Dore Capitani with his steampunk-themed flying deer after it was installed at the Art Alliance of Idyllwild’s Courtyard Gallery during last week’s studio walk.
Photo by Peter Szabadi

In 2013, the Art Alliance of Idyllwild added a touch of colorful magic to Idyllwild by installing 22 painted deer, the first public art project of its kind on the Hill. Of the original 22 deer, “Rocky” outside of La Casita was stolen and “Postcards from Idyllwild” at Idyllwild Inn was destroyed beyond repair. Neil Jenkins replaced Rocky with “Rocky II” that now stands in front of La Casita.

As a second stage in 2018, AAI planned to install just another 15 deer. However, the project proved so popular with artists and sponsors that the herd reached a total of 50 painted deer and one coyote. AAI artists took their imaginations to new heights creating magical, mythical and exotic creatures.

The last of the herd, “Samuel T. Deerfly,” created by Dore Capitani, was installed at the Courtyard Gallery on Saturday, June 22. This steampunk masterpiece of gears, keys and a wingspan more than 5 feet long represents the very best Idyllwild artists have to offer and is a fitting conclusion to this six-year project. AAI sponsored Samuel T. Deerfly and dedicated it to Idyllwild Realty in appreciation of its support throughout the years. 

Besides the artist Capitani, the installation team consisted of Neil Jenkins, Scott Bump, Eric Yandell and Scott Finnell.

AAI publishes maps of the “Trail of the Painted Deer” so that locals and visitors may identify all of the deer, their names, the artists who painted them, their locations and the generous people who sponsored them. The herd consists of bucks, does and fawns, each with its own theme and no two are alike. 

Maps are available at the Idyllwild Area Historical Society, the Courtyard Gallery and other locations throughout Idyllwild. A tour of the entire herd brings visitors to Idyllwild to the unique businesses and restaurants, and reveals many of the delights to be had in our wonderful town. 

Learn more about the project by visiting