It's All a Matter of Perspective

As most of you know, The Hanzon Foundation has been in a bit of a battle. Lonnie Hanzon has been forced to defend the integrity and future of his most famous local artwork, Evolution of the Ball.

Click here to read the recent Westword article.

This struggle has highlighted a variety of interesting discussions. What are the rights of a public art artist? Who truly owns a work of art? How do we want public spaces to be? Is progress always best?

Personally, while going through the archives of Evolution of the Ball, I have been reminded of the excitement that surrounded the building of Coors Field. Even if you weren’t a baseball fan, the creation of the stadium completely changed lower downtown and made it a place to be, rather than a scary place to avoid. We felt united in that enthusiasm and for many of us, the public art that was designed for the stadium was the cherry on top of a new delicious sundae. It was the combination of a sports loving town with an arts loving public.

So what has changed? Well, we could blame it on the simple fact that needs, desires, and tastes are constantly in flux and always have been. Our perspectives are constantly evolving. For example, did you know that many people truly hated the Eiffel Tower when it was built? The thought it looked unfinished, and the skeletal and structural aspect we now find iconic, was completely ridiculed. Did you also know that it was originally painted red and may be painted its original color once more? How does that change your perception and feelings about one of the most famous public monuments in the world?  

I came across a letter in the archives that really struck me and brought this changing of perspective to the forefront of my mind. It was a recommendation letter from Thomas J. Gleason for Lonnie Hanzon.  Gleason was the former deputy director of the Denver Metropolitan Stadium District. He states how he was originally concerned about the choice of Lonnie’s sculpture for one of the main entrances to Coors Field; his reason being that fans may have expected something more traditional.  He claims, “To my delight, and to their credit, those baseball fans quickly demonstrated an appreciation for the whimsical element that sculpture added to the Coors Field experience.” He goes on to call it a “magnet” for people all year round. What an incredible example of someone changing their own perspective and seeing through other peoples’ eyes.

Throughout this battle, I have continued to hope that the people in charge of the new development, the Stadium District, and the Rockies would go through a similar transformation. That they would learn about what is at the heart of Evolution of the Ball and the intricate, thoughtful, symbolic design behind every element. Do they know that there are time capsules held within each ball? Have they seen the personal letter from Lucy Arnaz giving permission for her mother’s likeness on the piece? Would that change their perspective and let them see the value of the public sculpture?

As a teacher, one of my favorite moments was when I could watch a student’s thoughts about a work of art change before my eyes. One example is a work by Piet Mondrian. When I first show it to students, they would typically recognize the Mondrian style of primary colors and straight lines.  Many would exclaim how they found this art simplistic and simply “didn’t get it” or any other abstract art. But when I told them the title, Broadway Boogie-Woogie, you could watch the change in their eyes. You could literally see their mind turn those little yellow squares into taxi cabs and their perspective become one of a bird or plane flying high over Manhattan looking down at the bustling streets.

We are still hoping for a change in perspective and for an opening of hearts and minds with Evolution of the Ball. The Foundation will keep you updated on all events via Facebook, this website, and now on Instagram.

Thanks so much to all of you that have aided us in this fight. We are extremely grateful for the donations, Facebook posts, and recommendations.

 

Shanda Plock

Director of The Hanzon Foundation

 

 Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1943

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1943

The Power of Art

It has been an exciting month for The Hanzon Foundation.  We successfully fundraised for the outstanding public artwork, Equal Threshold - a thoughtful, compelling, and timely work at Denver Pridefest.  And we awarded Monica Rocha with the Foundation award at the Trash Fashion Show on June 9th.  Both were incredible events and I was extremely proud to represent the Foundation as a judge at the Trash Fashion Show.  More fun than one can describe in one Blog!!

For more about Equal Threshold and Trash Fashion Show - Click Here.

Thinking about these events, I was once again struck by the power of art and the ability of artists to draw us in as viewers and participants into a dialogue. I taught Art History for 10 years and one story I told my students every new semester was the tale of my first truly engaged experience with art.  I grew up with an art teacher for a Dad so I visited many museums in many cities but my first true memory of being drawn in mind, body, and soul was when I first saw Alexander Calder’s Circus in New York.  If you don’t know the piece, it is a collection of wire, scraps, and found objects melded into a whimsical amazing circus with parts that can be moved to perform individual acts.  Of course the subject matter drew me in as a child, but what really stuck with me was the possibility that art could be anything!  Art could be made out of things from your junk drawer and art can make you smile as well as make you think. 

This all came back to me while I was judging the Trash Fashion Show.  The use of recycled materials, the innovation, the energy, and at times the humor, drew all of us in the audience in. We were amazed by the possibilities!  Surprised how things we consider junk and trash could become beautiful works of art and fashion.  I will never look at a lawn chair, old vhs tapes, or window screens the same way again. Art of any kind, should expand our vision, should delight us, and should make us think, even if we are giggling at a man's bottom seen through the remnants of a plastic lawn chair.  

