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At their meeting on July 13, members of the Salida Public Arts Commission (PAC) reached a consensus on three finalists from a field of 37 entrants, in a call to arts for a $60,000 commissioned public art sculpture slated for the site adjacent to the original skate park and along the Monarch Spur Trail at 200 West First Street in Salida. The three will compete in a final round in August, with installation slated for fall, 2023.

Monies for the commission were funded as a percent of the general sales tax and included in the annual Salida City budget, with the work to be chosen by the Council-appointed PAC.

Three Finalists chosen from 37 entrants

Frésquez retired from Metropolitan State University of Denver in May, 2023 as an art professor and alumnus. He has been a fixture in Colorado art circles for more than three decades. His partner for this competition is one of the winners of the 10th annual Bonnaroo-themed skylight exhibition at Nashville International Airport, announced this June.

Parson currently serves as the Director of Galleries and Curator for the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities in Arvada, Colorado and is a former member at the historic Pirate: Contemporary Art cooperative and past artist-in-residence at RedLine Denver. According to his website, Parson’s (son of Colorado sculptor Charles Parson), “… creative work involves the control of light and color to create vivid geometric light and space works.”

Culpepper-Rose art advisors describe Haddaway this way: “Whimsical and fun describe the sculptures created by Ed Haddaway, who says his works are pipelines to the unconscious. With nods to Calder and Carl Jung, there’s a jaunty, buoyant, cartoony aspect to his pieces.  He gravitates toward color, old patinas, and rusty surfaces for everything from tabletop-sized sculptures to large outdoor commissions.”

All three of the finalist appealed to the commission as standout professionals. As a group, they use bold colors, negative space and sometimes lighting to create dramatic pieces that the commission wants to be seen as apart from those in other mountain towns.

The call for artists was posted in June on the widely-used “CAFE” site and was open to all artists and teams with preference given to those residing within a 500-mile radius of Salida. Submitted artwork is not to be duplicated within 200 miles of the site.

Commission members considered multiple local artists while at the same time seeking the highest quality work. They looked to bring fresh ideas and a varied portfolio of art to this site at the eastern gateway to the downtown Creative District.

The judging consumed two formal meetings as well as countless hours on the part of the PAC members who reviewed all the submissions.

Selection Criteria and Next Round for Final Decision

The current, seven-member PAC (as voted by the Salida City Council) includes practicing artists and creatives and consists of Chair, Martin Jolley, Suzy Patterson, Ken Brandon, Carmel Burton, Dania Pettus, Maura Adamson and Reed Govert as voting members, plus Patrick O’Brien and Michael Varnum from the Salida Arts & Culture Division.

The PAC reviewed slides of existing similar works, resumés, and in some cases, a sketch or maquette (model) of the artist’s intent. During the next round, the final decision will rank the aspects listed below, based on in-person interviews in late August. A color rendering and/or maquette of the proposed piece plus a detailed project budget will be required at that time and the finalists paid a $100 proposal fee.

Finalists will also be judged on their ability to work with the PAC and other interested city departments like Parks and Recreation and Public Works. They will need to demonstrate an ability to execute their plan on time and on budget, according to their signed contract. Installation is slated for Fall 2023.


  • Strong visual presence
  • Creativity of approach
  • Appropriateness of the proposed artwork to the site
  • Aesthetic quality
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Resistance to weather, vandalism, and graffiti
  • Materials, construction, and durability
  • Public safety
  • Ability to work in a collaborative setting
  • References from clients

Challenges identified with this project

Tall sign marks the original Salida Skate Park at 200 West First Street ion Salida. Ken Witz 2021 photo

Commission members have identified a few challenges with the project and site. Namely, the tall Salida Skate Park sign apparently needs to remain at the site (perhaps to acknowledge the legacy use of the concrete bowl behind the sign), which is still in use, primarily by younger skaters.

Apart from taking up space on the available footprint of the 18’x16′ site, the sign cannot compete with, nor overpower the selected sculpture.  The sculpture must remain highly visible to those walking, driving, or bike riding on First Street at the Monarch Spur Trail.

Additionally, as sculptures can often be quite heavy and there is a reported underground culvert running through the area, structural considerations must be given to the installation. And, as there is some interest in having the sculpture lit, the PAC also must engage with Salida and CDOT officials so as not to distract motorists.

Some history about the use of this site

The original Salida Skate Park site is not without controversy. While it spawned the new Centennial Park skate site (skaters and the City helped fund it), as Ark Valley Voice reported in 2021, a wide-ranging, proposed art and landscape project planned at the downtown site (dubbed “The Spirit of Salida”) was meant to appeal to a variety of locals, skaters, heritage tourists, and others. The project’s lofty goals aimed for diversity, culture, and traditions. But without consensus, ultimately the concept was canceled altogether.

With the new Skate Park now operational at Centennial Park and the original version reconditioned and still in daily use, the proposed sculpture is a scaled-down vision of fine art coexisting with sports at the site. According to the call for art, “the concept should be considered a ‘landmark’ that can be associated with Salida, one that will draw attention and encourage engagement.”

Given the professional artist makeup of the PAC, Salidans may be challenged with sophisticated art, making a statement that sets the bar for what is Colorado’s first Creative District, while appropriate for the City of Salida and these times.

Featured image: Aerial view of the original Salida Skate Park. Image courtesy Lost Coast Longboarding