Taking a self-guided tour of Bradford Rhea’s public sculptures positioned across Sterling is a perfect way to soak in the talent of the acclaimed Colorado artist. Most are located relatively close to each other and a pamphlet with a detailed map and guide is available at the Logan County Tourist Information Center at 102 North Riverview Road in Sterling.
“I’m confident to say the sculptures are one of our biggest attractions,” said Marilee Johnson, tourist center director/public information coordinator for Logan County. “Skygrazers is probably my favorite because I envision how it looked as a tree and how it morphed into the sculpture.”
Art enthusiasts of all ages will be delighted and inspired by the diverse array of Rhea’s creations that includes the following:
Metamorphosis (Bronze and wood)
The sculpture is located in front of the Tourist Information Center and brings to life a caterpillar spinning a cocoon, then bursting into a butterfly ready to take flight.
Carved from cottonwood, the piece represents the tenacity of those who survive life on the plains and illustrates their flight through time.
Dedicated to the city in 1987, the sculpture symbolizes the courage, grace and evolution of women in society.
The Scripture-inspired work carved from a massive cottonwood trunk features a lion, ox, man and an eagle.
Commissioned by the Sterling High School class of 1986, the work depicts the school’s famous mascot.
Dream Redeemer (Bronze)
The imaginative bronze creation was commissioned by the Logan County Chamber of Commerce Marketing Committee in 2008.
The Mask (Wood)
The piece brings to life the classic theatrical theme of comedy and tragedy.
Plainsman Pete (Wood)
The wood carving was commissioned by the Associated Student Government in 1986 and serves as a mascot for Northeastern Junior College.
The work was created to honor Jack Annan and his years of service to Northeastern Junior College and Colorado agriculture.
Possibly the most recognized of Rhea’s public sculptures, the bronzed elm tree piece was dedicated to the City of Sterling in 1984 and is prominently located in Columbine Park.
Minuteman (Bronze and Wood)
Rhea used authentic period clothing and a live model to create the revolutionary-era colonial guardsman.
The Dreamer (Bronze)
The bronze work was created and donated by Rhea in 1983 and welcomes visitors to Sterling’s Pioneer Park.
Full Swing (Wood)
The wood sculpture of a golfer in a classic stance was originally carved near the first tee of the Sterling Country Club.
Carved from a 30,000-pound block of Colorado Yule marble, the sculpture was inspired by Revelation 8:6 and features seven angels sounding seven trumpets.
Several of the bronze pieces may be viewed anytime since they are located outside, but in order to see all of the sculptures on the tour, the tourist center recommends visiting Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., when all the facilities featuring Rhea’s wood pieces are open and accessible.
Alternatively, an online, interactive map highlighting several of the most popular sculptures is available at https://www.exploresterling.com/sights/public-sculptures.
Check out the video below to see some of Bradford’s works of art: