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Nov 18

Go Art Go!

Posted on November 18, 2021 at 11:43 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

GO ART GO!

Monday, November 15, 2021 will forever be marked as a special day in local history – not because on this day our headlines read Covid cases rising again, we found a solution to climate change, or gas prices reached $5 per gallon. Rather, this day will forever be momentous….wait for it…. because the Percent for Art Funding Ordinance was passed by City Council! 

Celebrate!!

 This is a huge step forward for the Las Cruces Public Art (LCPA) program. The ordinance establishes a requirement that two percent -- yes TWO! -- of future General Obligation (GO) Bonds be automatically allocated toward the funding of public art related to the purpose of the GO bond and a small percentage of that amount will be allocated to maintaining our current public art collection. 

Percent for Art is an industry standard for funding public art (and maintenance) programs. Having this funding mechanism in place will help not only to acquire new art but also help to provide funding for the maintenance that is so badly needed to keep all the beautiful work of our artists in viewable shape for the public good, which aligns with Elevate Las Cruces and the City’s strategic plan for public art.

Of course, this is only one way of raising funds for our program. We will need to diversify our funding sources to include grants, partnerships, the General Fund, and private fundraising. This ordinance is a key step in our progress! 

The City Art Board had been working toward the creation of this ordinance since its inception in 2013. Through countless hours of research, debate, the LCPA master planning process, and working with various Art Program Coordinators, they never gave up. It has taken some time, and they deserve a loud shout out for the work that they did to make this happen. 

Thank you to all past and present City Art Board members who helped move the ordinance along. Thank you to City staff who offered guidance, advice, and helped draft the language. And most importantly, thank you Mayor, City Council and residents of Las Cruces for supporting the LCPA and approving Percent for Art. Let’s all look forward to the public art our community will receive from our new ordinance!

Rubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art.

Nov 03

Why Public Art?

Posted on November 3, 2021 at 12:43 PM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Why Public Art?

One of my earliest recollections of public art is the giant roadrunner that sits vigilantly overlooking the City of Las Cruces at the rest stop on I-10 at the I-70 transition. This is not where I first encountered him. We crossed paths for the first time when I was with my dad in his old truck with a bed full of trash on our way to the landfill that is now the site of business complexes off Telshor Drive.  As we drove up the hill towards the landfill, I saw this roadrunner grow and grow on the horizon as we got closer until he was larger than our truck. He was so awesome!  He was sitting on the edge of Las Cruces, watching people dump their trash in that landfill. I had never seen anything like him, and I had a great story to tell when we returned home.

Fast forward many years later when I was living elsewhere. One day I was looking through a magazine and saw a picture of this huge roadrunner. It was my bird!  I felt such pride that he was representing my hometown and I felt such homesickness for the place that was still home. Every time I returned to Las Cruces to visit family, I found the roadrunner had moved to a different spot in town (or so it seemed) but he was still impressive and held such a strong connection to my memories of growing up here.Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture overlooking the Mesilla Valley

It wasn’t until I moved back to Las Cruces that I learned the roadrunner was created by artist Olin Calk in 1993, and that he was made from recycled materials which the artist salvaged from the landfill. The very place where I first saw him. The sculpture, known simply as the Recycled Roadrunner, measures 20 feet tall and 40 feet long. As an iconic attraction of Las Cruces, it has been restored many times by the artist to maintain its awesomeness. He is a valued piece of sculpture in the City of Las Cruces public art collection.

Did my younger self know or care that the roadrunner was public art? Not so much. What did matter is that I loved looking at him. He inspired my imagination. He became a connection to home.

That is the power of public art and that is why a public art program is so important to communities. Public art has the potential to improve quality of life through creative expression, highlighting the city’s culture, creative community and creative economy; it can improve the visual identity of public spaces, and creates opportunities for the entire community to engage with art.

The Las Cruces Public Art Program’s mission is to commission more art that meets the goals of public art and to maintain the art that currently exists, so it continues to promote our community and bring art engagement to the residents of our city and visitors as well. Connection through art is a powerful thing; everyone should have their roadrunner.

Rubber Ducks is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art (LCPA) program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends and all things public art. 

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