MONTROSE – Carl Michael Short had been sculpting statues of cowboys and Native Americans, without much success. It took “Alex, the Human cannonball,” to help him find his way.
Short created his first “daredevil” piece as a small, coffee table-sized sculpture – with big impact.
“I noticed that everyone from little kids right on up to senior citizens loved it,” said Short, 61, who spent more than 40 years in Silt before moving to Cedaredge with his wife Lee-Ann five years ago. “That was the moment I changed directions with my art – people kept telling me that I had to do the Human Cannonball in a bigger piece.”
Friends and fans of Short’s sculptures also insisted that his style was better suited to public art than private collections, he added.
Today, two of Short’s bronze works are on display in downtown Montrose as part of the Montrose Public Art eXperience (PAX). Short’s “Tug of War,” which the artist has donated to the City of Montrose, is on display near the Bank of the West building at Cascade and Main.
Short also has a sculpture on loan to the City of Montrose, a full-sized bronze of “Alex the Human Cannonball,” which adds a touch of whimsy and excitement to the lawn near the courthouse on South First Street.
It is a sculpture that has captured hearts, and sparked discussions.
And it was born entirely from the artist’s vivid imagination.
“I didn’t know anything about (human cannonballs),” Short explained. “But I knew they existed, and I learned a little about ’em. I had no model or anything to go by, I just did it.”
Short spent around six months on the larger version of “Alex,” the first in a series of works inspired by daredevils of various types.
Other pieces in the artist’s daredevil collection include “Vincent the Sword Swallower,” “Andre the Gator Wrestler,” “Tiger by the Tail,” and “Oscar the Weight Lifter.” Photos of these and other works can be viewed at the artist’s website, www.shortartworks.com.
Sculptures that are created and displayed for public viewing have a far greater impact than some might think, Short noted.
“We have a tendency to think of things (like PAX) as local,” he stated. “But people come here from all over. The day after we installed the ‘Human Cannonball,’ I saw a young woman standing there taking pictures of it. I walked up and spoke to her, and she had a really thick accent. I asked her where she was from, and she said the Czech Republic.
“Those photos were going across the ocean!” Short said. “I love the Western Slope – but this made me realize that art is not just local.
“I am really tickled to have the ‘Human Cannonball’ in front of the courthouse,” he added. “It gets seen by everybody.”
The Montrose Public Art eXperience aims to create a more pleasing visual environment, expand opportunities to experience quality works of art and facilitate the development, acquisition and display of art in Montrose’s public spaces.
PAX is a joint project of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce, the City of Montrose and the PAX Steering Committee. Sponsors for 2008 include Montrose Chamber of Commerce, The City of Montrose, Montrose Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tower Realty, Four Seasons Investment Advisors, Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning, and the Montrose Daily Press. For more information call the Montrose Chamber of Commerce at 249-5000.