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Cattle brand art sculpture in Mancos approved for funding

Artists Marilyn Kroeker and metalsmith Steve Williams have teamed up to create a permanent art exhibit in Mancos that showcases local livestock brands and Western culture. (Courtesy photo)
Brands come from Mancos Valley ranchers; project fits well into Mancos slogan ‘Where the West Still Lives’

A Western art installation in Mancos will highlight cattle brands in the Mancos Valley, historic metalwork and stylized horses.

The Mancos Valley Brand Project is a collaboration between organizer Marianne Griffin, artist Marilyn Kroeker of Raven House Gallery, metalsmith Steve Williams of the Cowboy Forge, the town of Mancos, and the Mancos Creative District.

On Wednesday, the Mancos Town Board approved $3,000 in grant funding for the $6,500 project.

The William A. Griffin family is also a sponsor and is conducting fundraising to cover the final costs. During the presentation at town board, an audience member donated $500 toward the project.

The two-sided, 8-foot high exhibit will feature 40 tiles, each depicting a cattle brand from the Mancos Valley.

This art exhibit showcasing the cattle brands and horses of ranching life is being created by local artists and will be displayed in a Mancos park next summer. (Courtesy Marianne Griffin)

Two panels will showcase Kroeker’s patterned, copper-and-enamel horse designs that evoke a shimmering patina depicting movement. The sculpture will also include a history panel about branding and its importance to ranching.

The intent is to highlight the cowboy culture of the area and pay respect to the disappearing art of cattle brands, Kroeker said in an interview.

“Branding is going by the wayside with new technology to track and mark cattle,” she said. “This art project is a moment in time to preserve the brand tradition and Western heritage in general.”

The project’s structure built by Williams is a tribute to creative metalwork and forging.

Project organizer Marianne Griffin said the brand memorial evolved from her idea to create yard art with her family ranching brand from the Westcliffe area.

As the concept was discussed, it became clear that the history and designs of local brands in the Mancos Valley was a good topic for a larger art project.

“Western art can sometimes be dismissed because of its utilitarian appearance,” Griffin said Tuesday. “But that is precisely what makes it so stunningly beautiful and unique.”

Consider, for instance, the carved designs on a rancher’s old rifle stock, knife handle or leather holster.

The various brands also carry an artistic designs, she said, and required forging skills to create.

“We cherish that old style. They put beauty and pride into day-to-day tools they used. Were not surrounded by that as much anymore,” Griffin says. “I believe Western art unites history, heritage and culture. We’re so excited to acknowledge all that with this public art project.”

The brand and horse art sculpture is scheduled to be compete by June 2023. It will be displayed in the pocket park on Main Street next to the new Town Marshal’s office.

If you want to have your brand included or to make a donation contact Griffin at marianne.griffin@gamail.com.

Applications and information can also be found at Raven House Gallery, Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters, and at Coldwell Banker Realtors.