Park Hill artist Reven Swanson offers levity through heavy metal
By Erin Vanderberg/Editor
A few years back, a colorful sculpture cropped up on the corner of
23rd and Kearney, planted in the same spot where a garage signpost once
The artist, Reven Swanson, wanted only for Dancing Moon Spinning to
be enjoyed by the neighborhood she lived in, and saw opportunity in that
void of the Art Garage parking lot.
“This was my opportunity to add to the wonderful efforts of the Art
Garage,” said Swanson. “Barb (McKee) is doing a wonderful thing,
bringing art classes to the community. I don’t have time to give
classes, so this is my way of giving back. It brought some culture to
Not everyone has discovered that the sculpture actually moves. But
those who have can’t seem to get enough of it. Take, for example, Sam
and Alex Shikiar. According to their mom, Dell, all the boys want to do
when they come to Kearney street is to play on the sculpture.
Reven Swanson created the sculpture in her Park Hill art studio on
Dexter Street. It is mounted on a 1983 Chrysler LeBaron hub and weighs
about 400 pounds. (Contributed Photo/Reven Swanson)For
Swanson, who has sculpted metal for nearly 30 years and requires
spreadsheets to keep straight which sculptures are where and on what
terms, satisfaction is derived from having the art out in the open air
to be enjoyed by the public and moved by the wind.
“The reason I do these public art installations, rather than pushing
to be in galleries and museums, is because 90 percent of the people who
see that work on the corner might have never seen it if it were in a
gallery,” said Swanson.
Armed with a special toolbox, Swanson can yank the parts she needs
for a sculpture – in the case of Dancing Moon Spinning, a 1983 Chrysler
LeBaron hub – in ten minutes time.
“The part is designed to go around a corner, at speed, with a car on
it, so it makes a great hub for sitting pieces,” said Swanson.
She also has two trucks for hauling metal, a diesel truck rated for
12,000 pounds and a pickup. “It’s not as easy moving a sculpture as it
is a painting,” she said. She measures weight in how many people it
takes to move a sculpture. For Dancing Moon Spinning, it was four people
– 400 pounds.
Swanson grew up in Denver, graduating from the University of Colorado
at Boulder with a degree in journalism. She worked in advertising and
newspaper production out of college, evolving into a graphic designer as
the field was emerging. But her passion was always fine art, and so she
embarked on a self-guided “Masters program” as an artist’s apprentice
in Italy. Before she quit the “W2 earning” for good, she bought her
house on Dexter in the early 1990s.
The property itself is evidence of her gift. She turned a rundown
property into an urban oasis, doing nearly all the work herself, while
planting a garden from seed as she went. A visit with her today will
have you clucking at her beloved chickens and tasting her preserves
while marveling at the tools of her trade in her indoor and outdoor art
studios. Everything touched with art.
Online at: revenswanson.com.