Artist comes to town for sculpture dedication

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By Jennifer Garcia

The sun shone brightly Friday afternoon, glinting off of the sculpture entitled “Nexus,” turning it from purple to blue.

A small group of people gathered in front of the Hilltop House Hotel to recognize Arizona artist Lyle London for his sculpture.

The group, comprised mostly of county staff, as well as County Councilor Sharon Stover, former councilor Frances Berting and Arts in Public Places Board members John Hofmann and Joanna Gillespie gathered around as London spoke about the sculpture and his experience in constructing it.

“Nexus” was installed in its current location last fall, after county council approved its purchase and installation at the Dec. 6, 2005, council meeting.

The approval was based on a recommendation councilors received from the Art in Public Places Board.

Board Liaison Stephani Johnson said the board actually began discussion regarding the purchase of a new piece for the county art collection in the fall of 2003.

At that time, board member Min Park was appointed to chair an ad hoc subcommittee to explore options for such a purchase.

The subcommittee created a list of criteria to help guide the selection of the new purchase, which included content, style and material and artist selection.

Johnson said the board decided to look for forms of art, which relate to the history and/or culture of Los Alamos.

Since one of the goals of the board is to achieve a balance in the collection, the board decided to focus on a selection of abstract art, since 11 of the 15 outdoor sculptures the county has in its collection are realistic in nature.

The board also gave consideration to the materials that would be used to construct the sculpture.

They were looking for material that would be durable and low maintenance.

Johnson said the board utilized a search process that included consideration of regional artists, as well as artists represented by state art agencies and commercial galleries.

The subcommittee brought forward information from over 15 artists. The Board narrowed that list down to three and after further inquiry, unanimously approved Lyle London’s “Nexus.”

London and his daughter Nicole flew into Los Alamos Airport and met with county staff at the Blue Window Bistro for lunch, prior to dedicating the sculpture.

“It’s an honor. It’s especially nice to meet people that comprise the day-to-day audience,” London said. “I think it does everything we wanted it to do. It draws attention to the entrance of town.”

London also said that it was a bit of a trial getting the sculpture done, but said that the people who helped get it together were very supportive.

“We’re used to the color shifting phenomenon in nature. We consider some of those things to be some of the most beautiful things in nature,” London said, comparing the paint job on “Nexus” to hummingbirds’ wings and fish.

“It’s been a great ride to be able to incorporate something that’s usually used as an auto paint.”

Hofmann also said a few words during the dedication.

He began by welcoming everyone and thanking Berting, County Administrator Max Baker, Assistant County Administrator Diana Stepan and Stover, as well as Johnson and Gillespie.

“I equally want to thank Lyle for making a special trip and sharing this. People don’t believe the way it picks up the colors. It’s a tremendous asset to our community,” Hofmann said. “Thank you so much for your artwork and bringing your daughter and coming here today.”

London is a 1969 cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and has studied with sculptor Varujan Boghosian, as well as various visiting artists at Dartmouth College in the late ’60s.

Jack Zajac’s style of biomorphic abstraction has had a lasting influence on his work.

After several years of carving stone and practical experience in the art bronze foundry, he began working primarily in metal.

He is the owner of Art in Metal USA, LLC, a custom design and fabrication firm with 15 employees. His business specializes in fine art fabrication of both his own, and other artists’ work.