Playful `Plash' placed in park

Artwork is designed to interact with light

Sonya Ellingboe
Nationally recognized artists Tom and Jean Latka talk about “Plash,” a sculpture created from glass, concrete and steel, installed near the pond’s edge at Little’s Creek Park in Littleton.
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The South Suburban Public Art Committee welcomed its most recent commissioned acquisition, “Plash,” on June 27 at Little's Creek Park, near the intersection of Broadway and Sterne Parkway.

Committee chair Joyce Volpe introduced other committee members and the artists, Jean and Tom Latke of Pueblo, at the site.

Created from brilliantly colored glass, stainless steel and concrete, “Plash” is positioned to catch the sun and bright light and play games with them. The Latkas explained that “Plash” is the sound of a drop hitting water.

They spoke of their start as ceramists and their transition into working with glass. “We found the pottery equipment also works for glass. Thirty-five years of making pots is enough. And glass is very sexy,” Tom Latka said.

He had earlier told committee member Charles Whitley (publisher of ArtScape Colorado and a friend): “To be an artist is like doing a tap dance on a tightrope between the head, the heart and the hands …”

This work really illustrates that, with its passionate use of color and form, as well as the manifestation of technical skills in assembling the glass, cementing it to concrete and framing it in mirror-finish steel. “Plash” measures 6-by-8-by-6 feet and weighs 5,000 pounds. It is carefully sited to avoid the park's sprinklers.

The Latkas, who are nationally recognized and have work in the Smithsonian collection, produce works of public art that withstand weathering and are attractive to viewers of all ages. (I found myself wishing for the company of a 4-year-old when “Plash” was introduced — it would be love at first sight.)

From the Latkas' website: “Our goal is to reconnect with these archetypal, primal-ubiquitous forms, the shapes that everyone relates to, like spheres, circles, ovals and spirals. Universal forms, like the shape of our planet or the concentric circles or drops of water are our guide …”

The easily accessible “Plash” is a good introduction to the Latkas' world. An example of earlier ceramic work is a 1998 relief mural on the wall of the Littleton Center, soon after one enters.