RIFLE, COLO. - Gary Russell is going to drive cattle right down the middle of Rifles roundabouts at the Interstate 70 interchange and Airport Road.But it won't be the kind of cattle drive you normally see in this neck of the woods. Russell, owner of The Iron Gallery just west of Rifle on U.S. Highway 6&24, was commissioned by the city to create iron sculptures of a cattle drive to adorn the center of the roundabouts.The city was presented with several choices from architects for a landscape design and chose the cattle drive theme because "cattle are a part of the heritage of our community," as Mayor Keith Lambert explained.Using a hand-held flame cutting torch, Russell has been busy working on the statues of two cowboys and one cowgirl, each on horseback, along with some dogs and cattle."I figured that if you're going to have two cowboys, you'd better have a cowgirl, too," Russell said, with a smile. "And I'm no cowboy, but I've been around it all my life. They don't go anywhere without their dogs, so you better have some Blue Heelers in there."He anticipates that some real cowboys will drive through the roundabouts and scrutinize the work, so he's done his homework and asked for advice from some of the ranchers and cowboys he knows to ensure it's realistic."Im also going to use some old brands from this area on the cows and calves," he said. "I think it would be really cool if people could drive by and say, 'hey, that's my grandpa's brand'!"The sculptures are expected to be in place around the end of March or early April and Russell will erect them one by one in the roundabouts.Russell makes a variety of handmade iron art such as coat racks, hooks, sculptures, lighting, tables and mirrors, along with fireplace and bathroom accessories.He has been in business since 1976 and is known to his peers as one of the best "cutters" in the country, an almost extinct art form. Russell said his expertise is in his ability to control the heat on his torch, which produces a variety of colors on his pieces.
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