"I see what you mean" by Lawrence Argent.

Courtesy Flickr user jpellgen/Creative Commons

Lawrence Argent, the artist who created downtown Denver’s beloved Blue Bear sculpture, died this week. He was 60.

Argent’s 40-foot-high bear, officially titled “I see what you mean,” stands near 14th and Stout streets. Argent chose a bear as a representation of Colorado’s wildlife, and had it peek into the Colorado Convention Center to illustrate the exchange of ideas and curiosity that happens within.

"I really wanted to play on that social interchange, as well as present itself as a discourse of 'What is Colorado?” he told Colorado Matters in 2004, months before it was installed. 

Audio: Denver Artist Lawrence Argent Speaks With Colorado Matters In 2004

The bear is made out of composite material and weighs some 10,000 pounds. Argent told Colorado Matters he felt extra pressure because the piece was funded by taxpayers. He thought the sculpture would get mixed reviews and wouldn’t turn into a “signature” piece of public art in the city.

Yet it did. Tourists often snap photos with the bear (check out Instagram for proof.) "Lawrence's “I see what you mean,” aka the Blue Bear, has become synonymous with our city and the centerpiece of our public art collection," the city of Denver tweeted today. "Lawrence was a tremendous artist and will be greatly missed."

The bear’s high profile has made it the target of several practical jokes, including the mysterious appearance of a two-and-a-half-foot-high pile of paper mache droppings in 2012.

Argent created many other public art installations, from a giant panda bear climbing up a shopping center in Chengdu, China, to 20-foot-high blades of glass and aluminium grass in Englewood.

Argent was also a professor emeritus at the University of Denver’s School of Art and Art History. He was born in England, raised in Australia and came to Denver in the 1990s.

More recently, his stainless-steel “Venus” was completed in San Francisco last year. He told Confluence Denver earlier this year that he was working on two new sculptures in China.