Project posted by Arch11

Wingren Studio

Sculptor Jerry Wingren at work in his studio
Sculptor Jerry Wingren at work in his studio


Posted by
Larry Sykes

From Arch11

Boulder abstract sculptor Jerry Wingren lost a lifetime of work in Colorado’s Fourmile Canyon Fire. But a community of local artists and architects, including Arch11, helped him rebuild to renew his life’s work.
Arch11’s design for his new studio, on the footprint of his old studio and with vistas out to the Continental Divide along with a rooftop sculpture garden, was inspired by Wingren’s subtractive and folded works.

The Fourmile Canyon Fire of 2010 destroyed more homes than any wildfire to that point in Colorado history and Jerry Wingren’s studio was one of the casualties. A lifetime of sculptures, his library and many tools disappeared in a cloud of smoke that could be seen from space. Just two days after the fire, Boulder/ Denver architecture firm Arch11 promised to help Wingren recover his studio space, while other friends―including many former apprentices―ultimately pitched in to help build it.

The 78-year old conceptual artist grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska—a town whose population was divided between Norwegian immigrants and Tlingit natives. The influence of the indigenous art forms, notably carved wood totems, would influence his work many years later, but it was during a Fulbright Fellowship in the early 1960’s to Germany that he solidified his love for sculpture, apprenticing with two master stone sculptors, Otto Almstadt and Moritz Bohrmann.

Wingren’s work is also inspired by the Japanese art form of origami that he realizes in folded steel instead of paper. The essense of MA (the Japanese character translated as “pause” or “gap”) also figures centrally in his work as the play between positive and negative space. He has exhibited widely in the U.S. and Europe in private galleries and art museums and his work is held in private and public collections around the world.

In the reconstruction of Wingren’s studio, Arch11 conceived it as a retaining wall, like the artist’s sculptures, to offer some resistance to the site. The form takes cues from the folds found in much of Wingren’s work. A workshop downstairs opens to the south and west to an outdoor studio where he can work throughout the day and through the seasons. Inside, twelve-foot high ceilings accommodate tall works and a gantry crane to move materials. The upstairs houses a gallery, rooftop sculpture garden and office with expansive views of the surrounding hillsides including Sugarloaf Mountain. The studio’s exterior is finished in smooth, cementitious stucco that offers a monolithic quality similar to much of Wingren’s work.

The fiery wake of the Fourmile Canyon fire charred Wingren’s studio and left granite sculptures crumbled and reduced to puddles of molten glass. His new studio is a work in progress—not unlike Wingren and his sculptures—but now it’s fire resistant and the space has given the artist a renewed raison d’etre.