Noland, 61, is a native of Montrose and a lifelong local resident with a passion for wildlife sculpture – a natural outcome of a life spent outdoors.
“Art is different for different people,” he said. “I think I have done it because of my love for wildlife. I have hunted and fished and done taxidermy, and my sculpture is just a way to create memories. It is a way to recreate what you have seen – or what you have not seen but would like to see.”
Noland moved from Montrose to Ridgway when he was young to work on a ranch. He began sculpting in 1992 and now specializes in bronze wildlife pieces. Noland said he was “very pleased” to have his sculpture “Takin’ a Break” purchased by MAC on behalf of the city. The sculpture depicts a bear at rest and is on display in prime territory at the corner of Main Street and Uncompahgre.
“I hope people enjoy it!” he said.
The purchase was possible thanks to the vision of former Montrose resident and attorney Harrison Loesch. Over a decade ago, Loesch bequeathed a generous amount of money to the Montrose Arts Council, which was used to purchase “Takin’ a Break” as well as “The Way of the Pipe” by Montrose sculptor Julie Larusson.
“Harrison was a very fine community person,” MAC President Tricia Dickinson said. “He spent much of his career as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, after which he retired to Montrose. He was also a Rotarian. When he died, he left $5,000 to the Montrose Arts Council, of which his wife was a founding member.”
The two sculptures were among several on loan this year to the city through the Montrose Public Art Experience.
“We wanted to keep those two pieces in town and give this gift to the Montrose community,” Dickinson said. “This is visible support from the Montrose Arts Council to our city.”
For Larusson, who over the course of a year sculpted “The Way of the Pipe,” creating art to share with others is just one more way of enjoying life.
The artist, who spends half of each year in Montrose and the other half in Arizona, has had ties to this region since the early 1970s. Larusson began her career as a sculptor in 1993.
“I live at the clay studio in the winter,” she said recently. “I teach workshops, and I show my work in several galleries. I am also a kayaker and a fiddler, and I play in four different fiddle groups.”
A self-described people-person, Larusson, 72, said there is no great philosophy behind her work.
“I do it because it’s fun,” she said. “I like to have fun, and I love to be busy. I am very pleased that the city chose my piece.”
The two sculptures will remain in their current locations through the rest of the year, after which officials will discuss permanent locations. The purchase by MAC marks the first time a work of art has been acquired by an outside entity as a gift for the City of Montrose.
Modeled after Grand Junction’s popular Art on the Corner program, 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.