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Luckily, living in Albuquerque, there’s plenty of open space to take in while adhering to the guidelines.
Shelle Sanchez, director of the city’s Cultural Services Department, knows firsthand how many public art pieces are located around the city.
Over the course of more than 40 years, the city’s Public Art Program has acquired more than 1,000 pieces for all New Mexicans to enjoy.
Sanchez says walking is a daily practice for her because it strengthens her mind, body and soul.
“I’ve seen more and more people walking around out there with me during 2020,” she says. “Here are five works from the Albuquerque Public Art collection that are easy to encounter and visit along a walk – some of them even invite you to take a quick break from your urban trek, and perhaps connect with the inspiration that comes from the artist and their subject during these challenging times.
1. “Cultural Crossroads of the Americas” (1996) by Bob Haozous is located at Central Avenue at Harvard NE on the campus of the University of New Mexico.
Haozous’ piece depicts the pre-Columbian culture of the Americas paired with symbols of contemporary culture in the US. One panel features images derived from pre-Columbian relief murals and the other contains symbols of contemporary American culture. In each panel a line of cars, trucks and other vehicles travel along the base. The sky area has planes and clouds placed in a pattern to tie the two sides together. Symbols of transportation represent the historic Camino Real, the 20th century Route 66, and the continuation of these routes with modern air travel.
“It’s easy to miss this piece as you drive down Central, but take a walk down historic Route 66 and stop in Yale Park,” Sanchez says. “It’s a good opportunity to reflect on where we came from and where we are now.”
2. “Dr. John A. Aragon” (2003) by Judith Aragon is located at 1309 Fourth SW at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce in Barelas.
The life-size bronze sculpture is of Dr. John Aragon, who is wearing a cowboy hat.
“Dr. Aragon was born and raised in Barelas (not far from where this statue sits),” Sanchez says. “He was the president of New Mexico Highlands University and a highly respected community leader. He was a wise, kind man by all accounts, and there is nice banco (bench) that invites you to sit down next to him and maybe visit for awhile.”
3. “El Senador Memorial Honoring Senator Dennis Chavez” (1999) by Cynthia Rowland in Civic Plaza is another opportunity to visit a sculpture up close.
“Dennis Chavez was a dedicated public servant, the first Hispanic Senator elected to a full-term in the U.S. Congress and the first U.S. senator born in New Mexico,” Sanchez says. “This memorial honors his legacy and also invites us to get close to him and remember what a positive impact individuals and elected officials can have on our community.”
4. “Dawn Light” (1982) by Ed Vega is located at San Mateo and Indian School NE.
“Dawn Light” is a series of abstract, orange sculptures located in the San Mateo Mini Park. The steel sculptures stand quietly, even mysteriously, and are reminiscent of Stonehenge, ancient rock sculptures believed to be arranged in alignment to solar patterns. The shapes in “Dawn Light” may remind you of rays of sunlight.
“(It) is a sculpture to walk through and around,” Sanchez says. “It invites us to notice the shadows that it casts in the morning as much as the forms and colors of the sculpture itself.”
5. “Sharing the Joy of a New Discovery” (1996) by Alice Thompson is located at the Tony Hillerman Library at 8205 Apache Avenue NE.
The sculpture represents the joy a parent and child can share when reading together. The abstract sculpture of two figures exaggerated in size and simplified in form, is made out of aluminum.
“Like the process of discovery, it invites us to come close and walk through it or stand back and take in the whole work,” she says. “I am trying to say yes to any thing or moment that invites joy right now.”
To visit the City of Albuquerque’s interactive public art map, visit cabq.gov and search for “interactive public art map.”
Editor’s note: 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.”