Pikes Peak Community College Foundation acquires Art on the Streets sculpture

By Jen Mulson Updated: December 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm • Published: December 1, 2017 0
photo - The 11-foot, 800-pound Breathe sculpture by Joan Benefiel is lowered into its new home Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in the recently fnished Creative Commons at the Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Campus. The sculpture was purchased by the PPCC Foundation with support from the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges. Breathe was originally at Tejon and Moreno as part of the Art on the Streets program.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
The 11-foot, 800-pound Breathe sculpture by Joan Benefiel is lowered into its new home Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in the recently fnished Creative Commons at the Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Campus. The sculpture was purchased by the PPCC Foundation with support from the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges. Breathe was originally at Tejon and Moreno as part of the Art on the Streets program. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Downtown visitors are familiar with the luminous female sculpture that glows orange in the rays of a sinking sun.

"Breathe," an 800-pound, 11-foot-tall piece by New York-based artist Joan Benefiel, has decorated the northwest corner of Tejon Street and Moreno Avenue since being selected for this year's Art on the Streets downtown sculpture exhibit.

Now it has a new home - the courtyard of Pikes Peak Community College's Creative Commons at the Downtown Studio Campus. The sculpture was relocated Friday to its permanent spot at the corner of Sierra Madre and Bijou streets.

"It's so alive," said Lisa James, executive director of the school's foundation. "If you've seen it at sunset when it turns orange, it is extraordinary."

Benefiel's hand-tinted cast translucent resin sculpture was listed at $27,000. PPCC's purchase price was not disclosed.

The PPCC Foundation purchase was made possible through the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges as part of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Creative Commons Project, which is focused on the renovation of the visual arts of the downtown campus. A year ago PPCC received $1 million from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation to expand its arts programs, making it the largest cash gift the school has received from a private source. Sharpe was a local philanthropist who died at the age of 95 in 1985. Though not an artist, she was dedicated to helping struggling and younger artists.

"Breathe" is the first major sculpture on any PPCC campus.

"This was an opportunity to showcase the excellence of the studio-based visual arts program and to own our locations, not only as an entryway to downtown as you're coming off I-25, but also as the start of the creative corridor," James said. "We're at the northern end of that corridor which will go down to the U.S. Olympic Museum, and with activity and focus on civic life in downtown, this was the time to invest in this campus and to do something public and meaningful."

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