Another chapter has been written in the continuing saga of the Arc of History, the controversial public art piece at the intersection of U.S. highways 160 and 550.
The two mini-Arcs of History, also dubbed the Arcs of Styrofoam, that appeared at the end of February have disappeared, but at nearly a month, their residency far outstripped the iconic dinosaur head and festive dragon head, which only remained in situ for a few days before being stolen or taken down.
The million-dollar question is, “Where did the mini-Arcs go?”
Part of the mystery was solved late Friday afternoon when one was spotted on the front lawn of Mr. and Mrs. Action Line, also known as Mike Smedley and Amy Wendland, in East Animas City.
“I have plausible deniability because I’m 400 miles away,” Smedley said from his vacation in Salt Lake City, when he finally stopped laughing after hearing the news. “It’s the expansion of public art into the private sector, and I welcome it with open arms.”
Smedley writes a weekly column called Action Line for The Durango Herald.
Wendland, an art professor at Fort Lewis College, recalled seeing the statues at the intersection as they drove out of town, saying she thought they made the Arc better.
“But our housesitter didn’t send us an email or anything,” she said about the one showing up in her yard. “Maybe he didn’t notice yet.”
As she thought about it, she began to wonder if her art students might have made them, or at the very least have had a hand in moving one to her yard.
“No, it’s about me and Action Line,” Smedley said in the background before taking the phone back. He wrote several popular, humorous columns about the kerfuffle. “I think I am the appropriate steward for a piece of public art, or maybe more like a foster parent, because ‘it takes a village’ as Arcs of History grow up.”
Phone calls to city of Durango spokeswoman Sherri Dugdale and Durango Police Department spokesman Lt. Ray Shupe were not returned by 9:30 p.m. Friday. Cpl. Nick Stasi with the DPD, when contacted Saturday, was unfamiliar with the mystery. Nancy Shanks, spokeswoman for Region 5 of the Colorado Department of Transportation, disavowed any knowledge about the mini-arcs.
Many people drive by the Smedley/Wendland home to check out their yard in the spring because Smedley, a bulb enthusiast, has planted at least 10,000 bulbs for croci, daffodils, tulips and lilies. The sculpture may add one more reason for drive-bys, he said.
“Just as long as it doesn’t end up in an evidence locker because it’s definitely better in my yard,” Smedley said. “But I’m not going to pay $5,000 for it, like Jerry Zink did for the dino head.”
Shall we call it the Arc of Smedley? And what became of the other mini-Arc? That conundrum remains to be solved.