Park Hill artist Reven Swanson offers levity through heavy metal
By Erin Vanderberg/Editor
A few years back, a colorful sculpture cropped up on the corner of 23rd and Kearney, planted in the same spot where a garage signpost once stood.
The artist, Reven Swanson, wanted only for Dancing Moon Spinning to be enjoyed by the neighborhood she lived in, and saw opportunity in that void of the Art Garage parking lot.
“This was my opportunity to add to the wonderful efforts of the Art Garage,” said Swanson. “Barb (McKee) is doing a wonderful thing, bringing art classes to the community. I don’t have time to give classes, so this is my way of giving back. It brought some culture to the corner.”
Not everyone has discovered that the sculpture actually moves. But those who have can’t seem to get enough of it. Take, for example, Sam and Alex Shikiar. According to their mom, Dell, all the boys want to do when they come to Kearney street is to play on the sculpture.
For Swanson, who has sculpted metal for nearly 30 years and requires spreadsheets to keep straight which sculptures are where and on what terms, satisfaction is derived from having the art out in the open air to be enjoyed by the public and moved by the wind.
“The reason I do these public art installations, rather than pushing to be in galleries and museums, is because 90 percent of the people who see that work on the corner might have never seen it if it were in a gallery,” said Swanson.
Armed with a special toolbox, Swanson can yank the parts she needs for a sculpture – in the case of Dancing Moon Spinning, a 1983 Chrysler LeBaron hub – in ten minutes time.
“The part is designed to go around a corner, at speed, with a car on it, so it makes a great hub for sitting pieces,” said Swanson.
She also has two trucks for hauling metal, a diesel truck rated for 12,000 pounds and a pickup. “It’s not as easy moving a sculpture as it is a painting,” she said. She measures weight in how many people it takes to move a sculpture. For Dancing Moon Spinning, it was four people – 400 pounds.
Swanson grew up in Denver, graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in journalism. She worked in advertising and newspaper production out of college, evolving into a graphic designer as the field was emerging. But her passion was always fine art, and so she embarked on a self-guided “Masters program” as an artist’s apprentice in Italy. Before she quit the “W2 earning” for good, she bought her house on Dexter in the early 1990s.
The property itself is evidence of her gift. She turned a rundown property into an urban oasis, doing nearly all the work herself, while planting a garden from seed as she went. A visit with her today will have you clucking at her beloved chickens and tasting her preserves while marveling at the tools of her trade in her indoor and outdoor art studios. Everything touched with art.
Online at: revenswanson.com.