Montrose, CO – What is the value of public art in Montrose? City councilors and staff debated the question Monday during their work session with members of the "Save the Montrose Sculptures” committee, a local group with a mission to retain two large bronze sculptures that have been on loan in downtown for years.
The sculptures, "Bad Decision" depicting a mounted cowboy on horse wrangling a deer at the intersection of Main Street and Townsend Ave, and “Where Eagles Dare”, a massive depiction of a grizzly battling an eagle at the intersection of Main Street and Uncompahgre Avenue, have been on loan from William F. Widger since 2012. Renowned Wyoming artist Vic Payne created the bronze works, which have an estimated value of $900,000.
In 2017 the Save the Montrose Sculptures committee worked with Widger to keep the sculptures in Montrose until April 12, 2019. Widger agreed to reduce the price of the two sculptures from $900,000 down to $250,000 as an incentive to keep the works in downtown Montrose.
Members of the committee reported to councilors Monday that they have raised nearly $104,000 from area donations in an effort to purchase the sculptures.
Committee member Bob Brown told councilors that keeping the sculptures in Montrose is a "win-win" because the sculptures have become part of the community's downtown identity, and the price of the works is more affordable than ever.
Brown said the time had come for the committee and the city to work together to purchase the sculptures and give them a permanent home in downtown.
"We need to see if we can come up with something. Like I said, it’s a win-win,” Brown told councilors.
He said the feedback from the community, along with tourists from around the world, has been positive and added that the sculptures represent the local ranching and outdoor heritage of the Montrose area.
The $104,000 raised has been received through 450 area donations, 364 of those were cash donations. Brown said the committee has received over 900 local signatures of support on a petition to retain the sculptures.
Brown said the next step was to arrange a meeting between Widger, the committee, the City of Montrose and members of the Downtown Development Authority to brainstorm solutions to keep the sculptures. He said September could be a good time to get everyone together.
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Bowman said the time had come for the city and the committee to work with the DDA to keep the iconic works as a benefit to the community and downtown.
"I'll be happy to be part of that process," Bowman said.
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