The Art in Public Places Program of New Mexico Arts, Axle Contemporary, and Grants Mainstreet have commissioned seven temporary environmentally based artworks to be exhibited in various locations in Grants and Milan, NM. Artworks respond to this year’s theme: flow. The works will remain on view until November 27th.
Jamison Chas Banks
Elisabeth & Mark Horst
¡Mezcla! (Ruben Olguin & Joanna Keane López)
Billy Joe Miller
Marion Claire Wasserman
Jamison Chas Banks
Banks will create a seemingly camouflaged Tire advertisement that will be fixed to the exterior of the Gas Station Museum in Milan. This advertisement echos the theme of Flow by acknowledging the advertising sign/billboard history of Route 66, interconnected economic systems, and the notion that the town of Grants existed in aesthetic cooperation with many other communities along the Route. The obvious indication is that tires or the wheel allow mobility and flow. The Sign Language tires emulate indigenous patterns and repetitious motifs. With the generic tribal aesthetic of Grants ever present, the notion of “Indian Sign Language” is an underlying current for this work.
You Are Here: The Milan Columns was created specifically for the Gas Station Museum, its exact location, and its place within the extended area of Cibola County. Like gas stations of old, it serves to orient visitors to the area’s many points of interest. We hope that you may travel to them, or through your inner vision gain an understanding of these places and of your vital role within our shared environment. Equally important, it is created to enhance an awareness of your place within the larger environment of our Earth and the Sun. The installation also calls attention to our past and present abuse of the Earth and its atmosphere, practices that must change if we are to survive as a species.
Elisabeth and Mark Horst
The Horsts will create a field of flowing hand dyed fabric ribbons, staked in undulating patterns. The translucent fabric pathways invite us to walk into the structure and experience the changing light, color and direction. This piece is intended to reflect the flow of energy we see in the movement of water and the patterns of erosion in New Mexico’s desert landscape—and specifically the topography of Grants—but in a way that invites us into a close and physical experience of that flow. The layout of the ribbons is based on a topographical map of the area.
¡Mezcla! (Ruben Olguin & Joanna Keane López)
NGC 2623 is a large eroding sculpture made from earthen materials, plant paper and native seeds. The temporary installation also acts as a droning soundscape within a listening garden. The work examines the flow of time, the flow of history, the flow of plants and the flow of people’s influence on the landscape over time. Concurrently, the installation considers the native and invasive plant species that are now home to the area left by people along the migration trails and transportation highways of the region. “NGC 2623” is an astronomical body of colliding galaxies drawn together through inevitability with a violent history and now approaching equilibrium. The sculpture’s form is derived from this galactic formation. Inside the structure is a small garden of native plants which creates an isolated indigenized ecological space. Audio plays back within the garden to subtly reveal the mechanized noise of the modern world from a plant’s perspective.
Billy Joe Miller
Cibola Cairn is a temporary installation that concentrates local found materials from Cibola County into the form of an obelisk or monolith. Miller will use materials such as tree parts, cholla wood, native and invasive plant life and discarded material.
Lava Rocks! Much of the New Mexican geography was shaped by fiery volcanic geologic processes. The landscape around Grants, NM is no exception. The lava flows, cinder cones, and other volcanic features at El Malpais National Monument all demonstrate the rampant volcanic activity in the area. Utigard has installed numerous fiery red and electric orange painted rocks in the park’s rock gardens, and arranged them in vein and lava flow patterns. This work is made in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
Marion Claire Wasserman
In A Flow of Blessings, Wasserman has created prayer flags with blessings on fabric that specifically bless this place, this land, this water, this mountain, these minerals, this resource, and these people. Approximately 300 feet of blessings (12” squares) in bold type, flutter in the desert wind between trees. Another chain of blessings made from dried sunflowers and clay seed balls simultaneously wraps around trees, adding the sound of rustling dried flowers and seeds, to be carried by the wind and the elements. These words and these seeds and blossoms are offerings and the visitors will be invited to take away the blessing that speaks to them. Hopefully, by the end of the installation, all will have been received and only the banner strings will remain.
