The fourth Sunday of each month, Journal Arts Editor Adrian Gomez tells the stories behind some of the hidden gems you can see across the state in “Gimme Five.”
September is approaching fast.
The end to summer is near, yet there’s always time to take in some public art during a road trip.
The state of New Mexico’s public art collection continues to each year – filling every corner of the state.
Meredith Doborski, New Mexico Arts Public Art Program director, says New Mexico Arts is the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, which provides financial support for arts services and programs to non-profit organizations statewide and to administer the 1% public art program for the state of New Mexico.
Dobroski picked five recently installed pieces in Socorro, Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Radium Springs and Silver City.
1. “The Poetry of Geology” by Joseph Bellacera.
Installed at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources building in Socorro in April.
Doborski says the installation is a multi-paneled artwork consisting of two wall reliefs installed twenty feet off the floor on facing walls in the three-story light-filled atrium lobby.
“The intention of this dynamic design is to activate the architectural space echoing the active forces at play in the earth and to celebrate the knowledge and research that the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and New Mexico Tech provides for the state,” Doborski says. “The wall reliefs include reference to: cartography, volcanic activity, minerals, geologic history, topography, geohydrology, energy resources, geological landmarks, fault lines, strata and rock formations of New Mexico.”
2. “Luminaria” by Gordon Huether.
Installed outside the Steve Schiff District Attorney Building in Downtown Albuquerque in Aug. 2021.
Doborski says the purpose of this commission was to create a nontraditional memorial that would provide a contemplative, healing and uplifting space for victims and families dealing with the trauma of gun violence.
This installation was ultimately inspired by three factors: cultural traditions from the local Hispanic community, the surrounding natural landscape, and a reoccurring theme Gordon found while researching memorials that reference gun violence or other violent tragedies – something Gordon refers to as “pop-up memorials.”
“The affected community congregates and places things at the scene of the tragedy such as flowers, candles, teddy bears, flags, balloons, drawings and personal messages,” she says. ” ‘Luminaria,’ titled to reference a significant tradition in New Mexico: brown paper bags with cut out patterns, weighted down by sand and illuminated by candles from within, consists of three different-sized sculptures accompanied by three cylindrical concrete seating components, placed among the sculptures to offer a space for seated contemplation and reflection.”
3. “Simplicity” by Deborah Jojola.
Installed at Coronado Historic Site (Kuaua Ancestral Land) in Bernalillo in April 2021. Artist Deborah Jojola says polychrome pigments on earthen plaster have a unique flow of design elements that relate to a place of her ancestral beings.
“This place is powerful and carries many past symbolisms with stories of Resilience, Spirituality, and Reconciliation,” Jojola says. ” ‘Simplicity’ is not as it seems; our struggles are real and still exist today. We reach back for guidance with prayers and offerings with the breath of Life, in hopes Our children will carry on, practice and understand for a better future.”
Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo are located just minutes north of Albuquerque (off of I-25, Exit 242) in Bernalillo.
“Coronado Historic Site offers ramada-covered picnic tables with magnificent views of the Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains,” Doborski says. “Enjoy the history and beauty of northern New Mexico on your next visit.”
4. “Desert Rabbit” by Sean Rising Sun Flanagan.
Installed at Fort Selden Historic Site in Radium Springs in Dec. 2021.
Doborski says Rising Sun Flanagan is a Native American artist and traditional drum maker from Taos Pueblo.
Known for painted drums and stylized sculptures, he draws inspiration from the traditional images of his native roots, with a design style that unites deep tradition with the contemporary.
She says his work has a strong balance that is geometrical and organic.
“Today, ghostly adobe ruins are all that remain of Fort Selden offering visitors a glimpse of another time,” Doborski says. “The visitor center offers exhibits on frontier and military life and showcases historic military artifacts and photos.”
5. “Interlocking Horizons” by Jennyfer Stratman.
Installed at Western New Mexico University in Silver City in Aug. 2021.
Doborski says this installation depicts vine-like steel rods growing up from two richly patinated bases.
“Atop the vines grow bronze figures, suggesting foliage. The different lengths of the vines can be interpreted as each individual’s stages of growth on their own ‘horizons,’ ” she says. “The undulation of the figures can also be viewed as the contour of distant landscapes. The intersecting ‘landscapes’ suggest a pairing of two worlds.”