Denver's new public art piece is huge and was built to last 300 years

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DENVER — A new public art piece in Denver is gaining a lot of attention on the city’s west side.

It’s called, “La Veleta,” which means, “the weather vane” in Spanish. It’s located at the busy intersection of West Sixth Avenue and Federal Boulevard in Barnum Park.

The structure is huge: nearly 40 feet tall. La Veleta is a mosaic totem pole which features seven animal heads built with precious tile. Each animal is native to Colorado.

The animals include: a buffalo, snake, mountain lion, fox, ram, owl and bear.

“These animals represent the diverse cultures and people of Colorado and all of the histories that come with them. Despite the brutal nature of predators and prey, these native creatures live in harmony with each other coexisting within a bigger ecosystem where everything stays in balance…This totem pole serves as a gauge of our ability to survive ourselves. I think of it as a reminder of which way the wind is blowing,” Jaime Molina said in a statement.

Molina is the artist who came up with the concept for the piece. He collaborated with Tres Birds Workshop in Denver and started working on the structure in 2016.

“The actual installation of the tile for me, the application, took about 15 months,” said Molina.

Each mosaic animal head is roughly the same size.

“Each head is 4 feet by 4 feet square,” Molina explained.

The artwork was built to last at least 300 years. It will stand as a symbol as the city of Denver evolves over the next three centuries.

“All the heads we made face towards downtown,” Molina said. “Symbolically meaning we’re all moving forward together and we’re all trying to hopefully work towards something together.”

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