When we moved to Loveland from the Denver suburbs in 2003, people thought we were moving to the ski area just east of the Eisenhower Tunnel. The city wasn’t well-known at the time. Ryan, who grew up in Colorado, hadn’t heard of Loveland. However, when we visited Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2004, everyone knew Loveland, Colorado. This is an art city, and it’s been this way for a long time.
We discovered Loveland in a book titled “100 Best Small Art Towns in America” by John Villani, originally published in 1994. Loveland is #8 in the book and Villani writes that it inspired the book. That’s high praise, and also the reason we found ourselves driving through its tree-lined streets in June of 2003. By October, we’d bought a home here. So, basically, we live here because of the art.
In 1972, before any other foundry was located in town, Art Castings of Colorado opened its doors on 518 8th Southeast in Loveland. Ironically, a stone’s throw from my husband’s woodworking shop. Today, sculptures are sent from around the states, and the world, to be bronzed at Art Castings. In fact, they even have a contract to do sculptures of Woody, the famous cowboy from “Toy Story.”
I’m not even sure that the average Lovelander knows how famous this place is, or the famous names who have come here through the years. Unless there are larger-than-life statues outside awaiting cranes to load them up and move them away, the foundry is nondescript and located in a large white warehouse. However, the staff here are world-class.
I got the opportunity to tour the facility with renowned sculptor, and Loveland local, George Lundeen of Lundeen Sculpture. He has known the owners at Art Castings since the beginning, starting his own studio at 348 East 4th Street in 1982. By the late 1980s, there were multiple foundries in Loveland, and it was well-established as an arts community.
What is a foundry? It is not a forge. At a forge, metal is heated and then beat into shape. At a foundry, the process involves casting metals by pouring them into a mold, which they make from the sculpture that usually arrives in clay. It’s quite a process and quite frankly, I’m not going to go into it all here. Take a tour if you get the chance. A lot of talented people turn these art pieces into the masterpieces that we’re lucky enough to see all over Loveland.
I got to tour George Lundeen’s studio on the same day I toured Art Castings. He and his brother, Mark Lundeen, have a contract to create sculptures for new SCHEELS’ stores. A store is opening in Arizona. In the alley behind the studio, they were preparing to move these larger-than-life pieces to their new home. The air sizzled with excitement as these huge bronzed figures were prepared to be loaded onto trucks and taken to Arizona.
By the way, the things that go on at a foundry have been taking place for thousands of years. Sculpture is an art form from prehistoric times. Some of the earliest known works of sculpture date from around 32,000 B.C. (J. Paul Getty Museum). However, while artists have been casting sculptures in bronze for more than 3,000 years, the American foundry didn’t establish until the 1850s. For more visit The Met online.
As a longtime Lovelander, the scene behind the Lundeen Sculpture studio is one that I won’t soon forget. And I won’t forget the tour of Art Castings of Colorado. I feel proud, as I did twenty years ago when I moved here. I am proud that Loveland is known for sculpture, and art, in communities around the world. As citizens of this city in Northern Colorado, this stellar art reputation is something for which we can and should be proud.
If you’d like to see sculptures in Loveland, Colorado, it’s not difficult. Sculptures line the streets of downtown, primarily between 1st Street and 4th Street. However, Benson Sculpture Garden is brimming with sculptural delights. Stroll through the park located at 2908 Aspen Drive, and enjoy 178 sculptures scattered throughout 10 acres of land. The park is photo-worthy at any time of year but I love it in the fall. Dedicated in 1985, I always take family and other visitors to Loveland to Benson Sculpture Garden.
Located on the other side of town, and with an entirely different feel, Chapungu Sculpture Park is 26 acres just east of The Promenade Shops at Centerra. There are 82 stone sculptures here from Zimbabuen artists. Of course, these are chiseled from rock, and they aren’t made like the majority of the sculptures in Loveland, but that’s what makes this entire park special. It’s a wonderful place to go walking, bird watching, or photographing and then partake in lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants at the mall or in the surrounding area of east Loveland.
I love the ability I have through HeidiTown to share the sculpture and art reputation of Loveland with you, my readers. Now, spread the word! Even Lovelanders don’t realize how cool this town is and has been for many decades. Long live art. Long live sculpture.