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The people of Brighton voted, and the People’s Choice award went to the “Dancing Flame” sculpture in Carmichael Park, sculpted by artist Jerry Jaramillo.

“I was hoping to get it- but you have to think positive. When (Brighton Arts and Culture Coordinator) David Gallegos called me, I was excited to get the People’s Choice award and chosen first place,” said Jaramillo.

Jaramillo started creating mixed media art when he was in fifth grade before he even knew what was mixed media, 2D and 3D art were. His first piece of art was when the school was having a contest drawing firemen and fire trucks. The winner got the opportunity to ride on the fire truck.

“I was using a technique by putting the colors down and using an eraser blending the colors. Then I got Popsicle sticks, burned them and glued them into the background of my drawing,” said Jaramillo. “At that time, I wanted to be a fireman. I thought I could be a fireman if I did this good,” he said humorously.

Jaramillo created the drawing into 2D and also 3D and won the contest and rode on top of the firetruck.

When Jaramillo was in sixth grade, he learned sculpting. His neighbor gave him a shot put from the junior high school. As his little brother was playing with his Tonka Toys and his Army men, Jaramillo started to throw the shot put at his toys.

“My mom got home early from work and saw me throwing the shot put at my brother’s toys, and she said, ‘That’s it. I’m not going to buy you no more toys ‘cause you will break them,’” said Jaramillo. “She said, ‘I have to make my toys like my uncle Frank.’ He would find stuff in the alleys and make toys.”

Jaramillo said in those days, people threw junk in the alleys. People couldn’t pick the stuff from the yard but could from the alleys.

“So I started making art out of different things and can make bikes look real nice,” he said.

Jaramillo’s friend had a collection of model cars. They took the model cars across the street to the elementary school and used Black Cat firecrackers to blow the tops off of them, then build the cars back together with both Chevy and Ford model car parts.

“We would add an Oldsmobile top on a ‘57 Chevy and glued it together. We did it with all the other cars. This guy from the body shop gave us a little bit of Bondo. It made them real seamless because the glue made them look bad. We made some nice-looking cars. I don’t destroy things anymore. I create things now,” Jaramillo said jokingly.

Jaramillo was born in Brighton and graduated from Brighton High School in 1970. He went to the University of Colorado-Boulder working as an artist in resident at the university for four years until he graduated. It’s a program that fosters creative and professional growth for emerging and established artists.

“My first commission was in 1974 for the city of Brighton. It was a mural at Brighton’s Montoya Park. It’s been painted over since then,” said Jaramillo.

He is has created art with more than 25 years of experience in mixed media, jewelry, sculptor and painting. He also creates large murals and paints small paintings. He works in 2D and 3D and uses acrylics for outdoor murals. Jaramillo has done mixed media works for private and public interest in Colorado, Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Washington and Mexico.

The “Dancing Flame” sculpture was made with steel rods formed into more than 300 little triangles.

“I had leftover steel rods from a previous sculpture in Commerce Cit. So my son, Jay Michael, says, ‘Since we have been bending these others rods, let’s see what we come up with,’” said Jaramillo. “Then we went to a scrap metal place and bought about 300 little triangles about 4 inches, different sizes.”

“I have been his apprentice my whole life,” said Jay Michael Jaramillo.

The bottom of the sculpture is a drum of a big truck that Jaramillo found eight years ago that just happened to be in his yard. The gathering of the different metals was the inspiration for the dancing flame.

The Dancing Flame sculpture is on loan to the city of Brighton and is part of the city’s Eye for Art Program established in 2011. It offers opportunities for sculpture artists to exhibit their larger-scale artwork in a park setting for one year on display for public sale. Its project features up to six professional artists at Carmichael Park’s outdoor galley. The winning artists receive a $1,000 cash award.

Every year Brighton citizens vote for their favorite sculpture in the People’s Choice Award contest. The piece selected will become part of the city of Brighton’s permanent art collection and will be relocated to a permanent location within the city for public display.

For the future

Jaramillo will continue to work in different mixed media. He also has friends that are welders to help with some of his sculptures.

“I’m not a welder, but I could do some tack work in places. These guys are professionals. I’m trying to get other people involved, along with my son. Eric Lopez is a young guy who is another one of my apprentices and is a welder,” said Jaramillo.

To view Jerry Jaramillo’s work visit: http://jerryjaramillo.net/ or go to Carmichael Park and visit “Dancing Flame.”