Clio Logo
YMCA of the Rockies: Art and Nature Inspire! Public Art Walking Tour
Item 6 of 8
This is a contributing entry for YMCA of the Rockies: Art and Nature Inspire! Public Art Walking Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
The Opa Statue was created by sculptor Ann LaRose in 2000 to honor the life of Dr. Irvin “Irv” Smith. He is depicted here with one of his grandsons who called him "Opa." Dr. Smith and his family loved to visit YMCA of the Rockies and the Rocky Mountains. The sculpture faces Rocky Mountain National Park and the Mummy Range. Dr. Smith’s wife, Rosemary, commissioned the sculpture and the piece was dedicated and presented to the YMCA of the Rockies in 2001. What are they looking at? How can you tell by looking at the sculpture? How would the sculpture be different if it was placed somewhere else, for example inside a building? What are some details that show texture in the piece? What other details do you notice that help you imagine what it might be like to take a walk in nature?

Opa Statue

This bronze statue shows two figures. One is a man wearing a backpack, raising his right arm to point at something in the distance. The second figure is a young boy sitting on a rock next to the man with a map and compass on his lap. The boy watches the man as though they are having a conversation.

The two figures depicted in the sculpture are Dr. Smith and his grandson Colin. You can see that they are both wearing backpacks and have a compass to help guide them on their next adventure. Dr. Smith loved exploration of any kind, whether it was in nature or in life. He was a research scientist who had a prominent role in developing a drug for the treatment of MS. Artist Ann LaRose has captured his adventurous nature in the positioning of this piece.

Ann LaRose, an Oklahoma-raised sculptor who lives in Arizona, draws a lot of inspiration from children and animals, and frequently uses live models to create her pieces. She undertakes careful research when making a new piece. She seeks to learn the back story of the person she is representing. She wants to know how the person stood or what kind of clothes they wore. Attention is given to the subtle details that many people might not notice right away, but it's those details that really bring life to a piece of art, allowing viewers to better understand the story behind it. LaRose will even find samples of the same type of fabric or the exact piece of clothing to look at how they move on the body in person.

In an article for a Kansas newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, she shared how she can work from photographs but prefers to find the exact piece of clothing she needs for a sculpture. "How cloth drapes has a lot to do with how something looks. You can't see that, really, in a photo."

How does her study of fabric affect the appearance of her art?

Suellentrop, Paul. Stallworth sculptor researches the look of 1965 Wichita State basketball, The Wichita Eagle. Accessed September 27th 2020.

Lloyd-D'Onofrio, Karen. Opa, Accessed September 19th 2020.