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4523 State Highway 14, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505, United States

A 35 foot tall polar bear made from car hoods.

Our Vision

DKLA Design is owned by Don Kennell and Lisa Adler and operates Don's Big Art.

Who We Are

 DKLA Design drafts, fabricates and delivers one-of-a kind monumental sculptures. We are inspired by nature to create unique interactive experiences for the public. Owners, Don Kennell and Lisa Adler have been collaborators for many years.  They met in graduate school at Rutgers University, he in art, she in political science. Their  first art collaboration was an art car commissioned by “Art Matters” of New York City in 1995.  DKLA Design was incorporated in 2015. Don drafts the designs and leads the fabrication crew. Lisa focuses on community engagement. Our designs draw people in, to develop a relationship that connects the viewer to the place and the art becomes a part of a person’s life.

Our Mission

 We combine content and joy to bring something of beauty into the world that resonates with the viewer. We use recycled materials to represent a sustainable ethic and promote a higher consciousness about the connection between humans and the natural world. The image and the materials transport the viewer to a different time and place. 

Don Kennell welding artist metalworker long view polar bear burning man

This Project

 We are building a polar bear out of car hoods to show the connection between carbon footprint and habitat loss. We are creating an icon to fight global warming. This ambassador from the Arctic will tour the country to bring the public out. A 35-foot polar bear will inspire people with common concerns to share a common experience. We will partner with local groups where the sculpture is installed to share information about practical solutions for reducing carbon footprint. At night, images of ice, water and sea life are projected on to the sculpture adding to the emotional impact of the artwork. Animals disappear to make room for our cars. Turning wrecked cars into monumental animals visually reverses this process. 

DKLA Design Crew

Zach Greer artist metalworker dkla design

Zach Greer

 Zach Greer hails from the Windy City. He came to Santa Fe in the early 2000’s, earning a degree at the College of Santa Fe in Documentary Studies. His favorite part of being a documentarian is connecting with people from different cultures. To complete his degree, he travelled to Sebastian Salgado’s Instituto Terra in Brazil. Zach spent two summers on a firefighting crew for the US Forest Service in Big Fork, MT. He likes when things are wild. Lucky for us, he decided to become a metal worker. Zach has been with us from the beginning and has earned the title of DKLA Design’s Badassery Specialist. Zach is the motivational guru on crew and a hiker extraordinaire. “I like to see the Earth from the top,” says Zach. He drives a car called, “Champ.” When you see it, you’ll know why. 

Caleb Smith artist metalworker dkla design

Caleb Smith

 Caleb Smith likes things hot. From being a baker to a glassblower to a blacksmith, he is DKLA Design’s Thermal Officer and Ignition Technician. Born in Florida, he first moved to Santa Fe as a teenager. He learned to bake at The Range Café in Bernalillo. Eating cookies is his favorite thing about baking. Caleb studied sculpture and woodworking at the Santa Fe Community College and apprenticed with master blacksmith, Helmut Hillenkamp. Caleb’s attraction to heat comes from how it transforms materials. He loves to use heat to make unyielding steel soft like butter. Process is his guiding light. His conversation with materials is reflected in his artwork, “Root Balls,” an archeological experience using the bottom of downed trees and a lathe to reveal what had never before seen the light of day. On the crew, Caleb’s dulcet tones contrast with the pounding metal endemic to the shop.  

Miguel Lucio, artist and welder at DKLA Design.

Miguel Lucio

 Miguel Lucio grew up in Texas with a family of designers and architects. In 2016, Miguel graduated from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design with a BFA in Studio Art. At school, Miguel stood out as a student interested in functionality. His emphasis on ceramics and woodworking resulted in tables, vessels and plates that embrace traditional questions of form and minimalist design. Miguel’s artwork can be found at Reside Home, in Santa Fe. Since Miguel lays down some wicked beads (of molten metal), he is DKLA Design’s Boss of Beads. Miguel is also our Head Spelunker of animal interiors following an anatomical journey into the recesses and tight spaces of our most extraordinary creations. Miguel is always drawing. Always. Drawing. 

Burning Man Crew

Joel Sisson

Joel Sisson artist metalworker dkla design

Joel is an artist, set producer and fabricator who has hopped on many monumental art projects with DKLA Design. Based out of Minneapolis, he has led a variety of public art projects that have a community focus. The Green Chair Project, which he co-founded in 1991 built 90 Adirondack chairs with local teenagers to distribute to residents along Pleasant Ave was inspired after his lawn chairs were stolen. Several monumental versions of the Green Chair Project are on public display.

Owen William Fritts

Owen William Fritts artist burning man crew dkla design

 Owen spent the past three decades designing, fabricating and overseeing the creation of modern art, architecture, interiors, objects, and unique experiences for public, corporate and private clients. His product design firm Solidcore provides zero carbon, considered design items for modern buildings. In 2008, as a service to communities and a philanthropic endeavor, he launched the Earthaware Arts Foundation and education system. Earthaware programs for children and adults have been run around the planet in 23 countries. 

Elizabeth Hellstern

Elizabeth Hellstern writer artist burning man crew dkla design

Elizabeth Hellstern is a writer and artist who lives off-grid on 44 acres in Cerrillos, NM. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. Her multi-genre writing work has appeared in Hotel Amerika, North Dakota Quarterly, Slag Glass City, Queen Mob’s Tea House, The Tusculum Review and New World Writing. Hellstern is the creator of the public art installation the Telepoem Booth, where members of the public can dial-a-poem on a rotary phone in a 1970s phone booth. 

Chris Beran

Chris Beran  projection artist burning man crew dkla design meow wolf

Chris Beran graduated from the Arts & Communication Magnet Academy in Beaverton, OR in 2011. He travelled for a while before settling in Santa Fe to attend the Santa Fe University of Art and Design where he studied photography and projection based media. He currently holds a position creating immersive art experiences for Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. 


Diane Drew

Diane Drew Impact Sales & Marketing Investor DKLA Design

Diane Drew is a business owner, a world traveller and an avid outdoors enthusiast. As the owner of Impact Sales & Marketing based in Wimberley, TX, she helps people who need each other, find each other.  She is an adventurer who loves to visit new cultures in order to look at things from a fresh perspective. She is active in her local community promoting a number of environmental and educational causes. An avid art collector, Diane has been a long time supporter of DKLA Design.  Diane loves to spend time outdoors and with her family which includes two grown sons and three grandchildren.

Michael Schippling

Michael Schippling artist santa fe Investor DKLA Design

Michael Schippling is an artist whose work: written, pasted, welded, photographed, machined, and digi­tized, has been published and exhibited throughout the country. He has an Aesthetic Studies degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he studied photography and theater; and later, taught the introductory and advanced Electronic Music seminars. He taught the Machine Shop for Artists class at the Crucible in Berkeley, was a systems software engineer in Oakland, and a robotics researcher at the Santa Fe Institute

Javier & Cindy Lucio

Cindy Lucio Javier Lucio design team Investor DKLA Design

Javier & Cindy Lucio are team of designers. Cindy studied art and education, earning a Masters degree from Suffolk University in Boston. Javier is an Architect who earned his degree at Harvard. He joined the award winning firm of RPGA Design in 1995. Javier's  practice focuses on civic buildings. Cindy is the current executive chef and owner of the Texas White House Bed and Breakfast in Fort Worth, and the owner-operator of World Cafe Catering.