As an art historian, I began to compare images of Calder’s Circus, to drawings by Lonnie Hanzon. I was struck by the similarity between the way Calder formulates figures with wire and Lonnie Hanzon draws.  The strong, bold lines that undulate and guide our eye around the work and the page are extremely similar which, let’s admit, is funny and surprising.  Comparing a defined, abstract minimalist to the supreme self-proclaimed maximalist seems somewhat absurd.  But the similarities in technique, motivation, sense of humor, and ability to draw us in are there just the same. No wonder both artists are two of my favorites!  You can see some examples of what I mean below.

A huge thank you to everyone that donated to The Hanzon Foundation and participated in this exciting month.  We simply couldn't do it without you!

Shanda Plock

Public Art – A Present for Someone You Have Never Met

As many of you know, if you hang around Lonnie Hanzon long enough you will come away with some wonderful quotes!  One of my favorite is a statement he gave in an interview about his public art work Lakewood Legacy Trees. He equated designing public art to creating a present for someone you have never met. This quote has always stuck with me and it remains at the essence of public art in general and all of Lonnie’s work.  

This month we announce Lonnie’s newest pro-bono public art work, Equal Threshold. This will be a temporary work at Denver PrideFest in June on the 16th & 17th. This is the fourth year that Lonnie and Hanzon Studios have built and created a large scale public work for PrideFest and the purpose behind each piece says a lot about where we are as a country, the status of GLBTQ rights, and the type of “gift” that is produced.

Equal Threshold will not only be visually captivating, it will require intellectual and physical audience participation involving the choosing of doors and a literal step across the thresholds. Participants will become part of the story, joining together in a center space. The concept behind the piece derives from the 1964 Civil Rights Act which is contemporarily connected to the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights CommissionLike Equality Cake, a timely issue drives the choice of art and theme. This leads to another of my favorite Lonnie quotes regarding how an inequality in marriage lead to an inequality in cake. While we all know it isn’t just about cake, cake does hold symbolic value for some of the biggest events in our lives – birthdays, graduations, and marriage -  and it is that shared history of celebration that should be equal for all people.

We are currently raising money for the production of Equal Threshold.

You can make a donation under Membership & Donation, One Time Gift, or if you become a Member your money will also go to the project. Checks can be mailed to The Hanzon Foundation at 1585 Glen Bar Drive, Lakewood, CO 80215.

We have some other big events to tell you about in June:

Trash Fashion Show                   Saturday, June 9th 6-9 pm

www.trashfashionshow.com

Lonnie will be speaking at the Outspoken Speaker series.

Outspoken Speaker Series           Tuesday, June 5th 7:00 pm           

https://glbtcolorado.org/outspoken-speaker-series/

A huge thanks to all of you that have become members and donated to our Foundation.  Your generosity has made the lauch of The Hanzon Foundation a success!

Shanda Plock

 

A Journey...

Hello and Welcome to The Hanzon Foundation website! We are thrilled to launch our Foundation and we thank you for joining us on this journey.  As the Director of The Hanzon Foundation, I will be posting a monthly blog which will highlight any news or updates about the Foundation.

Recently, I was sitting with Lonnie and Terry and we were reading cards written by members of the Slater Elementary Art Club. I had displayed some pieces From the Chest series at Slater as well as information about Lonnie, Hanzon Studios, and his local public art pieces. Then I gave a presentation at an Art Club meeting where we looked at more of Lonnie's art, watched a short video, and attempted to draw using our left or non-dominant hands and our eyes closed - the same way Lonnie began the images you can see in the From the Chest series. Once we finished, the students were able to write cards to Lonnie, asking questions and commenting on his art. Overall it was a fun, challenging, and exciting experience and one which we hope to bring to other local schools as part of our educational outreach.
Many of the students asked about how Lonnie was able to draw with his opposite hand and where his ideas for his art come from.  One student hoped that Lonnie could decorate his Mom's car and another asked what it was like to be famous! Watching these students explore Lonnie's art and learn about him as an artist reminded me that art is one of the greatest communicators. Each student, in a small window of time, felt the joy of seeing imagery that spurred their imaginations, experienced the emotion of color and line, suffered the struggle of trying something new, and because of art, felt a connection to someone they had never met. When I returned at a later date with Lonnie's replies, the students were ecstatic to receive an answer to their questions and to have something so special, just for them.  
We hope that The Foundation will always bring that amount of joy into the world. Through our outreach and future projects, we strive to communicate, educate, and share the lessons learned by Lonnie and Terry. I have been lucky enough to be a lifelong spectator of Lonnie's creativity, he and Terry's wonderful relationship, and the legacy they hope to leave behind. This is really the foundation of the Foundation! Every epic journey begins somewhere and I am excited to see what path lays before us.
Shanda Plock
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Lonnie the clown & me the birthday girl!

June 3, 1975