New artist nonprofit hopes to bring interactive art to Cortez

Monday, July 9, 2018 5:10 PM
Yale Fyler shows off his almost-complete “Bike Blender,” which runs on pedal power, in his studio at the Art Forge.
Three members of the Deep Desert Art Collective – Yale Fyler, Rose Russell and David Butler – outside the soon-to-be-opened Art Forge.
Panels made from bike wheels decorate the inside of the Art Forge at 100 N. Pinon Drive.

A new group of artists and metalworkers want to bring the Cortez art scene out of the gallery and onto the street.

The Deep Desert Art Collective started roughly six months ago as a group of six artists who wanted to create large, interactive public art displays for Cortez. Since then, Deep Desert has gained status as a nonprofit community group working under the umbrella of Onward! A Legacy Foundation, and its members plan to introduce themselves to the public at a launch party on July 20. The party will also serve as a soft opening for a new Cortez gallery and metalworking studio.

Right now, the interior of 100 N. Piñon Drive, where the party will be held, bears some resemblance to a scrapyard. Bicycles and bike parts are piled everywhere – sometimes in a recognizable pattern and sometimes not. Goldsmith and Deep Desert member Rose Russell said the group has a tentative design for a bike-themed pilot art project.

Although she wouldn’t give many details about it, she said all Deep Desert projects will use recycled materials, like the bike parts donated by Belt Salvage that decorate the shop, and provide ways for viewers to interact with them.

“We want people to be a part of the art ... participate in the art and not just view it,” she said.

Russell and fellow Deep Desert artist Rosie Carter brought their pilot project design to the Cortez Public Arts Committee at its June 13 meeting, requesting the city’s help to fund it. Board president Sonja Horoshko said she was impressed by their presentation, but it was outside the city’s public art budget.

“They have great skills and they’re very energetic, and I hope we can use them in response to a request for proposal someday,” she said.

Right now, the committee is focused on a public art project that it’s been planning for months: turning an old tree in Montezuma Park into a sculpture. Horoshko said that project is moving forward, and she hopes to be able to announce the selected artist for it soon.

In the meantime, the Deep Desert artists are looking for more members, project ideas – and donations. Russell and company hope the launch party on July 20 will serve all those goals. Guests will be able to make their own “bike-a-ritas” in a pedal-powered blender designed by Yale Fyler, bid on art in an auction, listen to music and discuss their ideas on how to bring more accessible art to Cortez.

Fyler, who owns the building at 100 N. Piñon Drive, also plans to use the party to introduce people to his shop. The Cortez metalworker has spent several months remodeling the building in order to turn it into an art gallery and studio, which he’s calling the Art Forge. He’s already taught a few private metalworking classes there, and at the party he plans to unveil a new teaching schedule.

The front of the building will become Fyler’s first metal art gallery in Cortez. Dave Butler, another Deep Desert artist who specializes in art made from salvage, said residents should be looking forward to the opening.

“(Fyler’s) a master at anything to do with metal or machine work or welding,” he said. “If anybody can’t fix something around town, they take it to Yale.”

The Deep Desert Art Collective also includes physical therapist Kari Cockrill and salvage sculptor Geof Byerly.

Whatever sculptures the group ends up creating, Russell said she hopes they will become an oasis for art lovers in the Cortez area.

“I would love to stimulate an arts economy here and give Cortez an artistic identity,” she said.

If you go

What: Deep Desert Art Collective Launch Party.

When: 6 p.m. Friday, July 20.

Where: 100 N. Piñon Drive, Cortez.

Cost: Free (art and food prices vary).

More information: Contact Rosie Carter at or go to the Deep Desert Art Collective Facebook page.