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Community News from the Heart of Summit County

Giant Guitar Sculpture a Fitting Backdrop to SPAC Stage

Published November 22, 2019
Robert Hickler Guitar
Robert Hickler Guitar

You might hear music playing when you’re in the vicinity of the outdoor stage at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center (SPAC) — but now you can also enjoy a visual tribute to the musical arts. 

The latest addition to the Town’s public art program, installed in late October, is an 11-foot-tall guitar sculpture by Colorado artist Robert Hickler, crafted from steel with a rust patina. 

“When you come to check out Robert’s guitar, be sure to look for the shadows cast by his intricate work,” suggests Joanne Cook, the Town’s director of recreation and culture. “At the right time of day, long twists and turns of shadow create a ghost guitar on the snow.”

From programming to artistic instinct

Robert started making art after retiring from a computer career that began in the technical field of operating system programming. At an art workshop in Lakewood, Colo., where he now lives, he began drawing on the computer, using Corel Draw. With a plasma cutter, he turned his drawings into reality. 

Also called a CNC (computer numeric control) cutter, the machine can cut sheets of steel up to 4 feet by 8 feet. A computer and mechanical mechanism move a plasma torch around to cut the steel.  

Today, he designs work that would be almost impossible to do any other way. With his plasma cutter, he can produce intricate, repetitive cuts in steel ranging from heavy sheets to 20-gauge steel that’s almost paper-thin. 

“It’s ironic — computer work was about getting the right answer. Either it worked or it didn’t,” Robert says. “With art, there’s no right or wrong, except on some instinctual level. You try a change and it works or it doesn’t.”

We think you’ll agree that he’s hit all the right notes with his beautiful guitar. 

About the artist

Robert Hickler grew up outside Boston and lived in several spots around the U.S. before settling in Denver in 1972. He and his wife raised their family in Colorado, and enjoyed skiing and owning a ski condo in Summit County for a while. He began working with metal when he joined a friend in some welding classes at Emily Griffith Technical College. For more than five years, he’s been creating steel sculptures that he’s shown in venues around the state, including Longmont, Fort Collins, and Lakewood. Learn more at rhsculpture.com

Robert was selected by the Town’s Art Selection Committee (ASC) on an art ‘field trip’ to the Denver area, where they saw his guitar at the Lakewood Cultural Center and felt it would be a great fit next to the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center outdoor stage. Find out more about the Town of Silverthorne’s public art program, including all the current exhibitions.

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