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.

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

A successful Beginner Welding Workshop

The Beginner Welding Workshop, like many other events, was canceled due to the pandemic this past December 2020. Through determination, a loyal following and an eager instructor, it was rescheduled for May 22 and 23 in an above ground nonworking mine at Deep Creek Experimental.

Nine people participated in the workshop. Four, ranging from 13 to 17 years of age—were sponsored by One-To-One Mentoring. Several adults from Telluride participated as well. All materials and safety equipment were supplied to the students, they just needed to show up ready to create.

The students learned the process of creating a steel fire art project from scratch using reclaimed materials. Dan taught the basics of shop safety, welding basics, metal manipulation, and how to add fire elements. Materials on the first day. The students collaborated on the creation of a fire sculpture out of steel and added propane elements to the finished project, which will be on display at the 2021 event.

Not only did the group produce a collaborative work of art including flame effects, but also separate welded sculptures for themselves. Fiery Fluffy was the name given the team creation. The students tossed their name into a hat to give all a fair chance to win the group created flaming art installation, and 13 year-old Sebastian Santa Ana was the winner.

About the instructor
Dan Gundrum of Home Technology Group and Pivotal Effects taught the two-day class. Dan, a member of Deep Creek Experimental explains his craft in this way, “I look at the world and what inspires art. It stems from my impulsive desire to observe life from a different perspective. When something can be influenced in that altered perspective, art happens. That influence can be something as simple as clicking the shutter or making that grind. Pushing the boundaries of that influence makes something entirely new. Something that can transport the viewer into that altered perspective.” Says Dan, “I love teaching this class for the Festival. The reward is seeing the smiles and creativity”.

Student program was a resounding success!

Two weekends ago five Coldharbour Institute students met with seven students from the San Luis Valley and San Miguel County and went to an abandoned cave in Telluride and made art and science and alliances.

The program was a resounding success!  It was an opportunity for the kids to discover how they can operate in any environment, and learn any skill…beautifully.  Carlos Lerma is their first Coldharbour Youth Development Initiative (CYDI) student ambassador.  Maria and Veronica are two students being brought into the program.  Christian Arel is an MEM/Vista student whose project is developing the CYDI program.  “Max, my kid, started the whole crazy gig last year by meeting and falling in love with Erin Ries, TFF Executive Director and amazing soul,” says Suzanne Ewy, Executive Director of Coldharbour Institute.

“Connecting Gunnison and WSCU’s MEM, Art, etc., with Telluride makes all kinds of great sense.  They have so many of the same issues going on around art, cold weather, high altitude sustainability, agriculture and food, remoteness, need for higher education, and bursting creativity, that working together is a no-brainer. Come join us in January for the Fire Festival, January 20 – 22 – it’s magical.  We’ll have the kids’ sculpture up and running – it’s going to be fabulous.  Not quite green, but lots of sustainability in every other arena for these kiddos,”  ” continues Ewy.

If you miss the Festival, we’ll be bringing the sculpture to Gunnison and the San Luis Valley eventually.