Troubled sculptor Starr Kempf took his own life in 1995, but his towering works of moving, gleaming metal are still on display on the lawn of his former home – after having a troubled life of their own.
Kempf was known for his monumental works of shining metal whimsy. The majority of his work took the form of over-sized steel abstractions that would shift and move in the wind. From fantastical birds to undulating spires, Kempf’s work was generally seen as joyous. However, like many artists before him, Kempf harbored a dark streak, which for him manifested in some of his lesser known sculptural works which he generally kept private. This darkness would finally overtake him in 1995 when he took his own life.
After Kempf passed away, a number of his works remained where he had positioned them in his front yard. Fans and sightseers began flocking to the home to see his works and the artist’s daughter began giving tours of the site as well. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with some of the other wards of the artist’s estate, not to mention Kempf’s neighbors. The city, backed by one of Kempf’s relatives, came to the home to remove some of the works, but Kempf’s daughter fiercely protested the action. Three of the pieces were removed, but many were left.
The three removed sculptures, Sunrise Serenade, Metronome, and Space Needle, are on display at the ENT Center for the Arts (5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, Colorado) on the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus. They will be displayed until 2022.
Today a number of the kinetic sculptures still stand on the front lawn and can be viewed from the street. Simply try to be respectful when visiting lest more of the pieces be put in jeopardy.
Know Before You Go
2057 Pine Grove St. Near Cheyenne Mountain, about ten minutes from the interstate. Exit 1-25 at highway 87, go south to Cheyenne Rd, go right/west. As you approach Cheyenne Canyon, look for Evans Ave. and take a left turn. The house is about one block down on the left hand side of the street.