On March 22, 2021, Scott Osborne, an artist from South Boulder, was working on a sculpture at his studio when he heard sirens. It was the sound of first responders heading to King Soopers, where a gunman had shot and killed 10 people inside the supermarket.
At the time, he was creating a steel structure standing 10 feet tall, with 10 facets colored in a rusted patina, forming something resembling a gemstone. One additional side near the top was high-polished stainless steel, sending back a reflection.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Osborne, who grew up in Longmont and lives about two blocks from the supermarket, decided he wanted to donate the sculpture to the community.
“Unfortunately, it takes something like this to make you see what a community is,” he told Boulder Reporting Lab. “Everyone sees what they want to in a sculpture. I just thought here you have this rusty exterior but inside is this beautiful, reflective material. I thought maybe I could give this back to the community. I just wanted to do something.”
Osborne began talking to the Museum of Boulder, a local history museum in the city’s downtown, to install the sculpture at its patio out front. Lori Preston, the museum’s executive director, endorsed the idea. Earlier this month, the city’s Landmarks Board voted unanimously to allow the installation.
It will sit on top of a sandblasted stainless steel block with laser-etched names of those who were killed: Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
The sculpture is unlikely to be unveiled before the two-year anniversary of the King Soopers shooting this week. Osborne said he wants to first host a private ceremony with the victims’ families.
The backstory to Osborne’s sculpture is one of compounding crises, and an experience familiar to many in Boulder County. On Dec. 30, 2021, days after Osborne’s mother died, the Marshall Fire tore across the county, destroying more than a thousand homes. Osborne’s studio, previously located along Marshall Road, was among those razed.
He said he lost everything he had in the studio, which he had for over 20 years. Many of his tools and artwork were reduced to ashes. The hurricane-force winds also knocked over the memorial and damaged it, he said. After setting up a new studio two miles north of Boulder, he decided to redo the sculpture. He kept the same overall vision of the original piece.
“That was one thing that kept me going when I was rebuilding,” Osborne said. “When you think in a creative manner, you’re thinking about it all the time.”
It won’t be the only memorial honoring those who were killed in the shooting. Ryan Hanschen, a community engagement manager with the City of Boulder, said the city will be supporting an upcoming engagement process for a permanent memorial. And the tragedy will be memorialized in other ways, as the community and others in Colorado wrestle with a spate of mass shootings that have happened in its wake.
The shooting has been cited as the driving force behind new state and local gun-violence prevention laws. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on two gun-control bills sponsored by Boulder County lawmakers. One would make it easier to sue gun manufacturers. The other would make it easier to temporarily confiscate someone’s firearms.
Osborne, who said he’s not one for self-promotion, explained that the sculpture is not about recognition. And he said people can interpret it how they want.
“I just wish we could make all this — the mass shootings — stop. I guess everyone wants that,” he said. “It’s not a political statement. I’d like to let the victims’ families know we’re thinking about you.”
Separately, Boulder residents are planning to gather for a day of remembrance on Wednesday at eTown Hall.