First Rio Grande ArtWay installation is unveiled |

First Rio Grande ArtWay installation is unveiled

Carla Jean Whitley
Harry, Zachary and Toni DeMeo gather on the Ascendigo Autism Services mosaic bench after its dedication Wednesday. A second, similar bench is outside Ascendigo's nearby office and is dedicated to the memory of Zachary's older brother, Alex. Alex is the family member who learned about Ascendigo's services and pointed his brother, a participant, to the organization.
Carla Jean Whitley / Post Independent |

Two years of plans and dreams led to Wednesday’s first installation on the Rio Grande ArtWay. And the piece, a mosaic bench, isn’t just art, nor is it merely a place to sit. It’s also the result of collaboration between community entities, residents and visitors.

Ascendigo Autism Services, Scavenger Industries, Carbondale Arts and Roaring Fork Transit Authority, which manages the 42-mile Rio Grande Trail, united to make the project a reality.

During this summer’s Mountain Fair, Ascendigo hosted a kids’ area booth where visitors could grout pieces of tile to the bench. Scavenger Industries worked with Ascendigo participants to create the tiles before the event, and then the artists completed the bench. Its base is repurposed railing.

“This project and this partnership … is really the ideal picture of what we’re trying to create at Scavenger Industries, which is community building through art and particularly by reclaiming materials and keeping some stuff out of the landfill, give it a new life in an art project,” Scavenger Industries’ Olivia Pevec said during the dedication ceremony.

The ArtWay will stretch one mile along the Rio Grande Trail in Carbondale, from Snowmass Drive and Main Street to the trail’s intersection with Colorado 133. The effort is an example of creative placemaking, which uses art to serve a community, reflect its identity and drive change.

“People are going to want to come down here, and they’re going to discover the people and what matters to us in this community as they travel through the ArtWay,” said Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly.

A second bench sits outside Ascendigo’s office, about 50 yards from the ArtWay bench. It’s dedicated to the memory of Alex DeMeo, whose younger brother Zachary DeMeo is an Ascendigo participant. Alex spurred on his brother’s relationship with Ascendigo; he is the one who first learned about the organization’s Extreme Sports Camp. The younger DeMeo is now a Carbondale resident and working toward independent living.

President and CEO Peter Bell said of the ArtWay bench, “This was just a very small way of us giving back to the Carbondale community and showing our appreciation for welcoming us in the way that they have.”

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