News from the Events Design Festival and our Partners

Installation Ceremony for Youth Created Sculpture!

We are thrilled to invite all to this grand event

We are eagerly looking forward to joining together with parents, students, instructors, collaborators and neighbors at Nucla’s Volunteer Park on April 20, from 3-5pm. It will be a joyous occasion where we can share anecdotes and express our heartfelt appreciation to those who have contributed to this remarkable piece of public art. Delicious snacks will be provided by Wild Gal’s Market, adding to the festive atmosphere.

And, for those traveling from Telluride wishing to carpool. please reach out to for ride info.

2022 event- image by Michael Mowery

An Evolution…Looking Towards the Future

An Important Announcement, A Difficult Decision. …And, An Evolution.

Rocky Mountain Arts has made a difficult decision to cancel the Telluride Fire Festival for this December. Regrettably, San Miguel County will not permit the Festival to use the recently paved road at the end of the box canyon. As we no longer have an outdoor location which is suitable for large-scale flaming art, we’ve been left with no alternative but to end the Telluride Fire Festival. It’s been a great run for the past eight years.

We want to express our sincere appreciation for your passionate participation. We understand that many of you were looking forward to this event, and we thank you for your enthusiastic support.

We will keep you informed of any developments, including potential rescheduling or new locations.

Please do follow us on our journey as we continue supporting education in the arts through workshops for youth and adults.

We wish to thank Michael Mowery for this beautiful image pictured above.

With Love & Gratitude,

Erin Ries, Executive Director
Chris Myers, Board President

We’re seriously excited about the Youth October Sculpture Build!

Here’s the scoop!

Dates: October 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29.

Expert artists/builders and an architect guide the students during the entire program. Participants are involved for as many days as they wish. The final sculpture will be on display in Telluride, Norwood, Nucla, and Naturita for part of the year. Participants will be named on signage with sculpture. Transportation, food, materials, and all safety gear provided.
Advance sign up was required for students coming from Nucla, Naturita, and Norwood to confirm transportation.

OUR EXPERTS: Keith D’Angelo, Niel Ringstad, and Sherri Harvey

They have guided the students during our discussions about this sculpture creation.

Email with answers or questions or to sign up!

Download the flyer

Huge thanks to our collaborators for this workshop:
True North Youth Program, Communities That Care, Wilkinson Public Library, Telluride High School.

Results of the 2-day welding workshop

…what a great weekend it was. Dan and Keith were fabulous instructors and the group was all so engaged and fun to be with. Would love to keep in touch. Thanks for your efforts to put all this together. I was inspired. —Terry Tice

The two-day beginner welding workshop held this past weekend resulted in a team created sculpture with flame effects that put a smile on everyone’s face. And, each participant had time to make a masterpiece of their own to take home as well.


Rocky Mountain Arts gave scholarships to two True North Youth Program students with the support of Alpine Bank.

One student has requested an internship as a result of the time spent with our incredible instructors, Keith D’Angelo and Dan Gundrum.

hels diner

We love supporting other Nonprofits!

We’re excited about sharing the nonprofit Camp Porta Party and their amazing Art Car, Hel’s Diner to all we know. We have first-hand experience managing the challenges of maintaining and improving an Art Car (AKA Mutant Vehicle) for the community at Burning Man’s annual event.

Why we love it

  • It’s a gift to the Black Rock City community
  • Creative Art with music for all to appreciate and ride

“These works of art don’t come together overnight and they are always a labor of love that require a dedicated (and talented) team, a big storage area, and sophisticated equipment to build.” explains Erin Ries

“We’re supporting not only this project, but several other projects at Burning Man” she adds. “I think art is one of the few things that separates humanity from the animal kingdom. It’s incumbent on people with means to help fund what they are passionate about. And, art is one of the things we’re truly passionate about.”

Consider donating to the Hel’s Diner Kickstarter please.


