LONGMONT -- On the night that floodwaters began ripping through Longmont, Robert Tully drove up from his home in Louisville. The artist was worried. He had six works of public art located along the St. Vrain Greenway, where the swelling river was causing devastation. He wanted to see if his work was threatened.
"I was really scared," Tully said in an interview last week. "These artworks are potentially irreplaceable."
He watched from a distance. Four of the works are installed at Roger's Grove, a park that the St. Vrain River runs through north of the Boulder County Fairgrounds. Three of the installations were compromised, including "Kestral's Way.
"The problem is the river moved 60 feet to the north," Tully said. "It's no longer focused on the river, so it's lost a lot of its acoustic sharpness ... It really needs to be relocated."
Tully's work is among at least nine works of public art in Longmont that were affected by the floods.
Lauren Greenfield, the Art in Public Places administrator for Longmont, has been working to assess the damage, and a preliminary estimate of the replacement and repair costs came to $14,800.
With some of the damaged artwork, it's just a matter of missing mulch at the base. But others are worse off.
A local favorite is "101 Faces," by Longmont sculptor Jerry Boyle. The work includes 101 sculpted faces installed along a stretch of the St. Vrain Greenway in the water, on bridges and in trees. Every face that was in the water is now gone.
A short bridge that is part of Tully's "Kestral's Way" was potentially compromised, and its repair could amount to the biggest single cost among all the damaged public art, Greenfield said.
The AIPP program recently arranged for selected local artists to paint a set of utility boxes, and one of those boxes, located at Roger's Grove and assigned to artist Susanna Nelson, evidently was under water during the flood.
"It was obvious that it had debris running on top of it, so it's just scratched up," Greenfield said. "(Nelson) literally finished the day before the waters came in."
Though Greenfield is tallying the cost of damage, she's not yet sure where the money for repairs will come from. The city has many essential repairs related to basic services that naturally take precedence over public art. If money came from the city budget, which department would it come from? This year or next year? Is federal money available? These are questions Greenfield is still trying to find answers to.
Late last week, Boyle drove down to the river to inspect his "101 Faces." He determined that 14 faces were gone, some of them likely buried under churned up earth (six were already in need of repair because of vandalism).
When Boyle looked out east at the river on a footbridge adjacent to U.S. 287 near Tanaka's Roadside Market, he saw a landscape that was different than the one that existed when he installed "101 Faces" in 2004.
"The topography of the land has moved," he said. Below the bridge a sidewalk was still largely submerged.
"The devastation out here I didn't realize is so stark," he said.
The faces could be recast -- Boyle still has the molds. But, again, the source of funds for such a repair is in question.
Boyle plans to lead a public tour of the faces at 5 p.m. Nov. 15 at Left Hand Creek Park. The tour was scheduled before the flood, and the majority of the faces are still intact.
Left Hand Creek Park, near Pike Road and South Sunset Street, is home to "Picnic in Lefthand Park," a playful sculpture by Robert Ressler that features two giant ants sharing a meal. The larger of the two, a red one, had been swept off its foundation during the flood and carried "a considerable way" downstream, according to Greenfield. She found the work leaning against a tree during an initial tour of affected public art. But sometime in the following days, someone hauled it back. Greenfield doesn't know who did it, but she has a hunch it was neighbors. And she presumes it took about four people.
"He's pretty heavy," she said of the ant. "That's pretty far to move him."
But the gesture didn't surprise her.
"People love the ants," she said, "and people want to see him in his home with his friend eating a picnic."
Quentin Young can be reached at 303-684-5319 or email@example.com.