Vail Village’s parking garage is getting new art installations

Visitors admire the countless birdhouses in “We All Build Nests,” one of four works donated by the Logan family.
Ben Ruof/Special to the Daily

Four new art sculptures were installed in Vail Village this summer, thanks to a generous donation from local art collectors Kent and Vicki Logan. Each of the sculptures is hand-selected by the Logans from their extensive private art collection, which specializes in contemporary works by modern artists.

The pieces celebrate the connection with nature, with a strong emphasis on local artists and art forms.

All of the new sculptures are installed around the Vail Village parking garage, where visitors will encounter them as they enter the village and again on their way out. Molly Eppard, coordinator of Art in Public Places, said these new pieces from the Logans help Vail elevate its collection and expand its artistic presence beyond what is typically expected of a ski town.

Art in Public Places recently installed descriptive plaques at the base of each sculpture to provide context for the artists and their works, and will add the latest acquisitions to the ART in Vail interactive map on soon.

We all build nests

The most notable new installation is a sculpture by Jason Middlebrook called We All Build Nests, created in 2014-2015. Middlebrook conceptualized the piece while staying in Vail with the Logans and noticing the many species of birds that populate the valley.

The sculpture is made up of dozens of birdhouses, each meeting the size specifications of a local bird species so that they can be used as living quarters. Each birdhouse is designed to mimic an iconic architectural structure, and those viewing the piece can spend time recognizing landmarks from around the world such as the Egyptian pyramids, the Roman Pantheon, an arctic igloo, a Native American tipi, and more.

The grouping of birdhouses atop a pillar-like base is meant to mimic the shape of an aspen, giving the whimsical concept roots in a natural environment.

“We All Build Nests” is installed just outside the Vail Village parking garage, across from the covered bridge bus stop. Eppard said they chose the location because it allows viewers to view the work from different heights and angles, thanks to the staircase that encircles the work. With so many individual birdhouses in one piece, every angle reveals a different collection of houses, and viewing the work from above, below and at eye level allows them all to be noticed and appreciated.

“Killer Whale Totem”

Looking up at the garage from East Meadow Drive, if you walk up the left side of the stairs, you’ll come across the Killer Whale Totem, a bronze sculpture by Native American sculptor Preston Singletary.

Singletary, an artist from Seattle, is a member of the Tlingit tribe of the Pacific Northwest. His eight-foot-tall “Killer Whale Totem” features his clan’s crest, the killer whale, in the center. The eagle atop the totem is the symbol of Singletary’s section or family group, and the red Thunderbird in the center represents David Swenson, one of his mentors. At the bottom is a wolf design, which was the original Tlingit part before it was replaced by an Eagle.

The Killer Whale Totem replaced Robert Tully’s sculpture, which has now been moved across the street.
Ben Ruof/Special to the Daily

The Logans are among the leading patrons of contemporary Native American art and help local museums and curators, including the Denver Art Museum, place greater emphasis on contemporary artists of genius.

The Killer Whale Totem replaced the Robert Tully sculpture that stood in its place, which has now been moved across the street, right next to the bus stop. Eppard said Tully’s 1999 sculpture “Forked Pattern” blends into the rocky backdrop and can be better appreciated in its new location.

‘Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V)

Just across the way, to the right of the central stairs, is another totem created by Brad Kahlhammer.

Kahlhammer is of Native American descent, but was adopted by German-American parents. Calamer’s birth records are sealed, cutting him off from information about his Native American ancestry, and he uses art as an exploration of what he calls “The Third Place”—the meeting of his two personal histories.

“Waqui Totem USA (Urban Class Mark V)” is one of the many steps Kahlamer has taken on this journey of self-exploration that may reverberate in Vail and all western communities located on former home soil.

Calamer’s work explores his personal history as a Native American adopted by German-American parents.
Ben Ruof/Special to the Daily

The totem pole, made in 2008, was originally made of cardboard but is now cast in bronze, standing 10 feet tall next to the staircase. Eppard said the site was chosen because it created a natural triangulation with Singletary’s and Middlebrook’s works, but also because the totem had to face west as part of its spiritual essence.

The sculpture was commissioned as an original work by the Logan family, who became close friends with Calamer, and now finds a permanent home in the town of Vail.

“Two containers (unwrapped)”

The fourth and final piece of the Logans’ donation is a large bronze sculpture by Durango-born artist Nathan Mabry, located at the far left of the parking garage, next to Solaris Vail.

Mabry draws influence for his figures from archaeological and historical sources ranging from ancient civilization to popular culture. The figure in Two Vessels is derived from those used in fertility rituals in Jalisco, Mexico, placed in a position that immediately evokes associations with Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

The totem-like sculptural style and intense facial expression contrast with the box’s minimalist base, and Kent Logan said he wanted the contemplative nature of the piece to make people stop and think.

“It challenges the senses,” Kent Logan told the Vail Daily after the donation was finalized in December. “I like a lot of different decorative arts, but they don’t make you think. You can have a great sculpture of a bear or a mountain and admire the technique and the presentation, but suddenly someone comes across this Mabry piece and says, “What’s that all about?”

Mabry’s Two Vessels stares contemplatively at the village.
Ben Ruof/Special to the Daily

The sculpture is placed by itself in an enclave to the side of the staircase, with a tree growing above the figure, enhancing the contemplative nature of the piece. There is also a natural connection between the new Mabry and an older Logan donation, Lawrence Weiner’s “To the Degree of How Deep the Valley Is at a Time,” located on the same side of the parking garage.

For those interested in learning more about the new works, Art in Public Places is hosting free guided tours every Wednesday from now until August 31. Tours meet at the Vail Welcome Center at 11 a.m. and cover many works on the Vail Village grounds within an hour, including the four newest pieces. For more information, visit or contact Molly Eppard at [email protected].

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