed at getting input into the content and location of the sculpture. Approximately 30 of the surveys were returned, according to Mr. Kennell, and there was wide variation in the responses.
One of the questions on the survey asked for suggestions about the overall "theme" of the sculpture. Ten of the respondents requested the sculpture have a "historical" theme, said Mr. Kennell. Six of the respondents suggested a "wildlife" theme and the remainder of the responses were varied.
For his own part, Mr. Kennell told the group that he's spent his first two months in Pinedale researching the town and county's history and speaking to numerous residents from all walks of life. Based on his research, he describes Pinedale as a "complex place, with lots of rich history and independent people."
Mr. Kennell explained that he wants to include as many of these images in the final sculpture as he can. This led him to design "something big with lots of little stuff."
15ft Cowboy Silhouette
On Monday, Mr. Kennell presented a design which he felt captured the goals behind the public sculpture and his artistic vision. The designe is of a 2-foot thick, 15-foot high cowboy profile silhouette made of concrete and dyed a reddish, brown color. Lines in the silhouette would be constructed of silvery galvanized metal, which would contrast with the concrete.
Numerous holes will be punched through the profile, and inset in each will be 2-foot tall, cast aluminum sculptures of selected images. For example, Mr. Kennell proposed that one of the smaller sculptures be a beaver, which would represent the mountain man.
Mr. Kennell explained that he chose the silhouette of the cowboy because ranching and ranching families have always been a stable and central part of Pinedale and Sublette County. He drew the silhouette from the profile of a Sublette County cowboy he found in a historical book of ranching in Sublette County.
The sculpture is not only supposed to represent the past but also the future of the county. Concerning the future, Mr. Kennell explained that the holes through the silhouette could be seen as the "windows" on a computer screen, and the viewer could point and click through the history of Pinedale. He sees technology and the changes the computer age is bringing as the future of our community.
Initially, Mr. Kennell's two designs were met with skepticism by the public in attendance. One person asked about the large size of the sculptures. Mr. Kennell responded that the size represented the "scale of the landscape here."
Several people expressed concerns with the "busyness" of the sculpture. They suggested a more simple, "clean" piece.
One of the drawings Mr. Kennell had posted was of an arch made of interlocking trout. Although he didn't present this piece, several in attendance liked it, initially better than the cowboy silhouette.
In defense, Mr. Kennell acknowledged that his designs could be seen as complex, but said that was on of his goals. His wants to hold the viewer, and its his experience that the more complex the piece, the longer the average viewer spends looking at it. "A complex piece is going to hold people," he explained.
Concerning location, Mr. Kennell said there has been much opposition to placing the sculpture in the American Legion Park. He said the piece could be located in one of several locations, but his preference was ice skating pond on Pine Street adjacent to the Chamber Hutt and across from the 1st National Bank of Pinedale. He thought this location would maximize viewers, plus it could become a central part of the ice skating during the winter.
By the end of Mr. Kennell's presentation, and the question and answer session, most of the skepticism in the room had evaporated.
Mr. Kennell will set up a table in Faler's this Saturday to present his initial design proposal and get public feedback and suggestions. PFAC will host another public meeting next Tuesday, July 13 at 7 p.m. in the Pinedale Library.
Mr. Kennell encourages anyone with questions about his initial design or suggestions for the sculpture to call him at home. His phone number is 367-4187.
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