Invasion of the Art Bugs |

Invasion of the Art Bugs

Story Carrie ClickPhotos Jim Noelker

If Bill Morrow has his way, Rifle is about to be invaded by bugs. But don’t worry – it’s all for a good cause. “I’m hoping to start a movement,” Morrow said with a smile.These aren’t just any bugs. Morrow, 57, is in the midst of making dozens and dozens of Art Bugs, little metal bug sculptures – ladybugs, ants and spiders, to be precise. The acclaimed metal artist affixes the bugs, which measure about six inches long, to square wood bases signed by the artist. Beginning April 1, these little guys will be sold at $25 a pop throughout Rifle. Sales benefit the Bookcliffs Council on the Arts and Humanities.Morrow hopes the bugs will take off, so to speak.”You’ll be able to remove them from their wooden bases and attach them to your front door if you want,” he said. “And if you return the wooden base to us, we’ll give you $10 off your membership to the arts council. I’m hoping we’ll have bug sightings all over the place.”Linda Hunter, a six-year member of the arts council board and a longtime Rifle resident, is excited about the Art Bug fundraiser.”It’s such a cute concept,” she said. “Those bugs are just adorable, and they’re a real great way to show support for our community.”Buying the farmBookcliffs’ Art Bug fundraiser has some lofty goals, but none that seem out of reach to Morrow. The welder-turned-metal-artist officially joined up with the arts council a year ago when the five-acre family homestead where his parents were living on the outskirts of Rifle went on the market for $275,000.”My parents were getting too elderly to live in the house and manage the place,” said Morrow, who was born in Aspen and grew up at the Rifle farm. “I just couldn’t bear to see the place sold and subdivided into tract housing. I wanted to see it left for the public, as open space for the community’s use as an art park.” Morrow contacted the members of Rifle’s arts council, and together, they agreed to pursue the public art park idea.After Morrow joined with the arts council, he contact two of his Aspen metal art clients. He asked them if they’d be interested in helping him with the art park dream.”One client said he’d go in for half,” he said, “but insisted his gift remain anonymous. Then I met with another client, and he said he’d go home and shake his piggy bank. A little while later, I got a check in the mail for $100,000. That donation also was also anonymous.”Morrow’s mother is carrying the note on the remaining $40,000, so the council’s future is looking mighty bright. And there’s more good news: Rifle developer John Savage donated a house adjoining the Morrow property. Morrow has already started the process of turning the property into a head-turning art extravaganza. His sculptures include his giant “Insane-i-cycle” motorcycle-like sculpture, made partly from an International Harvester diesel tractor, and his enormous wind chimes made of scrap metal. There’s metal fencing made from stainless panels from the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. A goofy sculpture Morrow named “Wind Lilies” – made from old couch springs and light reflectors – bobs in the breeze.He gets all the materials for his work from salvage yards, friends and the Pitkin County Landfill.”You can get some really great stuff up in Aspen,” he said, standing in his well-ordered welding shop and looking at his neatly organized piles of old rake and shovel heads, pool railings. Among them, Rifle’s old air raid siren is just waiting to be transformed into sculpture. “You can’t believe what gets thrown away.” Next stepsNow with the property virtually secured, the council is ready to move forward with plans to annex the Morrow property into the city of Rifle. “We’re looking to create a three-acre park, a teaching and learning center for all art forms, a gathering place for artists and community members, and a low-power FM community broadcast access facility,” Morrow said. To kick off the annexation and the planned unit development process, estimated to cost $50,000, the Art Bugs will go on sale at Rifle businesses (see box) beginning April 1. Council board member Linda Hunter thinks Rifle is ready for this community project. “I think people are starting to pay attention to the arts council for the first time in a long time,” she said. “Rifle is a rodeo and a Western town, and now we’re getting into fun stuff, like concerts and a community art center, we’ve never been able to offer before.” get buggedGet the Art Bug in Rifle at:-Action Shop Services – 2412 Access Rd.-Citizen Telegram – 132 E. Third St.-Harrelson Music – 1601 Railroad Ave.-Jean’s Printing – 113 W. Third St. -Micro Plastics – 531 Railroad Ave.-Rifle Lock & Safe – 121 W. Third St.-Spevere Chiropractic – 726 Railroad Ave.-The Corner Store – 840 Railroad Ave.-Valley Lumber – 221 W. Second St. Support the Bookcliffs Council on the Arts & Humanities by purchasing your very own ladybug, ant, spider – or all three! Bugs are $25 each. Call Bill Morrow at 625-1889 for information.

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