Little could Wynn Earl Buzzell, Jr., have known, when he was studying biology and chemistry at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, that, in a few short years, his art work would be displayed in five locations in a small mountain town in the Colorado High Country.
“I have always considered myself a creative person,” Buzzell says, “but being an artist was not on my radar when I was an undergrad.”
That began to change a bit when he switched academic gears while working on his master’s degree in architecture at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
After graduation, Buzzell got a gig with an architectural firm in his native Tarheel State.
“It was a big firm that specialized in commercial projects,” he says. “I wasn’t super satisfied with the work, so I started looking for an architectural job that was less traditional. A lot of my schoolwork was less traditional, less stringent.”
In 2014, Buzzell was hired by Demiurge, a Denver-based company that describes itself as “a design and fabrication collaborative consisting of a passionate group of people with backgrounds in fine art, sculpture, architecture, fabrication, contracting, carpentry and life sciences. Our diverse backgrounds and variety of experiences bring a uniquely holistic and creative point of view to our projects. In the end, our projects are works of art and we treat them with the level of detail and care that is appropriate.”
Demiurge projects have included “With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress),” commissioned by the Aspen Art Museum; “Plume #04,” commissioned by Fort Lewis College in Durango; and “Iridescent Cloud,” commissioned by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
“I was hired to work more on sculptures, on the artistic end,” Buzzell says. “It was a nice change from commercial buildings.”
Buzzell does not remember exactly how his Motio project, which has been on display in Basalt since June 2017, first got started because those negotiations were conducted primarily by his employers at Demiurge. But he does vividly remember being awarded the commission by the Denver Art Museum to construct Motio.
“They wanted the piece in front of the museum for a year,” he says. “There were a bunch of interviews. It took three to four months to construct Motio. There was a lot of back and forth during through the refinement process. It was a great experience.”
Motio was placed in Martin Plaza as part of the Denver Art Museum’s summer 2016 exhibition.
The piece is described by Demiurge as consisting of “many abstracted individual human figures physically and figuratively connected into a unified group.”
The commission with the Denver Art Museum was for one year, after which Motio’s future was in doubt. It every well might have been disassembled were it not for a statewide request for proposal by the Basalt Public Arts Commission (BPAC), which was looking for a sculpture to place somewhere in town.
“We were looking for a second life for Motio,” Buzzell says. “BPAC had just been formed and they were looking for a piece to display in Basalt. We came up with the idea of dividing it into five pieces and spreading them around town. There were three finalists and BPAC chose us.”
In addition to being sectioned out, Motio’s second incarnation, dubbed “Motio-2.0” — which is actually owned by Demiurge — needed a new narrative.
This is what Demiurge came up with: “The sections are symbolic of the hierarchies of human connections which compose the town, each of which is built from many individuals. The separation of these once-unified parts into unique sections is meant to serve as a spine that metaphorically connects the town. It is a reminder that everyone who calls Basalt home regardless of residence or affiliation is part of the same community.”
OK, that ranks pretty high on the Richter Scale of Borderline Snobbish Artistic Ambiguity, but Demiurge’s copy writer could have done a lot worse, given the requisite revisionist history.
“It did not require a lot of fabrication work to take it apart,” Buzzell says. “We needed some additional hardware and some finish work on the ends, but it was fairly easy.”
According to Buzzell, it would be equally easy to put Motio-2.0 back together if negotiations with BPAC can reach a mutually beneficial resolution.
“I’m super excited to consider Motio’s next chapter,” he says. “I don’t want to see it in the scrap yard. Put back together, it would be 100 feet long. It would be a great conclusion to Motio’s journey.”
In the meantime, Buzzell is busy with as many as five other projects.