Way Back When: Art on the Corner

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—Nine of the original 11 artists who exhibited their work on Main Street for the first Art on the Corner installment, from left: David M. Davis, George Turner, William Morrow, Larry Runner, Harlan Mosher, Charles Hardy, David N. Berry, Michael Smedley and Gary Urban.


There’s a short list of some of the things that put Grand Junction on the map — agriculture, oil shale, uranium, Operation Foresight, our health care system and, perhaps most pleasantly, Art on the Corner.

Thirty years ago, artist Dave Davis had a great idea, an idea that he knew would revitalize a depressed downtown Grand Junction, and an idea that would become a model for other towns and cities across the nation. Davis, along with 10 other artists, mostly with Grand Valley connections, installed 26 sculptures at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5, 1984. The following winter, they displayed more of their work at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts in an exhibit titled, “Art on the Corner in the Corner.” 

Where are those artists now?

Left to right in the photo, we have Dave M. Davis, founder of the project. He still shows and sells work from his studio on 33 Road. He creates in several mediums, and if you want to see what he’s up to, look him up on Facebook.

George Turner is in Grand Junction and has public art pieces displayed at Colorado Mesa University and the University of Colorado Denver.

William S. Morrow lives in Carbondale. He’s currently working on a public art commission in New Castle and mentors new sculptors. He remembered the two in the morning installation.

“My daughter was with me and on roller skates going up and down the deserted Main Street. We finished that next afternoon.” Morrow’s “Locomotivation” was a favorite, sitting on the corner of Third and Main.

Larry Runner taught sculpture at Mesa College and Western State College. Morrow said Runner died from diabetes complications in the late 1980s.

Harlan L. Mosher is still quite productive, having created the gateway monoliths at the 24 Road roundabouts. One of the first original Art on the Corner sculptures, “First Flight,” is privately owned by Redlands Water and Power. Mosher’s “End of the Line” is installed at Fourth and Main.

Charles Hardy, retired professor of art at Colorado Mesa University, currently prefers drawing and pastels, and his work is in several galleries.

David N. Berry, owner of Iron Works, used his foundry to produce more than 30 pedestals that are still in use today. Berry was also one of the first artists chosen for the city’s 1 Percent for the Arts Program. He still has a studio near The Daily Sentinel. Berry recalls the entire project as a learning experience for all the young artists.

Michael Smedley, a gifted musician and sculptor, has died.

Gary Urban is in town and owns Hi River Construction. Davis tells me Urban is thinking about resurrecting his artistic bent.

Davis shared a list of the original donors. Dave and Anne Brach bought one of the first pieces. Herb and Laura May Bacon, Shari Raso and the Quincy Bar were supporters. Jim Kennedy, then publisher of the Daily Sentinel, gave Art on the Corner abundant publicity. Bill and Darlyne Merkel still support the arts. Davis went door-to-door downtown. Harry Benge loved the idea and immediately wrote him a check, and his son Bruce is still on the Art on the Corner committee. Even old Jasper Fuoco at Champion Boots & Saddlery gave him $50.

This list goes on. And so does the community’s support for the project.

Davis admits, “It wasn’t me who kept it going all these years, it was the city, the downtown businesses, the volunteers and the artists.” Long live Art on the Corner.


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