Ernesto finds forever home |

Ernesto finds forever home

"Ernesto," a bison made of metal and wood by James Burnes of New Mexico, will remain in Carbondale permanently.
Courtesy Photo / Post Independent File |

“Ernesto,” the magnificent buffalo that has kept watch over Main Street for the past year, will remain in Carbondale, welcoming everyone to town as he resides permanently on Highway 133.

“Ernesto” was voted Best of Show in the Carbondale Public Arts Commission, Art aRound Town 2014 exhibition. The sculptures in each year’s exhibition generally remain on view for one year; then, they are rotated out to make way for the new exhibit.

However, when learning that he would be leaving this June, a very generous community member and art aficionado offered to purchase the sculpture and donate it to the town of Carbondale.

“Ernesto” stands 96-by-116 inches, is constructed from COR-TEN steel and locust wood and was created by Santa Fe artist Jamie Burnes. Burnes was born in Boston, received his bachelor of science degree and graduated Cum Laude for studio art from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He has received numerous awards, and his work can be found in multiple public arts exhibits and permanent collections around the country.

“I am honored with the opportunity to share ‘Ernesto’ with the Carbondale community and its many visitors,” Burnes said. “I believe that having public art in our neighborhoods is one of the greatest things that we as artists can do. My primary goal as an artist is to create works that people enjoy and want to have as part of their daily life.”

CPAC was formed as a Town Commission in 2000 to bring public visual arts to Carbondale for the enhancement of the community and to create cultural interest for residents and visitors. Its first project was to initiate Art aRound Town in 2002 to bring sculpture to the downtown core. Since its inception, the program has grown from five sculptures chosen from among 12 local applicants to as many as 90 applicants from around the country with selected work installed in 15 locations around town. The sculptures are loaned for one year based on a very small stipend to the artist, testimony to the interest in and popularity of Carbondale. Over the past 13 years, 190 works of art have graced town streets. Visitors and residents of all ages engage with the sculptures, initiating vibrant conversations as they exchange ideas and opinions on art. As the commission members select the sculptures, they take into account the artists’ complete body of work, design and execution of the proposed piece, safety, maintenance needs, and the balance of the yearly exhibition. Their goal is to provide a wide range of work — fun, whimsical, interactive and thought-provoking.

Since 2002, 25 sculptures have been purchased or donated — four by individuals for their private collections, six purchased by individuals and donated to Carbondale for the town’s permanent collection, 10 contributed by artists to the permanent collection and five purchased by the Commission for the permanent collection. Commission funds to purchase future sculptures are received through donations, sales commissions and the 1 percent fund which receives 1 percent of town capital improvement projects.

Art aRound Town is made possible by the town of Carbondale, especially its trustees, administrative staff and Public Works department, as well as annual contributions.

It is with deep gratitude to Carbondale’s anonymous and gracious donor that the community welcomes “Ernesto” to his new and permanent home on Highway 133, welcoming residents and tourists alike for years to come.

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