Starr Kempf's Metal Sculptures - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posted by: Big B Bob
N 38° 47.358 W 104° 51.834
13S E 511820 N 4293404
Quick Description: A tortured artist takes his own life and leaves behind a controversy of art.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 6/8/2009 2:06:56 PM
Waymark Code: WM6J1Y
Starr Gideon Kempf was a sculptor, architect, and artist best known for his graceful steel wind kinetic sculptures.
Starr began to work in bronze sculpture in 1955, which he sold to collectors around the United States. As of 1977, his vision had blossomed into the creation of elaborate steel wind sculptures, each of which took him up to three years to construct. His kinetic wind sculptures were designed to exhibit graceful movement and interaction with the wind, and took the form of birds and wind vanes, often soaring to more than fifty feet in height.
Starr Kempf committed suicide in 1995.
Kempf's work is well-known in the Colorado Springs area, not only due to its having become a popular fixture of the Colorado Springs community over the last 30 years but also due to controversy regarding its display on the Kempf family property where Kempf's grandson, Joshua M. Kempf currently lives. For many years, the home in Cheyenne Canyon privately displayed ten of his giant kinetic wind sculptures in the garden and a collection of his Bronze works were housed inside the fortified studio. After Starr's suicide in 1995, his youngest daughter Charlotte decided she was going to convert her Mother's retirement home into a 9am-5pm, Monday-Saturday museum. In order to do this she was required by the City to hold a Neighborhood forum to discuss her plans (and request for a Zone Overlay Change) with those folks it would most directly affect; her mother's neighbors. During the meeting one Lady asked if she would consider reducing her hours of operation to 10am -4pm. Charlotte became enraged and stormed out of the meeting. A few weeks later several of the Neighbors (and the City of Colorado Springs) were served with a Law suit brought by Charlotte which claimed damages of over 7 million dollars. This led the same neighbors to file a complaint with the City relating to the Height and Setback of several of the sculptures. This precipitated a long and divisive battle over the future of the sculptures which included three lawsuits (and two appeals) brought by Charlotte against her nephew, Joshua M. Kempf (with her egregious allegations that he was an "agent of the United Nations" and listing Kofi Annan (then Secretary general of The U.N.)) as a Defendant. Since the original action against the Neighbors, Charlotte has also sued her brother and sister, placed spurious liens against her family members and various other parties and attorneys totaling many millions of dollars, and continues to this day to assert that she is the sole inheritor of the entire house and all the monumentals. This despite the fact that all the documents she claims grant her such were declared by the Court to be invalid during her mother's Guardianship Hearings. Hedwig Kempf had been suffering from dementia for some years prior to the date she was coerced into signing these documents. Charlotte continues to deny the jurisdiction and authority of the Court.
In December 2001 Joshua Kempf (on behalf of Starr Enterprises-a family trust) met with City Attorney Thomas Morisee and they negotiated a deal with the Colorado Springs City Council that would allow the sculpture garden to remain on the site provided no more commercial tours of the property were given and certain signs were removed. Charlotte Kempf consented to the terms and conditions of the agreement in front of her entire family but the following week secretly violated that agreement and went on to cite an imaginary "Grandfather" clause (Height and Setback restrictions were actually stricter under the old County zoning for the area and therefore no Grandfather clause existed) and a dubious and legally worthless instrument called a "Land Patent". Charlotte then continued to give tours in violation of existing injunctions and knowingly incur fines against her mother's property totaling tens of thousands of dollars. She was subsequently removed as a trustee of Starr Enterprises. In 2002, Judge David Gilbert ordered that six of the sculptures closest to the property line be removed. As of June 2003, three of them have been relocated; the fate of the remaining sculptures has yet to be determined. Joshua Kempf continues to work with the City attorney's office and the long suffering neighbors to maintain peace and harmony while furthering Starr's incredible artistic legacy. He has a permanent restraining order against Charlotte Kempf, as does his wife.
Starr 5 Company currently protects, maintains, and manages Kempf's incredible artistic legacy, under direction from Starr's grandson Joshua M. Kempf. Joshua is the eldest son of Michael Kempf (also a talented Artist and Sculptor) who was Starr's only son and of the three children, Michael was the only one who Starr enlisted as his assistant and creative confidant. Charlotte Kempf is permanently estranged from the rest of the Family after subjecting them to numerous frivolous and vicious accusations, liens, investigations, lawsuits and assorted fantastic pseudo-legal regurgitation's. Madelin Nelson and her husband Dwight Nelson live in the beautiful town of La Veta, Colorado and visit the Springs regularly to see friends and family.
*I wrote to the Kempf estate and asked what is the current status of the sculptures. On 06/09/2009 I received this response from the grandson of Starr Kempf:
There are still 5 standing and three on the ground at the moment. I will be sending out an international RFP for several of them later in the year.
Thanks for your interest in Starr's work.
Price of Admission: 0.00 (listed in local currency)
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