Family history, travel tie Sculpture in the Park artists to their work

By Sam Lounsberry

Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

Katie and Corey Charboneau of Loveland talk with their friend and artist Ted Schall, also of Loveland on Saturday during the Sculpture in the Park Show and

Katie and Corey Charboneau of Loveland talk with their friend and artist Ted Schall, also of Loveland on Saturday during the Sculpture in the Park Show and Sale in Benson Sculpture Garden. Schall’s sculpture titled “Desert Mirage,” through which the couple is visible, was inspired by a real mirage of a mountain and dry lake bed that the artist saw while traveling through the Nevada desert. (Christopher Stark / For the Reporter-Herald)

For at least one artist at this weekend’s annual Sculpture in the Park show at Benson Sculpture Garden, crafting artwork from stone began as a family business.

Scott Luken’s interest in sculpting from granite evolved from his legacy as a third-generation stone memorialist, whose family has been in the business of cutting headstones.

This year, Fresnel lenses meant to focus light beams for theater spotlights have been integrated in several of Luken’s granite pieces featured at the art show that brings sculptors, buyers and art appreciators from across the nation to Loveland.

Both “Sun Dogs” and “Point of View” include the special lenses, which Luken said can even focus enough sunlight to start leaves on fire and melt a plastic water bottle when struck at the right angle by the sun.

“I like to joke around that if someone doesn’t like their neighbor, they can buy a piece and aim the lens at the neighbor’s house to burn it down,” Luken said with a laugh.

Luken said he purchased the Fresnel lenses when they were auctioned off at a school whose theater department replaced its lights. The world appears inverted when looking through the lenses.

The Yankton, S.D. resident said he had success at Sculpture in the Park last year, his first being a vendor at the show, and his granite work “Intonation” was even dedicated as a permanent piece in Benson Sculpture Garden earlier this year.

The challenge carving granite offers compared to softer stones is enjoyed by Luken, who said most sculptors avoid working with the hard stone.

Though other stone and wood pieces were featured in each of the tents at the art festival, bronze was among the most common mediums used by artists.

An eye-catching bronze piece on display by Loveland artist Ted Schaal involved two textured triangles pointing in opposite directions adjoined by a spherical orb made of stainless steel, and is titled “Desert Mirage.”

Kwayedza Tafura, 4, of Longmont takes a look at a granite sculpture called "Ancient Gears" by Scott Luken of Yankton, S.D. on Saturday during the

Kwayedza Tafura, 4, of Longmont takes a look at a granite sculpture called “Ancient Gears” by Scott Luken of Yankton, S.D. on Saturday during the Sculpture in the Park Show and Sale at Benson Sculpture Garden. Tafura was at the show with his father Stalin Tafura, who is also a sculptor. (Christopher Stark / For the Reporter-Herald)

Schaal, who is spending his ninth year as a Sculpture in the Park invitee, said his inspiration for the piece came from driving across the Nevada desert, when he saw a large shape looming above a dry lake bed on the horizon. As he kept driving, he discovered what the object was.

“It turned out to be a mountain,” Schaal said.

A couple, Katie and Corey Charboneau, who said they know Schaal through their children attending school with his, admired “Desert Mirage” and Schaal’s other work for some time.

Saturday was the first time the Charboneaus had seen Schaal’s work, they said while gazing at “Desert Mirage.”

“I’d love to have a place to display this,” Katie said.

While the Charboneaus said they were considering purchasing a piece over the weekend, representatives from other art shows inspected the talent on display to see which artists may be a good fit for nearby shows. Others simply toured through the tents to take in the beauty of the various compositions.

For example, Patti Davidsmeier, a liaison for the Mayor’s Art Council show in Gillette, Wyo. strolled through Benson Sculpture Garden, as she does every year for Sculpture in the Park, with her sister-in-law Denise Davidsmeier, who witnessed the renowned sculpture show for the first time.

“I’ve been hearing about for all these years, and now I’m finally seeing it,” Denise said. “I think it’s impressive. The artists are so open and friendly.”

Sam Lounsberry: 970-635-3630, slounsberry@prairiemountainmedia.com and twitter.com/samlounz.

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