A look at five public sculptures and murals around Las Cruces - Albuquerque Journal

A look at five public sculptures and murals around Las Cruces

 

The arts often play a role in celebrating civic pride.

It’s also a way to grow the creative economy.

Three hours south of Albuquerque sits Las Cruces, which is taking steps to place itself as an arts hub.

In the last few years, the State of New Mexico approved of Las Cruces’ Arts and Cultural District.

But the journey began long ago.

In 2013, the Las Cruces City Council established the City Art Board to advise the council on matters related to public art, making clear that public art was a priority for Las Cruces.

With a staff being hired in recent years, the art board and the city developed a public art master plan that will guide the work and build on the existing pieces it has.

Ceci Vasconcellos is the Art Program coordinator for the city of Las Cruces.

She is responsible for overseeing the program and guiding it to each step in the master plan.

“It establishes a vision and provides administrative and programmatic recommendations to guide Las Cruces through the exciting – and at times challenging – work of building and caring for a public art collection that reflects and supports the importance of the arts in Las Cruces,” she says.

Vasconcellos took some time to highlight five pieces from the city’s public art collection, which is home to more than 100 pieces.

1. “Recycled Roadrunner” sculpture

“Recycled Roadrunner” sculpture was installed in 1993 and the iconic landmark sits near the Interstate 10 and Highway 70 rest stop in Las Cruces. (Courtesy of the city of Las Cruces)

Installed in 1993, the “Recycled Roadrunner” is an iconic landmark to residents and visitors of Las Cruces. It is located near the Interstate 10 and U.S. 70 rest stop overlooking the Mesilla Valley.

“At a distance, the 20-foot-tall, 40-foot-long bird looks life-like with his feathers gleaming in hues of grays and blues, but up close, viewers are surprised to see his beautiful feathers and structure are actually made from recycled odds and ends,” Vasconcellos says. “The ‘Recycled Roadrunner’ is the creation of artist Olin Calk, who created him in a past Las Cruces landfill using salvaged materials.”

The “Recycled Roadrunner” has been restored many times and has had a few different home,s but continues to be a favorite attraction, she says.

2. Anthony Pennock Water Tanks (various installation dates) — “Jornada de Muerto,” “Aqua Fria,” “Ancient Canyon,” “Journey to Tlalocan,” Quail Morning,” “Valley of the Moon”

Anthony Pennock painted six water tanks around Las Cruces. He painted his firs one at the age of 17. Shown is “Quail Morning.” (Courtesy of the city of Las Cruces)

Vasconcellos says the series of water tank murals located throughout Las Cruces depict historical vignettes, local animal life and native plants, beautifully blending utilitarian water tanks into part of the natural landscape.

“Each tank mural is a commissioned installation by Las Cruces artist Anthony Pennock, who painted the first water tank when he was only 17 years old,” Vasconcellos says. “The artwork triggers the viewer’s imagination, and the colors seem to change vibrancy depending on the time of day.”

3. “Pride” sculpture

“Pride” installed in 2018, is located outdoors at the entrance of the East Mesa Public Safety Complex. (Courtesy of the city of Las Cruces)

Vasconcellos says “Pride” is a highly visible and dynamic sculpture.

It uses Cor-Ten weathering steel and stainless-steel in layers and detail enhancements to symbolize the strength of the community and its public safety department.

“Featuring the Organ Mountains as its focal point, the art piece is fabricated in a way that treats its viewers to a varying shadow dance across its façade, created by the ever-present sunlight,” she says.

Installed in 2018, “Pride” is located outdoors at the entrance of the East Mesa Public Safety Complex, making it easily accessible to the public.

4. “Endless Passage” sculpture

“Endless Passage” is one of the city of Las Cruces’ newest public art pieces. It was installed in 2021 inside the City Hall lobby and is a work from Debbie Dickinson. (Courtesy of the city of Las Cruces)

“Endless Passage” is one of the city’s newest public art pieces. It was installed in 2021 inside the City Hall lobby and is a wrap-around 3D design.

Artist Debbie Dickinson used salvaged porcelain, glazed ceramic, and glass tile to create this intriguing, colorful representation of the rich cultural history of Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley.

” ‘Endless Passage’ lends itself to open interpretation with subliminal details that are gems waiting to be discovered and tells bits of the collective story each time it is viewed,” Vasconcellos says. “The art piece wraps around the central pillar of the lobby depicting night and day in a timeless loop. It can be seen from the lobby of City Hall by looking up or at eye-level from the second-floor balcony.”

5. “Tierra Sagrada (Sacred Earth)”

“Tierra Sagrada (Sacred Earth)” is a vibrant mural illuminating the outdoor amphitheater at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library. (Courtesy of The City of Las Cruces)

“Tierra Sagrada (Sacred Earth)” is a vibrant mural illuminating the outdoor amphitheater at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library.

“Bright pinks, oranges, purples, greens and blues create abstract images promoting the local environment and agriculture,” Vasconcellos says. “The mural can be enjoyed through the picture windows lining the walls of the children’s section of the library as well as by sitting in the amphitheater.”

Vasconcellos says the project was a community mural project lead by a nonprofit makerspace organization based in Las Cruces.

The entire community was invited to help paint the mural using a paint-by-number technique, and over 300 people, including school children, helped artist Eugenia “AO” Carmona complete the beautiful design. It was completed in 2019.

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