Artist: Sean Guerrero
Location: Crested Butte Center for the Arts, 606 6th Street
Medium: Chrome

 

The Thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture.  He resides in the Pacific Northwestern mountains and creates booms of thunder by flapping his wings and shoots bolts of lightning from his eyes when hunters get too close to his home. By creating rainstorms he waters the earth, making it possible for vegetation to grow.  He is rumored to be so huge he can easily pluck a killer whale out of the water, for his wingspan is as large as two canoes.  Long ago the native people pleaded to the Thunderbird to aid them during times of food storage, and he agreed, on one condition: that he only be depicted on top of totem poles with his wings stretched out.  To this day, you can find him there on many Northwest Coast totem poles.

So what is this supernatural being of power and strength doing high in the Rocky Mountains, you may ask?  Well, the Feldberg family, local patrons of the arts, wanted a Thunderbird, and they wanted the Crested Butte Center for the Arts to have it.  Sean Guerrero obliged, and this alpine version was created.  Given that the Thunderbird is said to be the dominating force of all natural activity, it’s fitting that he’s found a home in this landscape of profound seasonal changes and radical weather.  Just be forewarned…legend has it he can also transform into a human shape by opening his head up like a mask and taking his feathers off as if they were a mere blanket.  This gleaming, capricious sculpture definitely seems capable of something special.

Learn more about Sean Guerrero here.