According to the Tikkun Daily Blog, “when artist Jeff Gipe talks about his sculpture ‘Cold War Horse ‘ — a renegade art piece he created to protest the construction of a toll road and housing development near the former plutonium plant and Superfund site, Rocky Flats — it sounds as though he’s reading from the pages of a John Grisham novel.”
He grew up near Rocky Flats, and his dad worked there for twenty years and died from Parkinson’s disease that he attributed to exposures to toxic elements from the site.
When he was a boy, the Rocky Flats plant, which ultimately produced 70,000 plutonium pits, was a “sort of ominous, mysterious place.”
An early memory is going with his dad to work on a ‘take your kid to work,’ day. He said in his interview with Tikkun Daily Blog that “there were tanks rolling around, armed guards everywhere. All this stuff was a complete shock to me. I just remember partially being terrified but also really intrigued too.”
He grew up to become a remarkable artist, and much of his art reflects his Rocky Flats childhood.
He recently created the larger than life sculpture of a horse in a brilliant red hazmat suit to honor the thousands of previous Rocky Flats workers and to alert people to the dangers of leftover hot particles of plutonium blowing in the infamous winds of the Rocky Flats area over the homes that are being built to the south, and sold to eager but unwitting new home buyers.
The sculpture was placed across from the Candelas development (see candelasglows.com) on private land along highway 72. It was mounted on a thick cement slab. Two weeks after it was erected it was vandalized—probably chained to a truck, pulled over and smashed with sledge hammers.
Jeff intends to go ahead with a dedication for the horse on Oct. 18, even though the horse probably will not be repaired by then.(Exact time and place TBA)
Kristen Iversen, author of “Full Body Burden, Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats,” is planning to speak at the dedication, as well as Dr. LeRoy Moore of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and former FBI agent Jon Lipsky, who led the raid on Rocky Flats which ultimately led to its closure as a plutonium pit facility.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.