Artist CJ Rench sparks imagination with vibrant new N Line artwork

Rising from the center of the bus roundabout near the N Line commuter rail platform at Original Thornton•88th Station is an impressive 23-foot-tall steel sculpture called “Bloom.” 

Bloom artwork 1080

Public artist CJ Rench fabricated the recent addition to RTD’s Art-n-Transit program from mild steel, a material known for its long-term durability and being malleable and easier to weld.

As described by Rench, “‘Bloom’ hopes to bring a sense of discovery and timelessness with intersecting forms and colorful inlays.”

One rail stop to the north, another CJ Rench design, “Urban Trees,” graces the wall near the pedestrian tunnel at Thornton Crossroads•104th Station. Here, people can stop at the base of a canopy of textured stainless-steel trees and gaze up at vibrant blue, yellow, red, green and orange leaves that fan out more than six feet from the station wall.

"Urban Trees" art install at Thornton Crossroads 104th Station

A self-taught industrial engineer and sporting goods designer for 13 years, Rench began creating sculptures in 2004 at his studio in Hood River, Oregon. He has since installed more than 56 large-scale public artworks throughout the United States.

Rench’s artistic process begins with selecting a site. He then assesses the possibilities within the budget he is given, choosing materials based on durability and timeless quality, which he said are challenging and rewarding aspects of his work.

An array of colorful acrylic panels set into the bright abstract structures at both stations emulate the colors of local wildflowers found nearby. In fact, the design concepts, colors and iconic shapes come from a visit Rench once made to the area.

“A few years ago, I was in Thornton and Northglenn and there were amazing wildflowers everywhere, so I went with that theme,” Rench said. “I love biomorphic designs that mimic nature’s same forms. ‘Bloom’ does that with both the colors and the forms, and ‘Urban Trees’ was a way to incorporate something dimensional by having the branches come off the wall.”

"Urban Trees" artwork at Thornton Crossroads 104th Station

  The art installations, completed March 31, were made possible through a partnership involving RTD, the city of Thornton and the art selection committee, consisting of community members and local stakeholders.

Since 1994, the mission of RTD's Art-n-Transit program has been to enhance the design, aesthetic quality and user friendliness of transit projects, and to foster transit-oriented community development.

The Art-n-Transit program is based on RTD's belief that public art helps provide a stronger connection between neighborhoods and transit. Installing artwork at transit facilities creates a sense of community and provides opportunities to celebrate the diverse cultural, ethnic and historical richness of the many communities RTD serves. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the entire transit system, public art also helps discourage vandalism and graffiti.

To see a video of the art installations, click here.

"Urban Trees" from below