The Art Alliance of Idyllwild is dedicated to the Arts and Art Education. One of its most ambitious projects is to install public art in Idyllwild and Pine Cove. The project started in 2013, when twenty-three artists painted deer in themes connected to Idyllwild’s rich culture. In June 2018 the Art Alliance will be expanding the herd. The Gathering of the Herd will happen on June 16 at Idyllwild Park.

The deer will be dispersed throughout the town, including in front of businesses, restaurants and in Idyllwild Park. A map will be available to show the locations of each piece of art. The ‘herd’ is purchased with donations from individual sponsors. The participating artists commit to adhere to an assigned theme. The project highlights all that makes Idyllwild a quirky, beautiful and powerful art center.

Donna Elliot is the President of the Art Alliance. “The original herd in 2013 had a great impact in the area. We knew that many missed out on the first project and were keen to sponsor deer to expand the current herd.  We ordered only 13 deer but immediately had to add to the order four times to accommodate all those who wanted to be part of it.  We now have 28 deer and 1 coyote that will grace the town of Idyllwild. For a town of our size, it may be one of the largest public art projects in the country,” said Donna.

What draws an artist to this project?


“I’m a long-time fan of the magical Idyllwild art world,” said participating artist Ulrike. “Being part of a group project, that wasn’t just temporary, but actually will become a part of the environment was really enticing to me.”

Ulrike’s deer, Opal, has her origins in a real life story. “My deer was especially painted for a little girl name Opal. She lost her Dad last year unexpectedly and the Donor wanted a fawn painted in her honor. That’s why I picked a princess theme and wrote a children story to go with it, which will be published before the Big Event in October.”

“The Gathering of the Deer is a community gathering that brings people together. It gives artists the chance to be creative and make their mark in Idyllwild. Art and tourism – benefit for all!” continued Ulrike.  “I hope that my Opal will make Opal and her family happy, and that the viewers see it for what it is: Fawn Opal, Princess of the Magical Idyllwild Forrest.”

Donna and her spouse, Neil Jenkins created one of the original 2013 herd deer.  “Given that we are hikers and rock climbers, it seemed only fitting that we had the theme hiking and climbing.  Idyllwild is renowned for both.  Unfortunately, our deer, Rocky was stolen,” said Neil. “We painted Rocky II which is in front of La Casita Mexican Restaurant.”

For this gathering Neil is painting a deer that features the Mayors of Idyllwild. These very special animals are dogs that bring great joy to the area. “It is the only deer in town that will feature four golden retrievers. I had never painted a dog portrait in my life, this is a bonus!” continued Neil. “This deer will feature our current Mayor Max, Deputy Mayor Mitzi and Deputy Mayor Mikey. It will have the late Mayor Max, the First, on the other side, together with Pookie, a rescue dog that was dear to sponsors Phyllis Mueller and Glenn Warren. It seemed a great way to honor all that the Mayors do for Idyllwild.  This buck will be placed at the Animal Rescue Friends (ARF) premises in Idyllwild.”

The public is invited to see the new herd at the Herd Gathering on Saturday, June 16, 2018 from Noon until 3pm at the Courtyard Gallery, 54240 Ridgeview Drive.  It is the only time this herd will be together before being placed at their new homes.   For more information visit