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Outside: Exploring Longmont's outdoor art

Outdoor art is hidden along Longmont's many hiking and biking trails, just waiting to be found.

Longmont’s bounty of parks and open spaces are a reward all to themselves, a subject that could fill books. It’s a lucky thing that natural beauty isn’t the only thing waiting for discovery. Longmont’s Art in Public Places commission has helped install more than 75 permanent sculptures and murals throughout town. Some are hard to miss, like the murals and metal arches in the breezeways downtown. Others may require a little purposeful adventuring.

Lining the Greenway between Sunset Ave and the Rogers Grove Nature Area are a series of three sculptures titled “The Details of Nature.” The castings sit on plinths, enlarged replicas of parts of plants and insects that would be too small for the human eye to take in their full complexity. The pieces were installed in 1998, and survived the 2013 floods. Nearby, the Listening Stone offers a place for passersby to sit, look out at the river and the northern horizon.

Izaak Walton Nature Area, on the east side of Sunset Ave, is home to a piece titled “Gather Enough People Here.” A platform and scale, the interactive sculpture will spread its wings with enough people in one place.


Lefthand's CompassLefthand's Compass on the Quail Campus (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


Out on the Quail Campus, sculptures like “New Dancing Moon IX” and “Lefthand’s Compass” add to the sense of place, as well as the history of the land the town was settled on. The pond between the Rec Center and the Longmont Museum hides art in plain sight. Titled “Feather Flight,” the sculptures pivot and twist in the wind much like their namesakes.


Feather FlightFeather Flight near the Longmont Recreation Center (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


Murals painted on the sides of underpasses are more than just color on artifice, but an invitation. Angela Brill, Art in Public Places administrator, was quick to highlight one of her favorites. “The mural “Happy Tree” matches the odd shape of the underpass. It encourages you to explore, to take in the whole thing. You truly have to get out of your car, off the beaten path and onto the greenway to find it.”


Lady and the DamselLady and the Damsel near Dickens Farm Park (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


More than just a beautiful, sprawling float course, the Dickens Farm Nature Area has some unique art as well. “The Lady and the Damsel” are on the southern edge of the park, where the green gives way to shopping centers. At first glance, the tree-mounted sculptures are bright, colorful representations of a ladybug and damselfly, but closer inspection reveals the pieces to be made of repurposed bicycle parts.


DamselDamsel is a damselfly made from recycled bicycle parts (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


New pieces are joining the list before the end of the year. One is set to be installed this coming weekend, weather permitting, with an announcement to follow. The other has already been installed, though it had already been seen in town as part of Art on the Move.

Ursa Major was installed just a few weeks ago in a breezeway off Main Street, a looming metal sculpture of a bear. “There’s nothing like it in the collection, so that’s exciting. Our mission is to diversify the collection and public works, and make them accessible.” Brill stated.


Ursa MajorUrsa Major located in the 300 block of Main Street (Photo by Matt Maenpaa)


Paul Meese, former AIPP committee chairman, was happy it finally found a home. “I was excited to get the ball rolling on that one, to have a piece that was well loved and continues to support Colorado artists.”

Sometimes the best part of adventure can be the discoveries close to home. Better yet when they invite a sense of wonder and beauty. Longmont’s public trails and parks are there to explore, with physical maps available at the library and civic center, as well as online.

Do you have a favorite piece of art in Longmont? Let us know!