2023 Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Rocky Mountain Arts (RMA) is pleased to announce it has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to receive a Challenge America award of $10,000. The grant will support a Community Build Sculpture Project for youth. This grant is one of 262 Challenge America awards totaling $2.62 million that were announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants. We look forward to working with the NEA to finalize the grant details and appreciate the agency’s support.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities nationwide”, said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “Projects such as this one with Rocky Mountain Arts strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy”.

“Rocky Mountain Arts is honored to be recognized with this NEA award that will allow us to reach youth in our region to collaborate with local sculptors, artists, and experts for this sculptural creation”, said Chris Myers, Board President.

Community Build Sculpture Project Details
Rocky Mountain Arts is creating a community sculpture build this year with the help of professional artists, architects, and builders. “We will work to inspire, teach, build self-confidence and offer all a place to express themselves during this creative process. Our goals are to reach the under-served communities in San Miguel and the West End of Montrose Counties to come together in the creation of a large-scale sculpture,” Explains Erin Ries, Executive Director.

This sculpture will ultimately be on permanent display. The plan is to obtain participation from youth and adults in Telluride, Norwood and the West End School Districts.

This program is free to all and RMA will provide all tools, materials, safety gear and lunch each program day. Additionally, RMA will provide  lodging and transportation for those who wish to participate but may be too far away for the commute.

Key Partners, Collaborators, Artists, Experts

True North Youth Program (TNYP)
True North serves the teen population in the rural San Juan Region. TNYP programs are available to all teens in the Norwood, Telluride and West End school districts and are free of charge. True North offers five year-round programs: (i) Workforce Preparedness and College Access including Scholarship Awards, (ii) Positive Youth Development through Outdoor Recreation, (iii) Community Service Learning, (iv) Academic Tutoring and Support, and (v) Rising Stars Summer Bridge Program. TNYP will work to help promote the program to teens as well as participate in a few of the build days.

Telluride Middle/High School (THS)
The Counseling Department at THS is collaborating on this project with the help of Alex Jones, High School Counselor. The school will offer the program to students, encourage participation, and provide outdoor space for the finished sculpture to be on display for a portion of the year.

Located in Naturita, CO, CampV’s mission to connect people, art, and community to ignite a spark in the historic mining town of Naturita fits with our vision for this project. The setting is the perfect place to complete the build and display the completed installation. CampV will help us bring together the surrounding rural communities to inspire connection and creativity.

CTC Communities That Care
Communities That Care (CTC) is collaborating on the project through resources they can contribute such as Spanish interpretation and translation, funds for childcare, food, and more. Said Ben Marshall, CTC Administrator: “This project fits with our mission to work alongside youth to develop programs to promote healthy and drug-free living.

Keith D’Angelo
Keith is a local artist who has produced many larger-than-life wood and interactive, propane fired sculptures for many of the previous Telluride Fire Festival. His public art installations are located in Aspen, Telluride, Carbondale, and Breckenridge. Keith is uniquely qualified to be one of our supporting artists as he has spent countless hours volunteering with underserved youth for his Master’s Degree.

Niel Ringstad
Originally from NYC, Niel is distinguished as a 35-year Telluride local, living for his first 10-years in a ski-bum shack of 72 square-feet. Niel is a graphic designer, an accomplished painter, and builder. He has built six towering sculptural works for the Telluride Fire Festival, which were cornerstones of the event. Niel is also deeply committed to giving back to his community. His community involvement has led to taking time out to help build a house in Norwood with Habitat For Humanity. His skills as a builder and artist make him perfectly qualified to be on our team.

Sherri Harvey
Sherri Harvey has 25 years’ experience in architecture. She has a Masters of Architecture degree from The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, which is the oldest independent school of architecture in the UK and one of the most prestigious and competitive in the world. Her Bachelor of Architecture degree is from Penn State University. Sherri has two teenagers living with her in Telluride and believes in giving back to her community. She has served on the Historic & Architectural Review Commission for Telluride’s National Historic Landmark District for many years.

