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Dec 21

May the Creative Workforce Be with You

Posted on December 21, 2023 at 3:13 PM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Public Art City LogoThe City of Las Cruces was awarded a creative industries grant from the State of New Mexico for the purpose of creating projects that relate to developing and growing creative organizations and businesses in Las Cruces recently. This is exciting news for Public Art because we will be scheduling free professional development workshops that can be attended by all artists and others working in creative fields.

Public Art, in partnership with the Las Cruces Public Libraries (Library) and the City’s Economic Development department, will hold a series of “Art Smarter, Not Harder” workshops focusing on the business of being a creative entrepreneur. 

A man points at a TV Screen which contains the art design on Fire Station 3.

Artist Art Garcia presenting his proposal for Fire Station #3. 

Proposed topics include “Business Licenses, Taxes for Pop-Ups and Cottage Industries”, “How to respond to RFQs/RFPs”, “Timelines and Budgets”, “Understanding Insurance Requirements”, “Intellectual Property Rights: Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents” and “Navigating e-Commerce” to name a few. We will work with Economic Development and the Small Business Development Center to not only provide general business information but fill gaps that may be more specific to creative business.

An engineered drawing of the Animal Services Center Public Art Piece

Sample of stamped engineered plan needed for some public art installations. 

A man stands next to the Animal Service Center art piece before it is paintedASCMV sculpture being fabricated. 

The Library will offer the Artists + Libraries Innovative Collaborative Entrepreneurship (A.L.I.C.E.) project, a three-pronged approach to foster business artists in the community in partnership with established art entrepreneurs. This approach includes 1. A “Library of Things” that creatives can borrow such as cakepans for culinary arts, fiber art hooks, needles, thread, etc.; 2. An updated makerspace at the main library to facilitate hands on learning utilizing musical equipment and technology, 3D printers, sewing machines and related equipment; 3. Classes for art entrepreneurs using the makerspace including fine arts, fiber arts, culinary arts, decorative arts, architecture, and more. 

Various kitchen cooking tools including pots, pans, bowls, and spoons Possible items that can be borrowed from the "Library of Things". 

A ceramic art piece spins as two hands shape the clay

Possible skills class using Library makerspace. 

The aim is to bolster the creatives that live and contribute to the vibrant artistic community unique to Las Cruces with training and resources that help them thrive and grow their business. Best of all, all programming is free of charge. We hope this will encourage all creatives and other community members to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to explore being an entrepreneur, take existing business to the next level or find resources with solutions or ideas for a lucrative creative industry career.

Workshop and class schedules will be announced soon. For more information, please contact Public Art, [email protected] or 575/541-2780, or the Library at 575/528-4000.

Students sit at desks as a teacher sits and presents in class


Rubber Ducks Banner 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. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to [email protected].

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Nov 17

Artists Rights Matter

Posted on November 17, 2023 at 9:29 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Public Art City Logo

Recently a community member took it upon himself to “restore” a mural that had been badly tagged. He posted his project on social media asking for community participation and financial support. This sparked a community wide outcry of support for someone taking action when the City, who owns the mural, has not. Not only was the fact that this is an act of vandalism downplayed in this discussion, but even more disturbing, artist rights were never part of this debate.   

While amateur or emerging artists may not be familiar with the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), professional artists live by it. VARA protects “an artist’s moral rights regarding his/her artwork – the right to correct attribution and the right of artistic integrity.” The artist receives full protection for as long as they live.  

In this case, the VARA rights under integrity state an artist has the right to “prevent any intentional modification of your work which would damage your honor or reputation” and has “the right to prevent any intentional or grossly negligent destruction of your work if it is of ‘recognized stature’”.  

Anthony Pennock, a renowned artist who painted the mural in collaboration with Joe Ireland (who has since passed away) is still protected by VARA, and he was understandably very upset by the “improvements” that the community member has made to his artwork. The City takes VARA rights very seriously; our contracts with artists include a clause that says we will do our due diligence to contact the artist first when repair work is needed on their artwork. That is why we requested that the community member cease painting over the mural, as in his enthusiasm, he appeared to have forgotten or ignored the fact that the mural he was painting over was someone else’s artwork. 

La Llorona under a bridge, in progress of being painted

"La Llorona" mural by Anthony Pennock and Joe Ireland

La Llorona mural vandalism

"La Llorona" mural after modifications by community member

On a positive note, we are happy that the community values public art in the City and wants to see it repaired/restored when needed. Maintaining the City’s public art collection is a priority to the program and the Quality of Life department. We are currently assessing the collection to prioritize the artwork that needs the most attention first, while at the same time looking for the funding that is required. The Anthony Pennock mural was always a part of that assessment. 

As a result of this incident, the mural is now a restoration project rather than a repair. We will work with Mr. Pennock to bring his mural back to its original signature aesthetic that Mr. Pennock has worked his entire career to establish, which upholds his outstanding reputation as a professional artist. 

If you see tagging or graffiti on a public artwork, please report it by emailing [email protected] or calling 575/541-2780. You can also send a message via Facebook or Instagram @lcpublicart.

Rubber Ducks Blog BannerRubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to [email protected].

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Nov 01

Wherever You Go, You Are Here

Posted on November 1, 2023 at 11:14 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Public Art City LogoYears ago, I attended a fundraising event in Las Cruces that had the typical silent auction found at such events. I browsed the items with no intention of bidding, until I saw a whimsical, silly piece of art that made me laugh.  

I can’t remember how many times I went back to look at the small sculpture of a fish sitting on a couch. It was colorful and made of paper-mâché. The symbolism was satirical which appealed to my snarky humor. It was from an artist new to me – Stephen Hansen. I resisted bidding on it, but I thought about that little fish for a long time after. It became “my fish that got away” story. 

Pack o Pups

"Pack-O-Pups" sculpture by Stephen Hansen 

Some years later, as I was looking at the City’s public art inventory, I noticed an artistic bus shelter that had a very familiar aesthetic but no artist credit. I did a little digging and sure enough, it’s the work of Stephen Hansen, the same artist who’s sculpture I still regret not purchasing.  

I have since discovered that the little fish artist is a world-renown artist living in Las Cruces. He shows his work in elite galleries throughout the country, has art pieces in the Smithsonian and other major museums. His work is collected by art lovers everywhere. For Las Cruces to have a bus shelter designed by him is very cool.  

Hansen Here Kitty Kitty

"Here Kitty Kitty" sculpture by Stephen Hansen 

In October of 2003, the City contracted with local businessman Richard Parra to construct the bus shelter. Mr. Parra commissioned Mr. Hansen to design an art component to it. The artist fabricated a metal sculpture in the shape of a man sitting at the bus stop with an arrow pointing down with the words “You Are Here”, which is the title of the piece. The sculpture was designed to have a natural rust patina, a technique that works well with our desert environment. It’s such a simple design but sparks a happy reaction, as does most of his work. A mural, painted by Las Cruces High School students at the same time, serves as a backdrop. “You are Here” is located on Espina Ave. near Tony Gomez Park.  

You Are Here (KW)HR

"You Are Here" bus shelter by Stephen Hansen on Espina Ave.

How great is it to have a Stephen Hansen original gracing the side of a city street? Residents would probably be surprised to hear that fans from all over the world would be thrilled to visit this sculpture in person. Las Crucens own an art piece that could easily be in any Hansen art collection, available for their enjoyment any time. I may have lost out on the little fish on the couch, but now, whenever I see “my” Hansen sculpture as I drive by, it makes me smile.  

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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. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to [email protected].

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