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Moab, UT

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    Memorial sculpture is donated to city

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    Michael Ford Dunton’s sculpture awaits unveiling near its permanent site by the Mill Creek Parkway. Photo by Charles Bruce

    A large sculpture by Castle Valley artist Micheal Ford Dunton honoring the life of the late Tyler Palmer will be unveiled during a private ceremony June 5 in downtown Moab. While COVID-19 has prompted a closed event, it will be streamed on Facebook Live.

    The art is being donated by Palmer’s widow, Wendy Palmer, as a memoriam to him following his 2019 death following a car accident.

    “When Tyler died,” Palmer said, “a bright beautiful part of our world disappeared. He was an inspiration for countless people on how to live a clean, authentic life of adventure. I felt a need to memorialize the impact and magnificence of Tyler’s life through adding a piece of beauty to our community. I am so grateful for the love and work that Michael Ford Dunton put into this absolutely outstanding work of art.”

    Dunton said of the work, “This has been an incredibly rewarding project for me. The baseline of meaning and emotion to start from, and knowing it will be a forever piece in Moab required me to dig deep and push the boundaries of my artistic process. This is such a significant gift of love that Wendy and Tyler’s family are sharing with the community and it has been an honor for me to have been invited to be a part of it.” Tyler Palmer was 33 years old. 

    The welded steel and carved Colorado Yule marble piece is 10 feet tall and is set in a large native sandstone boulder that has solar-powered lighting to gently illuminate the stone from within. A bench, which houses the solar panels, is included for viewers.

    Public art in Moab has become a staple of the area, said Christy Williams Dunton, Micheal’s wife,  part due to public-private partnerships cultivated over the last decade, notably through Moab ArTTrails, a nonprofit public arts program the couple founded. While this work is not associated with the annually rotating sculpture program, it will be part of the permanent public collection of art for the community and its visitors.

    Moab City Mayor Emily Neihaus spoke about the meaningful contribution by adding, “I am deeply inspired by this collaboration. Dunton’s medium of curved steel and soft stone paired with the celebration of Tyler’s life is a physical representation of the strength and weight of his memory. I am grateful to Wendy for her gift to the Moab community in honoring Tyler and creating space for us all to pause and hold tight the ones we love.”

    The dedication, unveiling and memorial ceremony will occur at 8 p.m. June 5 at the installation site on First West near the Millcreek Parkway. Due to current health department limits on the size of gatherings to 20 people, the small, in-person gathering will be private. People are invited to tune in live at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/3044839618892956.

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