News and Announcements


Posted on: September 19, 2023

New public artwork honoring Cosmic Ray, Basque sheepherding history

The City of Flagstaff announces the completion of its newest Beautification in Action grant project—a mural by local artist Joel Geist located at the Cosmic Ray Tunnel on the Sheep Crossing Trail.

Geist, of Red Frog Designs, was awarded the grant last spring to design and paint a mural in the newly renamed tunnel. Once a utilitarian underpass, the tunnel is now a vibrant space of creative expression that connects the Ponderosa Trails neighborhood and Fort Tuthill County Park beneath Interstate 17. It is part of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System. Geist’s artworks honor Flagstaff’s pioneering mountain biker and writer Cosmic Ray (Raymond J. Brutti) and the area’s Basque sheepherding history.

“We are thrilled to provide local artists a creative outlet while enlivening our city through art and beautification projects,” says Jana Weldon, Program Manager for Beautification, Arts and Sciences. “I so appreciate Joel’s vision to complete this community supported and community-initiated project.”

The mural includes artworks at each entrance. The east entry features a brightly painted landscape of ponderosa pines and a cloud-filled sky. Graphically rendered sheep within a meadow of green grass, watched over by their shepherd, complete the summer scene. The imagery is dedicated to the achievements and contributions of Basque sheepherders and the trail’s immediate past. Constructed in 1960, it was originally used to transport the animals across the interstate. 

At the west entrance, Brutti is depicted in silhouette, peddling against a setting sun comprised of red and yellow rays. The words “So Rolls On…on our Cosmic Ray” frame Brutti and a detail of the cosmos radiates from the center of his body. Sheep in shades of green and yellow are visible to the left of Brutti’s figure, trailing and then ultimately becoming indistinct from the background as they move from left to right, creating a dynamic motion blur effect. Geist worked with Brutti’s wife Marcia Wiesner and friend and cycling partner Teo Melis to ensure the artwork captures Brutti’s adventurous spirit and preserves his legacy for future generations of biking and hiking enthusiasts.  

The artworks are connected by an undulating horizontal line that spans the 300-foot tunnel to create one unified mural. Planned interpretive plaques, located at each entrance, will also integrate the imagery. Using the icons of the sheep and bike, Geist showcases the “evolution from the past through the present and on to the future,” he says. “The Basque farmers with a herd of sheep at one end and Cosmic Ray leading a herd of cyclists on the other,” he adds. 

Brutti’s family and friends will celebrate the mural’s completion at an informal gathering later his year. For related questions, please contact City of Flagstaff Art Collections and Beautification Coordinator Cristen Crujido at


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