For more information on other projects included in the NEA’s grant announcement, visit


New Sculpture to be transformed by fire, Dec. 3

See Impermanence transformed by flames at Resurrection Dec. 3!

From an array of reclaimed and stripped old deck boards, Impermanence is well on its way to fruition for the Telluride Fire Festival. “This project has been a welcome creative challenge, and I can’t wait to share its transformation from a completed sculpture, to a flaming beacon, to ashes in the wind,” Says Cie Hoover

More about the Artist
Cie Hoover lives and creates his art in Ouray, Colorado. He’s had a passion for visual arts since the days of his youth. Cie worked in the Nashville music industry for over a decade, then toured full-time in North America with You Knew Me When. Afterwards, Cie immersed himself in the visual arts. His artwork is based in utilizing various types of wood to create wall-mounted and large sculptural works with depth and texture. Along with several public art installations throughout the state, Cie’s art can be found at Slate Gray Gallery in Telluride. Check out his creations on Facebook and Instagram.

Hex Machina: Gigantic, Interactive “Lantern”

Nate Robertson and Garrett Briones will be bringing Hex Machina, an interactive propane fire “poofer” or “boosh” effect. Essentially, this is a gigantic, interactive lantern: Visitors can push a button to release a burst of fire within the large steel hexagonal lantern which is seated above a 22 ft hexagonal steel framework. This flame effect is a high pressure propane system, utilizing structural steel fabrication to create a safe, stable fire sculpture. See and interact with Hex Machina Saturday, December 3.

The entirety of the supporting frame is composed of carbon steel 14 gauge-⅜in. thickness of materials. Six sections of fabricated 2’x1’x14 ga. square tubing supports connect from the bottom ⅜” thick, hexagonal baseplates, to a hexagonal plate connection plate at the top, forming a solid steel, monolithic structure.

About the Artists

Nate Robertson has a passion for sustainability when creating art. That sentimentality drives his creative process. Hey is experienced in building tiny homes, van-builds, shipping container builds, skoolies and off-grid applications, which inform and influence his art creations.

Nate started building at age seven for family businesses. He completed a welding certification program in 2012 and has spent the past decade incorporating all he learned into fabrication methods and processes, building everything from roller coasters to 60-ton stainless steel pressure vessels and everything in between. Nate connected with the NM’s Burning Man Regional in 2019, and fell in love. Now, he’s a Board Member! He says, “I’ll never stop making large scale fire art until the day I die if I have anything to say about it.”

Garrett Briones started woodworking with his father as a child. A knack for things running smoothly also inspired his degree in Flowology, focusing on making sure every aspect of life and work was streamlined for success. His true passion for fabrication began when he discovered tiny living, especially school bus conversions.Ccurrently, Garrett helps with SunBurn, NM’s Regional Burning Man. Garrett leads the DPW Dept. and creates large scale art for the event as well. Making art is his passion and always will be.

true north workshop participants from 2021

Free Teen Sculpture Build, Oct. 1 & 2!

Rocky Mountain Arts will collaborate with True North Youth Program to produce a wood building sculpture workshop for teens through support from Alpine Bank. The completed art installation will be on display on December 3 at the Telluride Fire Festival. All students will be invited to attend the event in December.

Oct 1 & 2: 10am-4pm each day
Snacks, lunch, tools, and all supplies provided both days.

Text or call 970-708-1986 to sign up!
Only 10 spots are available!

Thanks to Alpine Bank’s generosity for helping to make this workshop a reality.
Alpine Bank believes in creating strong, long-lasting relationships and giving back. When they are not working in the bank, you will find them volunteering in the community, attending local events and enjoying the many outdoor activities Telluride offers.

Partner Hooping, Dec. 3

Learn how to hula hoop with a partner. In this workshop, you will learn how to make isolation shapes with 2-4 hoops and a partner that is pleasing for performances or just plain fun. Hoops Supplied.