The conflict between the construction of the Vladem Contemporary Art Museum and the preservation of the “Multicultural” mural by Gilberto Guzman would appear to be specious, since they both share the same goal, namely to honor and maintain the sources of multi-ethnic New Mexican artists. These artists can be Native American, Hispano or Anglo. Their art can be murals, sculptures, paintings, photographs, pottery, weaving.
Please note that the motto of the New Mexico Museum of Art is “to bring the art of the world to New Mexico and the art of New Mexico to the world.”
The purpose of the Vladem Contemporary is not to provide publicity for its donors, who did not seek naming rights, but rather were offered this recognition. Their intention has been to provide a vibrant destination for artists and the viewing public.
Community art practices are really not looked down on by art world figures, since such figures include the artists and their viewers. Such practices are created and maintained by true artists, independent of their academics. Their cultural traditions will be honored and communicated by the new museum, which will be dedicated to all the peoples of New Mexico. No one will lose.
The unfortunate condition of Mr. Guzman’s mural is the result of years of unnecessary neglect. Its disintegration has been an ongoing issue for years, prior to the support of the Vladem family for the new museum. The stability of the wall, let alone the mural itself, is the result of long-term deterioration. Reports from the Department of Cultural Affairs and the New Mexico Museum Foundation document the precariousness of the wall.
The mural itself has been photographed and digitalized. Its replication will constitute a permanent display in the new museum’s lobby.
The new museum will develop into a permanent resource for Indigenous and Hispanic artists. It will provide studios, and offer classes for students and adults. It will support local galleries, shops and restaurants. Remember that a rising tide carries all boats.
Let us hope that mutual consideration will prevail and that all the inhabitants of Santa Fe and New Mexico will benefit.
Sharon McCawley lives in Santa Fe.