Arts with Anne

Not many business ventures begin with the word “dude.”

Maybe not enough if you ask Denver artist and metal fabricator David Simpson.

A chance meeting between Simpson and Ronnie Caldwell, owner of Innovative Pest Management in Denver, started with an odd exchange.

“Dude, you have to have a spider in front of your company,” Simpson said when he met Caldwell. Simpson thought one of his pieces would fit perfectly in the front yard of the Campground Road business. Caldwell wasn’t sold on the idea immediately, but Simpson was persistent.

“I mean it, dude. Think about it: a spider – call me.”

Caldwell didn’t bite initially, but the two became friends. Before too long the duo was working out exactly how to build a 900-pound arachnid for the front of the shop. And shortly after that the project spawned other ideas that quickly grew legs.

The black widow spider is massive. It’s as big as a car and sits atop an 11,000-pound granite boulder. It’s made of silver, 16-gauge, riveted, welded and polished stainless steel and painted black with the widow’s famous red spot.

Simpson lived the creation day and night for three months of conceptual work and welding.

To install the creation, Simpson and Caldwell enlisted the help of the community. Denny Snyder of Martin Marietta Quarry lent his trailer to transport the boulder and Dellinger Landscape helped get it into place. Stone Age drilled the holes to mount the unwieldy widow.

More than 200 people attended the unveiling of the statue. And it’s quickly become a community favorite.

Danny Hearn, President of the Catawba Chamber of Commerce, quoted Fast Company Magazine saying “CEOs around the world were surveyed asking what they thought was the most important thing to be successful in the next 3 to 5 years?”  Hearn said the answer was, “62 percent say creativity and innovation.

“I think putting a spider in front of a pest control company counts for creativity and innovation,” he said.

Once into place, the spider was one of the most unique lawn ornaments around. But it was more than that.

Ronnie Caldwell said a few months ago, a Denver citizen approached him and said, “Denver has a spider in our town. High Point has a rocking chair but we have a spider.”

Anne Michael is a Denver artist and writer. She writes an arts column twice a month for Denver Weekly called “Arts with Anne.”

Want more information?

To see the statue and unveiling visit and search The Widow Project Movie.

To see some of Dave Simpson’s work visit his website at