“Culture embodies the shared complex and diverse heritage of a community.”
This is the opening line for the city of Santa Fe’s Art in Public Places program (AIPP).
It’s a motto that the program lives by.
Santa Fe is known for its rich artistic culture; one that is ever-evolving.
Since its inception in 1985, the AIPP has grown the public art portfolio around The City Different.
As of 2021, there are more than 73 artworks in a variety of media, styles and themes.
Pauline Kanako Kamiyama, Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department director, says there are some exciting projects that are community engaged.
She says the department no longer uses the phrase Public Art Portfolio, as a “collection,” acknowledging the artworks as cultural assets that add ongoing value.
“… And not something colonialized to be ‘collected’ nor static,” she continues.
Here is a look at five pieces of public art that were added this year:
1. “Un Pueblo sin Piernas pero Que Camina (Ugolino),” 2022, Hernan Gomez Chavez.
The steel structure by Gomez Chavez was installed in 2022 and is dedicated to Santa Fe. It is located at 6599 Jaguar Drive.
Kanako Kamiyama says the sculpture of a legless giant is intended to comment on the disparities in Santa Fe and the perseverance of the community living on Santa Fe’s Southside.
Based on a lyric from a song, “un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina,” the idea of a legless giant is meant to show the in-between state of rootedness, the uncertainty of immigrant communities and how important working families from the Southside are for the well-being of the entire city.
“This work is also inspired by the giant, Ugolino della Gherardesca and his sons, in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ who was imprisoned and left to starve to death,” the art commission said.
Gomez Chavez is a sculptor from Santa Fe working on new projects exploring artists’ role in gentrifying neighborhoods and the impact our current political climate has on U.S./Mexico relations.
2. “El Agua es Vida/Water is Life” by Alas de Agua Art Collective and Friends, Israel Francisco Haros, Jessica Ortiz, John Paul Granillo. Lead Artists, Leeana Aragon, Nayeli Navarro, Samantha Chavez, David Sloan, Youthworks Youth, 2022
Located at Salvador Perez Pool, 601 Alta Vista St. in Santa Fe, the murals are acrylic paint and were completed earlier this year.
Kanako Kamiyama says through workshops, surveys, curriculum and on-the-job training, Alas De Agua Art Collective created the “El Agua es Vida/Water is Life” mural.
Artists incorporated water elements in the tapestry weaving design, creating a flowing pattern with images of local cultural icons, city historical figures and local personalities.
Kanako Kamiyama says the mural is a reminder that water is at the center of our existence and defines our relationship to one another with a clear reminder of the flow of our ancestral connections to our Santa Fe culture.
Themes addressed by the mural are growth, water scarcity, water as hope, recreation, biodiversity, natural resilience and astronomy.
To learn more about the art collective, visit alasdeagua.com.
3. “CoyoteSong,” 2022 by Tigre Mashaal-Lively and Lucas Piper
This piece is patinated steel and is located at 205 Caja Del Rio Road in Santa Fe.
Kanako Kamiyama says “CoyoteSong” draws inspiration from coyotes for their complex relationship with humans, their role as boundary-crossers within a world that humans often try to keep rigidly defined, and their ability to adapt to shifting circumstances as they navigate new methods of survival. “Yet coyotes are beautiful, intelligent and deeply necessary members of our ecological community,” she says. “They are true natives of this land and it is our responsibility to respect them and make space for them. This artwork was created with the intention to connect viewers to the complex community around them, and inspire new strategies for creating stronger and more adaptable relationships within that community and beyond.”
Mashaal-Lively lives in Santa Fe and creates art ranging from large-scale installations, sculptures, and murals, to intimate illustrations, paintings, music and performance art.
4. “Moon Shot,” by Robert T. Davis
Located at the Art@MRC, 205 Caja Del Rio Road, sits the steel, stainless steel and acrylic painted sculpture.
“Moon Shot” is a large rocket sculpture made of a curved steel armature that is covered with a shaped-to-fit steel skin.
The sculpture dimensions are 12 feet by 6 feet by 20-feet-tall.
Kanako Kamiyama says the creation of this large steel sculpture was inspired by a baseball player named Wally Moon who, in the 1950s, learned to hit the ball over a tall screen covering the bleachers at the Dodgers’ home stadium in Los Angeles.
“He was able to hit these homers regularly enough that they became known as ‘Moon shots,’ ” she says. “The artist welcomes visitors and sports aficionados to hit a ball out of the park from home plate for their own chance of a ‘moon shot.’ ”
Davis builds large kinetic metal sculptures, often incorporating into them old classic trucks that he rescues from car gardens and junkyards.
5. “Steeling Shadows,” 2022, by Sophia Van Luchene
Van Luchene may be the youngest of the bunch of artists on this list.
She is a sophomore at the New Mexico School for the Arts, where she specializes in visual arts and creative writing.
“Steeling Shadows” is located at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy St. The artwork is made of stainless steel tubing, cables and paint.
According to Kanako Kamiyama, “Steeling Shadows” started as a small light and space study for a class project and grew into something larger in scale for the community to experience.
“Three overlapping stainless steel loops hold colored cables that steal light to make playful shadows day and night,” she says. “Sculpture and light interconnect as one. The cable’s primary colors evoke our New Mexico earth, sky and chamisa plant.”