The new deer herd is gathering for its first public appearance.
Photo by Peter Szabadi

In 2013, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild made public-art history in Idyllwild by spearheading a project to place 22 painted deer around town. Artists volunteered their time and talent, and individuals and local businesses sponsored the deer. One of the original herd was stolen and replaced, but another was damaged beyond repair due to an automobile crash.

This year, 28 new deer and one coyote will be added to the existing herd. AAI President Donna Elliot commented, “Our initial order was for only 13 new deer but interest grew from both artists wishing to paint a deer and sponsors wishing to support the project. We increased the order four times to add a total of 28 new deer and one coyote. For a town our size, it is just possible that we have more public art per person than anywhere else.”

The majority of artists are local, but some have stepped up to the challenge from the desert cities of La Quinta, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, San Jacinto and Temecula. Such was the appeal of making a lasting contribution to the town of Idyllwild, already known as an art destination.

The deer are cast from aluminum with a rough texture that made some designs harder to execute than others. The “herd” is made up of bucks, does and fawns. One of the new deer will honor the golden retriever mayors of Idyllwild, while others capture the natural beauty that is part of Idyllwild’s main attraction. More quirky themes include Steampunk, the Mad Hatter, Fantasy and a Princess Fawn with a jeweled crown.

The newly dedicated Idypark will host a family of deer to include a buck, a doe and a fawn. Other public locations include Idyllwild School and the Help Center. The destroyed deer at Idyllwild Inn will be replaced with “Americana” — a buck that pays tribute to our armed services.

A “Herd Gathering” takes place from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at the Courtyard Gallery. It is the only time the entire new herd will be together before being installed at their respective locations.