Walk, bicycle or drive along Main Street in downtown Littleton, and you can see 12 “Wagon Wheels” and 12 “Mountains and Peaks.” Created of steel and bronze, they are new sculptures designed to serve as bike racks, commissioned by Littleton’s Fine Arts Board and bolted in place on May 4.
Funds for the works came through a donation from John Brackney and Brian Vogt — proceeds from the “Haunted Littleton” walking tours the two conducted each Halloween season for a number of years. They have wanted to donate to a downtown Littleton project.
The Littleton Fine Art Board posted a call to artists on Café, an online program used to advertise calls for artists and entry forms to shows. Several responses included those from Kim Kaminsky of Littleton and Montrose artist Caleb Kullman, who were present May 4 to unveil sample pieces at the west end of Main Street.
Kullman’s is in front of Bradford Auto Body and Kaminsky’s is at the newly finished Market Place across the street. Both are fabricated in a kind of steel that will weather well to a rust-colored patina. Others are on both sides of Main Street.
Polished bronze relief plates are in the center of each Wagon Wheel. They have one of two images: “Littleton Today” shows a festive Western Welcome Week on Main Street, with the old Carnegie Library (Melting Pot). “Littleton Past,” with an agricultural motif, includes wheat, fields, train tracks and the old depot.
The wheels were cast in sand molds, then cleaned, polished and welded together. The bronze plates were hand-sculpted and cast in bronze, using the lost wax process, then attached to the wheels, which are bolted to the concrete.
Kaminsky, who lives in Littleton with her husband and two daughters, grew up in Chicago and started her interest in art early. She has a BFA in art from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and an MFA from Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts. The family moved to Littleton in 2008, where she was able to build a light, airy studio in her back yard — a place to work and to hold children’s art classes.
Caleb Kullman graduated from Reed College in Oregon with a degree in anthropology, where he was first exposed to blacksmithing. He says he learned to think independently at Reed and have confidence in his ability to teach himself new things.
He next learned the craft of farriery — horseshoeing — in Tucumcari, N.M., and began a practice, which paid living expenses while he increased his skill with iron. In New Mexico, he attended Frank Turley’s basic blacksmithing class in Santa Fe and visited the studio of Tom Joyce, where he saw beautifully crafted iron pieces.
A Fulbright scholarship in 2002 led him to study with Yoruba blacksmiths in Nigeria for eight months, followed by classes at Penland School of Crafts and Haystack School of Crafts.
In 2006, he moved to Montrose, where he has a downtown studio with three forging stations, modern fabricating equipment and machine tools. He says he uses traditional techniques to create pieces for today’s architecture.
Fine Arts Board members are appointed by the Littleton City Council and are volunteers. Members are Jerry Clapsaddle, Jim Dickson, Kathleen Eckel, Kelly Strohman, Sarah Trujillo, Val Watson and Chairwoman Denise Weed. They represent all four council districts.