Wearing farmer's overalls and a mischievous smile, Lyle Nichols could easily pass for a fruit farmer in the small agricultural community of Palisade near Grand Junction, Colorado. Only when you visit his home, a converted barn surrounded by an assortment of glass, steel, iron and stone lawn sculptures, do you catch a glimpse of this unpretentious artist, who can turn chunks of sandstone and rusted metal into unusual and often humorous works of art. Several of Nichols' large sculptures can be seen in downtown Grand Junctions "Art on the Corner" project.
This sculpture is called "Harley"
This fish was created by Lyle from Harley Davidson motorcycle mufflers. It was purchased by the Town of Palisade and is displayed in the central park in downtown Palisade. It is one of those pieces that you have to look at up close to appreciate the artistry involved in creating this art piece out of a material that you would never think possible.
Nichols' smaller pieces, such as the carved bowl and spoon that appeared on a cover of Architectural Digest in 1990, as well as in a recent issue, are becoming sought after home accents. Several of his "match-strikers", granite bowls with a rough inner surface for lighting matches, adorn Cher's Aspen home. Arnold Schwarzenegger also owns one. "He smokes cigars, so he has one in his office," Nichols says. A self-taught artist who grew in up in the Colorado Grand Valley, Nichols takes great pleasure in using local materials. He shaped an enormous piece of granite from the Uncompahgre into a countertop for Carlson's Vineyard in Palisade. He recently recycled farm equipment into a life-size horse for a Palisade family. Nichols' marketing strategies are as low-key as the man himself. "I let one of my neighbor kids sell peaches in my yard one year. A couple stopped and bought $3 worth of peaches and $6,000 yard sculpture."