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Santa Fe board rejects Burro Alley mural

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Santa Fe\’s Historic Districts review board voted against allowing installation of this mural designed by Gabriel Brooks in Burro Alley, The mural would have been made of vinyl attached to aluminum composite. (From city documents)

SANTA FE – A proposed 8-by-4-foot wall mural on a wall in Santa Fe’s storied, one-block Burro Alley has been rejected by the city’s Historic Districts Review Board.

A majority of board members decided Tuesday night that the proposed artwork — a printed vinyl image of seven burros in front of a saloon, which would have been adhered to aluminum composite — would appear too modern or shiny. The board’s staff had recommended approval.

The vote against the mural was 3-1, with one board member abstaining. Board members suggested that painting the image directly on the adobe and masonry wall probably would be acceptable.

The mural was proposed for an alcove or nicho in the alley by Charlotte Capling, managing partner of property owner 207 W. San Francisco/Burro Alley LLC. She couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

She noted in a letter to the board that Burro Alley “is a great part of Santa Fe’s economic history” and was a small-wood market in the 19th century, when burros were used to haul in the wood. A popular sculpture of a burro with a load of wood on its back already stands at the entrance to Burro Alley off San Francisco Street.

“Throughout history, it has been known for its wild west stories, (and) saloon, brothel and other notorious establishments,” Capling wrote of the alley. “During that time, the burro was responsible for the welfare of many.” She wrote that she was proposing the mural as “a small depiction in reverence to the ‘Beast of Burden.'” The mural would have had an anti-graffiti laminate.

Also Tuesday night, the board approved banners to hang from poles along the South Guadalupe Street business district, as proposed by the Guadalupe Street Association. The poles were installed for banners used during Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary celebration several years ago.

The 22 banners would show a stylized image of Our Lady of Guadalupe below the label “Guadalupe St.” The board approved use of the banners but only for three months and with the condition that Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, which has a huge outdoor sculpture of Our Lady that is a local landmark, agree to the banners.

Board members expressed some concerns about colors and that “St.” on the banners could be misinterpreted as abbreviating “saint” instead of “street.”

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