About Grants, Milan, and Cibola County
Cibola County includes the ancient Pueblo of Acoma and also parts of the Diné (Navajo Nation) territory. Spanish explorers came through the area in 1540, and had established communities there by 1620. In 1680 Acoma and other Pueblos drove the Spaniards out of the area. In 1692 the Spanish settlers returned. In 1699 the Pueblo of Laguna was founded in what is now the eastern area of the county. In 1836, the area became part of Mexico. In 1848 the area became a territory of the United States of America. In the 1880's the railroad came through the area, bringing material goods and culture from the east. In 1912, the area was incorporated into the new State of New Mexico.
Grants, the largest city and now the county seat, was originally a Spanish settlement, Los Alamitos, so named for the Cottonwood trees along the drainage of the Rio San José. In the 1880s, 3 brothers established a camp there to work building the railroad. Their settlement was named Grants Camp, later Grants Station, and now Grants. Logging from the Zuni mountains drove the local economy until the 1930s when agriculture flourished and the area became the "carrot capital of the world". At this same time, Route 66 came through and brought tourism to the area. In 1950 uranium was discovered in the area (Haystack Mesa). Mining companies came to town and bought up the rights to the abundant water. Agriculture fell into decline and now Grants became the "uranium capital of the world". This boom lasted until the 1980's. Between 1980 and 1990 the population of Grants declined by 25%, but has since slowly risen. The city is becoming a destination for recreation and tourism. It is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Albuquerque and much of the surrounding area is pristine and protected wilderness including El Malpais National Monument, Mt. Taylor (Tsoodzil) and the Zuni Mountains in the Cibola National Forest, Zuni Ice Cave, Bandera Volcano, Ventana Arch, and Bluewater State Park. The area also has one of the longest unbroken stretches of historic Route 66 in the country which has become a popular destination for travellers from the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The "ghost towns" of Cubero and Budville have extensive ruins of stone buildings. Nearby is the Villa de Cubero Trading Post where Ernest Hemmingway reportedly holed up to write his novel The Old Man in the Sea. Nearby, The Pueblo of Acoma runs a casino and the Haak'u Museum, and also offer tours of the traditional mesa-top pueblo.
Interesting info links about the area
Mt. Taylor Traditional Cultural Property Determination of Eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, by Cynthia Buttery Benedict and Eric Hudson, New Mexico Historic Preservation Division
Call or write:
505-670-5854: Matthew Chase-Daniel, Axle Contemporary
505-670-7612: Jerry Wellman, Axle Contemporary
Axle Contemporary was founded in 2010 by artists Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman, as a collaborative work of art, and an innovative vehicle for arts distribution. It has since grown beyond the confines of the mobile exhibition space, and also includes forays into book publishing, and alternative venues for expanded and creative art exhibition.
NEW MEXICO ARTS
New Mexico Arts is the state arts agency and a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. They provide financial support for arts services and programs to non-profit organizations statewide and administer the 1% public art program for the state of New Mexico. Since its inception nearly 25 years ago, Arts in Public Places program has placed more than 2,500 works of art in all of New Mexico’s 33 counties. Their goal is to reflect the diversity of the arts in New Mexico, the Southwest, and the nation while building a dynamic public art collection for the State of New Mexico. Naomi Gibbons is the lead facilitator of the TIME project.
Each year, New Mexico Arts partners with a local community to commission up to ten temporary, visually engaging, and conceptually rich environmental artworks to be displayed for a short term exhibition in that community. The artworks relate to a designated theme, and we challenge artists to create environmental pieces that inspire, question, engage, and otherwise influence the citizens of and visitors to the host community. We are interested in interactive art that encourages an audience response and transforms participants into active contributors to the creative process. The artworks are displayed for the length of the exhibit, and at the end of the exhibition they are disassembled and removed, leaving no trace of ever having existed.
We thank the jurors for this project: Matthew Chase-Daniel, Robert Gallegos, Bianca Mitchell, Brian Vallo, and Jerry Wellman. Special thanks also to our on-site facilitators in Grants and Milan: Britnie Burds, Mitzi Frank, Ashley Gallegos, and Robert Gallegos.
Support for this project generously provided by the Cibola Arts Council, Grants Mainstreet, and the Grants-Cibola Chamber of Commerce.
For listings of restaurants, motels, and local attractions visit grants.org or download the Explore Grants! app.