Gary Weber and Dave Robb. They drilled the holes for the anchors and helped touch-up the grey primer prior to the artists picking up their pieces. Photo courtesy Shanna Robb
The Art Alliance of Idyllwild’s ambitious project to install public art in Idyllwild and Pine Cove moved from page to reality when 22 nearly life-size aluminum deer arrived at Forest Lumber Wednesday, June 12.

Twenty-three mostly local artists and representatives of the Idyllwild School smARTS program began picking up deer assigned to their creative care as part of a three-month process for artists to paint the deer in themes connected to Idyllwild life, history or culture.

The project, “Idyllwild Deer Sightings,” imagines the herd dispatched to 12 locations, including the village’s central business core, Fern Valley Corners, the Nature Center on Highway 243, and the Pine Cove Market and Station property. Volunteer project coordinator Shanna Robb said Shane Stewart, owner of the Pine Cove site, is building a special garden location for the buck and two does that will permanently reside there. The installation will be lit at night. It’s the last site to be added and Robb expressed satisfaction that the installations now extend to both Hill communities.

The herd’s composition is eight bucks and seven does standing, five fawns grazing and two recumbent fawns.

Twenty-two donors who share AAI’s vision of Idyllwild as not just an art town, but a public art town graced by permanent art installations designed to be touched, discussed and yes, held and caressed, are the sponsors.

“We’re building friendships here,” said Robb, referring to budding nascent friendships among some of the participants. “And,” said Robb, “we will be building friendships among townspeople and tourists drawn together by these works of art.”

Artists include Idyllwild School smARTS students, Rachel Welch, Jerry Baccaire, Neil Jenkins and Donna Elliot, Robert Bush, Karlis Dabols, Helen Haskell Molles, Millie Shaw, Brenda Underwood, Richard Stergulz, Mimi Lamp, Lois Sheppard, Fariad and Jennifer Ali, Kathy Harmon-Luber, Marilyn Boire, Darcy Gerdes, Jan Bruner, Jan Jaspers-Fayer, Betty Anderson, Ron Singerton, Pat Hughes and Erin Murray.

Metal sculptor Dore Capitani will design the stand for the dedicatory plaque that explains the exhibit. It, along with a buck, doe and fawn, are to be placed in the gazebo area of Village Centre. Each artist has been assigned a theme, some of which are the Cahuilla Native American tribe, hiking and climbing, the legend of Tahquitz and quilting.

“The spirit of this project is in full swing, as witnessed by the enthusiasm of the artists, location owners, sponsors and community,” said Robb. “If ever in doubt of what can be accomplished by a small village, this is another example of what can be created by a grass-roots approach that celebrates the uniqueness, history and colors of Idyllwild.”

Each deer will be affixed to a permanent base with plaques listing the sponsor’s and artist’s names. In addition to Village Centre and Pine Cove Market, locations at which more than one deer will reside include the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, La Casita Mexican Restaurant, BBVA Compass Bank, and the Nature Center.

On Sept. 15, the entire herd of fully finished artist creations will be assembled for public viewing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Forest Lumber. Afterward, the herd migrates to its respective permanent installation sites.