Hotchkiss students recycle bulldog mascot to win Aspen art competition

COURTESY PHOTO—Wesley Hardin, left, Jaden Simpson, center, and James LeValley are some of the Hotchkiss High School students who built the school mascot bulldog, Rufus, shown in the foreground, for an Aspen art gallery competition in the use of recycled or reused materials.

Five Hotchkiss High School students found a way to combine art, money and school pride.

Sophomores Wesley Hardin, Brendon Beck and Alex Smith, along with freshmen James Le-
Valley and Jaden Simpson, teamed up to sculpt a bulldog — the school mascot ­— as part of an Aspen art gallery’s competition to use recycled or reused materials.

The boys took first place — and $600 — in the Red Brick Center for the Arts competition by using old chicken wire to build Rufus, a bulldog that measured 7 1/2 feet long and 6 1/2 feet tall.

They competed in the high school division with other schools across Colorado.

“We looked around the school and saw nothing that symbolized the Hotchkiss bulldog,” Hardin said. “We had a sign but no mascot, so we decided to build a bulldog for the school. We had to do something.”

Rufus will be on display at the Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen through April 23 as part of the ECO ART Exhibition.

After the exhibit closes, Rufus will be moved to the high school.

The boys hauled Rufus over McClure Pass for judging in Aspen and will bring the bulldog back this month.

“The really cool part about this project is each of these guys found their own niche,” said Hotchkiss High School art teacher Jamie Roeber. “These guys really came together as a team to make it happen.”

The boys used a Chevrolet Silverado to haul three truckloads of chicken wire to the school to build Rufus after hours. They also welded horseshoes together to make the collar.

“They definitely learned a new appreciation of chicken wire,” Roeber joked.

The boys, who called themselves the Alpha Squad, put the sculpture together in pieces at the school.

Nearly 40 art students from Hotchkiss attended the awards ceremony in Aspen on Thursday, April 11, where the quintet was recognized for its winning sculpture.


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