Click photo to enlarge
Cody Keetch's "Metal Mulley" won the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board's People's Choice Award. The work will be purchased and put on display in Coalville's outdoor gallery. (Photo courtesy of the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board)

The votes have been tallied and Coalville-based metal sculptor Cody Keetch's work, "Metal Mulley" has won the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board's People's Choice Award.

Summit County residents selected Keetch's work through online and paper ballot votes.

That means the artwork, which depicts a monster buck made from welded and hammered pieces of scrap metal, will be purchased by Coalville City to place on display at the Summit County Public Art Artscape outdoor gallery.

In addition, Keetch will receive $2,500.

"This is all pretty new to me," Keetch said during an interview with The Park Record. "Most of the work I do is all kind of structural, like handrails and stuff. I just jumped into this and gave it a try."

Keetch, who owns KeetchCo Custom Metalworks, submitted an application for this year's contest on a whim.

"I learned about the competition when someone gave me a heads up the day before they were going to finish taking applications," Keetch said "I put one in and they accepted it."

Keetch created "Metal Mulley" while he was between contract jobs.

"I worked on it off and on for one winter and would go and throw one or two pieces on here and there," he said. "I just used scrap metal from other jobs I had done. I figured I would make something out of the remaining pieces and this is what I came up with."

The inspiration came from a set of antlers Keetch found one day.

"They had been shed by a buck, and I and took them to a taxidermist to see how much it would cost to mount them," Keetch said. "I found it out would cost about $1,000. So I decided to build my own replica of the horns I had, and I made a metal deer that mimicked a real one."

Throughout his life, Keetch enjoyed drawing and art, but didn't pursue those hobbies because they didn't make money, he said with a laugh.

"I did buy a plasma cutter and kept drawing things on metal," he said. "I started cutting out images of animals and things like that, and that's what kept me drawing."

He became a metalworker because of his father and grandfather.

"They were both welders," Keetch said. "Against their will, I took up the same occupation, so I guess it's in my blood.

"They didn't do much with the art side of metal working, but I broke off and began doing art on the side," he said. "I do a wide range of things from regular structural hand rails to decorative pieces and wall sconces. I have so much stuff in my shop that I don't have much room to store anything."

Keetch said he hopes the recognition will help his business.

"It's a great advertising tool to have my name on it, and I'm hoping it will get more work to come my way," he said.

For more information about the Summit County Public Art Advisory Board, visit www.summitcounty.org/publicart/artscape.php.