Deer sculptures become artists’ canvasses

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Kathy Harmon-Luber’s doe leads one on an impressionistic journey of local nature — from the nurturing of water, past Lake Fulmor, to a night sky filled with stars. Photo courtesy of Shanna Robb

Sunday, Sept. 15, will herald a unique event in town and the only time it can be seen. A herd of metallic, painted deer will be browsing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside Forest Lumber on Pine Crest Avenue.

This “Community Herd Gathering” is the only time all 22 deer sculptures will be together. Beginning that week, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, which has organized this pubic art display, will distribute each sculpture to its personal location throughout town, according to project organizer Shanna Robb.

Robb has assigned 24 local artists the task to paint the deer. Each artist has a specific theme to portray. For example, Donna Elliot and Neil Jenkins depicted the numerous opportunities for climbing and hiking adventures on their buck.

Elliot and Jenkins only joined AAI in the past year, but found this project an excellent opportunity to get involved in the local artistic community. In their travels throughout the West, they have seen many community art projects that identify many of the small towns scattered in the region.

But painting a metallic deer sculpture is not simple, even if the animal doesn’t move. Several days and many hours were invested to complete these projects to each artist’s standard.

Kathy Harmon-Luber, the 2012 AAI artist of the year, spent several days developing her artist’s statement before applying paint to doe. “I really wanted to be part of this. It will really make the town unique. It’ll make Idyllwild a destination,” she said and devoted more than 30 hours creating her doe. This does not include the time to write a poem about her deer.

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