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Art installation in Rio Rancho shadows the sun

Two structures now sit on the southwest corner of Rio Rancho’s City Center, paying homage to the sun.

Friday afternoon, a group gathered at City Hall to celebrate the completion of the second piece, created by award-winning artist Donald Redman. He was chosen from dozens of artists for the project. His piece, titled “Sun Mask,” sits next to a large sundial featuring two large boulders.

The large “Sun Mask” installation features two Corten – also know as weathering – steel structures that resemble inverted seashells with slits cut into them. Corten steel eliminates the need for painting and its chemical composition protects it from the elements, preventing corrosion.

Don Redman stands in front of his new art installation, “Sun Mask,” which is outside of the Rio Rancho City Center. Redman has been a practicing artist since the 1970s, attending a performing and visual arts high school and later working as an apprentice for several artists around the country to learn his craft. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Don Redman stands in front of his new art installation, “Sun Mask,” which is outside of the Rio Rancho City Center. Redman has been a practicing artist since the 1970s, attending a performing and visual arts high school and later working as an apprentice for several artists around the country to learn his craft. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The Corten structures in Redman’s piece sit atop a base of 1-inch, light blue, emerald glass tiles that create the illusion of a reflection pool with water. The open spaces and conical shape of the structures provides an endless variety of shadows that are projected onto the tiles. Redman said the shape, angle and placement of the shadows depends not only on the time of day but the time of year.

“I had the material, and I noticed one day, when the sun came up, how it was refracting light all around it,” he said. “I realized I could make a static piece that created movement around it.”

Despite the solar theme, the warmth of the sun couldn’t be felt much during the 3 p.m. ceremony. Constant wind gusts and frigid temperatures forced the celebration indoors to the city council chambers. The crowd came out briefly for the official ribbon cutting.

The New Mexico Arts in Public Places program provided the $73,500 for the project. The program diverts 1 percent of all state monies designated for construction projects and major renovations to the arts. According to the city, 29 artists entered submissions to win the project. A selection committee chose Redman from five finalists.

City officials Friday afternoon unveiled a public artwork titled "Sun Mask" by artist Don Redman in front of City Hall on the southwest side. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

City officials Friday afternoon unveiled a public artwork titled “Sun Mask” by artist Don Redman in front of City Hall on the southwest side. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Redman, who was born and raised in Houston but has lived in Santa Fe for the past two decades, was a recipient of the 2014 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

“I still think art is healing,” he said. “Every traumatic thing that I’ve gone through, my way of dealing with it was to go away and make something.”

Linda Laitner was on the selection committee and spoke to the attendees on Friday.

“When he uncovered a rendering of his piece, we all gasped,” she said. “It was absolutely breathtaking. The shadows make it unique every time you look at it. Employees and visitors now have a calm place to have special time with art.”

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