There’s no denying it: Copper’s hot. It’s got a unique character, a surface that can be both shiny and matte, slick and subtly textured. Its color can range from burnished salmon (think Grandma’s kettle) to turquoise green (think Statue of Liberty) to deep, dark bronze (think Renaissance cathedral doors). Copper is extremely durable, versatile and adaptable, 100-percent recyclable and maintenance-free. It’s also got a rich history, dating back to 5000 BC and playing a big role in the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.
And besides all that, it looks cool.
Just ask Uriah Beuller, artist and founder of Parasoleil, a Boulder-based company that crafts unique shade panels from sheets of stamped copper. “This metal is beautiful and very alluring,” he says. “It’s timeless. And copper’s patina gets even better as it ages, so it looks wonderful over the lifespan of the object.”
Beyond his copper panels’ good looks, however, lies their real beauty, at least as far as Beuller is concerned: their usefulness. “I like to create art that will be used,” he says. “There’s certainly a place for art in museums, but I think art that’s never used is like a violin that’s never played. It loses its soul.”
Not a problem here. These masterpieces are meant to be used. The Parasoleil panels are three-foot-by-eight-foot sections of metal sheeting, which are punched, stencil-style, with one of five different patterns: Flanigan and Onion, which subtly echo the motifs of the ironwork and tiles of Morocco and East Asia; Kenyan, which looks a bit like African textiles; Continental Flower, which harkens to classic American quilts; and Lemon Drop, a subtle flower pattern that’s the most modern and least symmetrical of the bunch. The panels are thin, only 2/100 of an inch (about half as thick as a dime), and very flexible, meaning they can be bent and shaped easily. And each panel will age in its own unique way, depending on its exposure to moisture and sunlight.
Beuller, who is the son of two artists, designed the Parasoleil patterns to reflect various artistic styles even as they create an impression all their own. They were inspired, in part, from his travels, which include trips to Indonesia, Panama, Fiji, Thailand, and Kenya. The artist leads educational and cultural tours through a company called Distant Destinations, also based in Boulder. On those trips, he says, the emphasis is on leaving the beaten path and experiencing more of the real culture of the place, whether it’s a Buddhist monastery in Thailand or a Maasai village in Africa. “We try to see the heart and soul of the country,” he says. “I believe that a country’s soul is expressed through its art.”
He’s also been inspired by his family, he says. The Continental Flower pattern, for example, harkens to his mother’s artwork, which includes quilts as well as torn-paper compositions comprising orderly squares, each filled with a smaller, more chaotic arrangement of shapes and colors. “The idea is that the artist, the maker, puts himself into the art. Anyone who produces art puts something of himself into it. You always see the person, the story behind it.”
So far, the Parasoleil panels have been very popular, and Beuller has gotten requests from as far away as Australia. “The panels have huge appeal,” he says. “They’ve got many applications and many looks. You see them differently in light and shade, day and night. The options are endless.”
Indeed, Beuller’s installations already are all over Colorado, as well as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and the Kansas City area. They’re manufactured in Denver and sold through landscapers, interior designers, contractors, architects and deck builders. In most installations, the panels are screwed to a wooden frame or pergola, where they offer shade or privacy with a twist: a rich pattern that lets light and breezes through even as it protects against rain, snow and wind. The cutout patterns are subtle enough to blend into their surroundings yet strong enough to make a statement.
“The look is very inviting,” says Beuller. “Your eye is drawn to explore both what’s there and what’s missing.” Originally from Brooklyn, Beuller moved with his family to Kansas when he was 12. After studying and working in clinical psychology, he settled in Boulder in 1996 and soon after began his sculpture career. “It all started with a birdcage,” he says. “My wife and I wanted a big metal birdcage and couldn’t find one that was right, so I designed it myself.”
Inspired to pursue metalworking, he studied under master sculptors at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, then started his own business, UB Metal Arts, in 1999. He launched the Parasoleil line in 2006, promptly winning the Innovative Product award at that year’s Colorado Garden & Home Show. These days, Beuller divides his energy and talents among the Parasoleil panels and the various other products of UB Metal Arts, which include fountains, benches, staircases, tables and chairs, as well as smaller accessories: utilitarian hooks, drawer pulls, handles, knobs, address number signs along with decorative masks and other object d’art. A favorite is what he calls “Wallflowers,” a group of large copper flowers in an array of colors and arrangements.
His studio is in a small outbuilding behind his home, perched above a rushing stream – an ideal setting for both inspiration and execution. “I believe that art in its true expression is an internalized world,” he says. “When art is authentic, people are drawn to it, and that world comes through.”
Ziska Childs always knew she'd be an artist. She's the latest in a long line — eight generations, to be exact — and the daughter of world-renowned painter and printmaker Bernard Childs, whose work hangs in the National Gallery and Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other places. As a girl, she traveled the world, studying in Paris and Tokyo and soaking up her father's lessons. After her parents divorced, Ziska came to the United States with her mother, convincing her to move them to Aspen after falling in love with the town on an early ski vacation. As an adult, she moved again, this time to New York City, where she earned her master's at NYU and worked on the sets of such Broadway productions as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Beauty and the Beast.” But Aspen called her back. “I'd be walking down the street and pretending I was walking past the Independence Square Hotel. I just missed it like crazy."
“I've lived all over
the world, and this is home,” she says. And while she finds her
surroundings inspiring, it's actually the lack of distractions
here that helps her creativity thrive: “I'm not really
creating art from what I see around me,” she explains. “My
work doesn't start from the visual. It starts from something
very abstract, which takes a lot of concentration. I can concentrate
you could possibly want is all right here,” says Mickey Ackerman,
president of Amirob Architectural Interior Designers. Situated on five
acres in Denver's Cherry Hills Village, this 27,000-square-foot
manse is much more than a place to live. “We set out to meet
all of the client's wants and needs,” he says. And there
were plenty of both. The original owner of this contemporary home was
an athletic bachelor (with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do) who entertained
a lot, frequently hosting both party-goers and overnight guests. He
also was a dog-lover with four German Shepherds. Hence, he needed
you’re like most people, you’ve got a pretty good idea
of what concrete looks like: It’s the drab, grayish-white stuff
they use to build bridges. The stuff that paved the schoolyards of
your youth—the schoolyards that were always cracked and bristling
with weeds. Not the stuff you’d want in your house.
surfaces look a lot like stone, and weigh roughly the same (a 1.5-inch-thick
countertop weighs about 19 lbs. per square foot, compared to 18 lbs.
psf for a similar thickness of granite). Concrete is comparable to
both stone and synthetic surfaces like Corian in terms of its general
performance and cost. But concrete offers several advantages. It can
be formed into almost any shape—a sink, a custom countertop,
or even a piece of furniture—and can be stamped or stained
to create virtually any color or texture. The surface can be cut to
mimic the look of individual tiles, stones or bricks. Contractors also
can add sophisticated polymer overlays, which are then stamped and
textured in any pattern imaginable (these overlays can also be applied
to existing concrete installations, to repair or just update the surface).
Another bonus: A concrete item, such as an oversized sink or countertop,
can be cast in place, eliminating the problems associated with getting
an enormous object through a door.