Over the past few weeks, preservation and restoration artist Barton Gunderson refurbished some of Rifle’s most iconic statues, a project Parks and Recreation Director Tom Whitmore was eager to get done.
“We had been looking for someone to do it,” he explained. “Gunderson did the soldier, and it turned out so good that we decided we should fix the others.”
In fact, when stopping for gas in Rifle one day Gunderson noticed that the elk statue as he entered downtown Rifle, “Royal Descent,” needed some work and contacted the city. Whitmore could not have been happier.
“I really lucked out,” Gunderson said.
The entire project took him about a week and a half to complete, which included heating and waxing each sculpture, as he spent a full day at each statue. The cost of the restorations was $2,650.
“We’ll be looking for him to do it every year or two from now on,” Whitmore added. “Some of them had been out there for years and had not been restored.”
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The five statues restored included: the solider “Let Freedom Ring” at the Western Garfield County Veterans Memorial at Deerfield Park, the fish “Over the Rainbow” at Centennial Park, the bear “Catch & Release” at the civic plaza, “Royal Descent,” and the Mark Twain outside of the Rifle library. He also did restorations for the two statues outside of the Garfield County Fairgrounds as well.
Whitmore explained that is a project he had wanted to see done for some time because he doesn’t want to build anything new without first taking care of what Rifle already has.
“My feeling is that people won’t invest more into new things if we don’t take care of everything that we do have,” he said….
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