Meet Your Neighbor: Jeff Bates forges useful art in Fruita, Colorado
Special to the Free Press
Editor’s note: We want to meet your neighbor. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denise: What is your occupation?
Jeff: I am an artist. I design and make one-of-a-kind metal creations including, metal sculpture art pieces, fences, gates, benches and other furniture, bicycle racks, lighting and other accent pieces. My business is called Sky River Ranch and it is located on 16 Road.
Denise: Do you sell to the public?
Jeff: Yes, I have customers all over the world. I take orders for commission pieces and I also sell ready-made works of all kinds. I find many of my customers through word-of-mouth when they see something I’ve made. I also sell wholesale to dealers, and locally, I work with the City of Fruita.
Denise: Tell me about your benches in Fruita.
Jeff: I’ve created over 30 benches for the City of Fruita, over the past 15 years, each one different, located in a variety of places all over town. Fruita is not a cookie cutter kind of town, and the benches add to the unique character of the place. There are all kinds of benches including the officer and donut bench at the police station, the aspen tree bench facing Circle Park, and the Mercury Blues bench made from a car bumper on Aspen Avenue. There are also some memorial benches, and I work with the families to capture the personality of the person being commemorated. Because I sell artwork to customers all over, I am able to work with the City of Fruita and create one-of-a-kind benches that are competitive in cost with factory-made benches and still make a living. Selling the benches at cost is my way of giving back to this wonderful community. In addition to the benches in Fruita, there are some bicycle racks including the handcuff rack in front of the police station. I also have some artwork in Fruita, and I created the stands that hold the history plaques downtown.
Denise: Do you have a favorite piece?
Jeff: Whatever I am working on at the moment. I have always had an artistic bent. I enjoy my work, both the design side and the act of physical creation. I usually work on several projects at the same time. One project leads to another, and I enjoy them all.
Denise: What do you like about Fruita?
Jeff: Before I moved to Fruita, I lived in Crested Butte. I wanted a good place to raise my son, and I also wanted to live in a warmer climate. Fruita was the right town with the right temperature and the right school system. I also wanted to live in small town where it is easier to become involved and you are not just a number.
Denise Hight is co-author of Images of America: Fruita, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011. She is currently working on another book for Arcadia, Legendary Locals of Fruita, which will be published in 2016. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.