051821 jw artinstallations1.jpg

Greg Dicerbo stops Tuesday on the Plaza for a noodle lunch with daughters Ellie Dicerbo, 3, and Cecily Dicerbo, 1, and wife Jamie Way, near the empty pedestal that once held the Soldiers’ Monument. The city of Santa Fe’s Arts Commission plans to discuss a temporary art installation at the site of the toppled monument.

If only on a temporary basis, the site of the toppled Plaza obelisk soon could catch people’s attention once again.

The city of Santa Fe’s Arts Commission on Thursday is scheduled to discuss a temporary art installation near what was the controversial Soldiers’ Monument, felled by protesters in October.

Pauline Kanako-Kamiyama, director of the city’s Arts and Culture Department, said the commission has been tasked with coming up with a recommendation to city officials for the area surrounding the stub of the monument as a temporary way to highlight the start of the summer and continued recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kanako-Kamiyama said it will be up to the commission to decide how to gather ideas and what to discuss. The recommendation — whether a particular artwork, a series of installments or something else — will then be sent to City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill for review.

If a decision is made to go forward with a recommendation, the city could move on to an implementation phase, with an art installation to stay on the site from one to three months, Kanako-Kamiyama said.

“Ideally, it would be nice for the beautification project to happen as summer starts,” Kanako-Kamiyama said. “It’s really a celebration of coming through this last year and four months of sorts.”

City spokesman Dave Herndon said LaPan Hill was not available for comment.

The stub of the obelisk is covered by what amounts to a large, white wooden box. The monument was destroyed on Indigenous Peoples Day after what started as a peaceful three-day rally took a turn. The demonstration ended with some protesters in handcuffs and the 132-year-old monument in pieces.

Seven people were charged in the weeks following the monument’s destruction.

In response, the city formulated what it called CHART, or the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth process, in January to address potentially insensitive public art and gather a variety of viewpoints about Santa Fe’s history.

City officials have said the goal is to hold a series of conversations and meetings that ultimately could lead to recommendations for the City Council on what to do with public spaces. The city is currently working through the procurement process to select a consultant team to oversee the CHART process.

Mayor Alan Webber called the discussion the “first step toward trying to make the Plaza look better.”

“It would be nice to have something that people would feel good about at the Plaza before we get the CHART process going,” Webber said. “We really shouldn’t wait for the entire process to run before we try to make the Plaza look nicer for the next 90 days or so.”

But some city councilors say the Plaza shouldn’t be touched until the CHART process gets rolling.

City Councilor Michael Garcia said he had not yet seen any proposed ideas for the Plaza but was concerned city staff members would make a decision for the space outside the City Council’s authority.

“At the end of the day, we must remember that this is the community’s space, and the decision should be left up to the community as to how that space is filled with art or any other type of objects,” Garcia said. “Community input is critical on this matter, and unfortunately the community is left out the process.”

Webber said the process is still malleable, but he added the Arts Commission had said it wanted to be part of the larger conversation about art in public spaces.

“I have to be very clear: We are not looking for something that adds to the political debate,” he said.

Councilor Chris Rivera said he was unaware of a plan to move forward with a temporary installation but would prefer to see what is possible before the city takes action.

He added he feels the CHART process is taking too long to get started.

“This temporary art installation is going to stir things up again,” Rivera said.

Kanako-Kamiyama said that once the consultant team has been selected for the CHART process, it will take over any subsequent temporary installations at the Plaza. She reiterated the initial installation would be temporary.

Councilor Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez said the aesthetics of a white box in the city’s cultural center is an eyesore, and a temporary installation might be for the best as tourist season kicks off.

“I think that the most important piece that is mentioned is that this is temporary,” Cassutt-Sanchez said. “The CHART process is in place for a larger decision about what happens at the Plaza.”

Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler said she would like to see how CHART handles the installations and any additional conversations about city public spaces that come out of that process.

No matter what is selected, either permanently or temporarily, some likely will be unhappy, Vigil Coppler said.

“The beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder,” she said.

(26) comments

Lynn k Allen

A beautiful tree 🌳

Tom Hyland

Now that the potted pine trees have been removed from around the base of the monument it's plainly obvious what the solution should be. Stucco the box brown and stick fake vigas all the way around the top... on all four sides... just like so many other buildings along Cerrillos Road. Hang red chile ristras from the vigas. Paint fake doors and windows on the brown box and maybe paint a cat in one of the windows. Install loud speakers atop the box playing "Oh Fair New Mexico" on a continuous loop. Joy and harmony will be restored to the Plaza.

Thor Sigstedt

I think that what needs to be done is to consult many leaders of the area and the populace about the wishes of the community. I also believe an honest history of the various issues and characters needs to be displayed somehow, including the civil war era dynamics which include Chivington and the Indian Wars. The area has made itself amazing with the recent Plaza Music and dance and needs weather protection, shade and a decent dance floor, which might be an interesting topic to display; the various cultures that make this so wonderful and rich; dancing ;young and old, etc. Celebrate that which is rich already!

Khal Spencer

I would leave the white box there as a testimony to how goofed up these monument politics have become. I say "goofed up" because if I said what I really think, it would be censored.

KT Rivera

Obviously the Mayor simply does not get it. He and his 'commissions' simply do not understand how big of a wound remains for the citizens of this city. He would rather cover this up to make things look nice for the tourists. What the tourists should see is an explanation of what happened and an invitation to contact the Mayor with all questions as to why it remains looking the way it does. As for beautification of the plaza, the city should stick to the annual hanging flower pots. They look lovely.

Richard Reinders

It is Ironic I just watched the Monument Men the true story about how Hitler tried to cancel all European culture by stealing the art. And how the US Government spent a lot of time and money recovering and putting the art back where it belongs so the people and artist of Europe could have an identity to relate to. It is almost identical with what is happening now in US history, they are not killing to achieve this but they are a lot slicker about it with committees. What we need is a modern day Monument Men to correct all the wrong visited on the citizenry.

Stefanie Beninato

I agree with Chris Rivera it is taking too long to get the process going. I have concerns about the Arts Commission making a decision on what should be at the plaza even if temporary--IMHO the Commission's recommendation should go to Council--not be staff-driven. CHART is NOT an appointed committee. There will be a facilitation team hired on contract by the city staff. That team in conjunction with city staff will create a process. The process requires those who want to be on the body that makes decisions about art in public spaces to attend all three meetings/panels as set up by this facilitation team--hopefully, depending on citizen interest and commitment, it will be diverse and representative of many POVs. If we allow the CHART body/panel to decide on the temporary art installation, it will be months since CHART process is only in its initial stage (select facilitation team). However, I believe those on the CHART panel/body should have a major voice, if not the major voice, in deciding on a permanent solution/replacement for the obelisk. It is ugly now but gives us a talking point about why and how the obelisk was torn down. Let the city expose its shame/uncaring by leaving it the way it is until the CHART body makes these decisions/recommendations--not the Arts Commission.

KT Rivera

[thumbup]

Donald Chavez

Exactly

mark Coble

A statue of George Floyd. Perfect for Santa Fe.

Tom Hyland

My God. THAT'S IT! Mark, you are a visionary.

Lee Vigil

Of course Webber doesn't want anyone to see the three ton elephant at the center of the plaza, the heart of the city ... the centerpiece of his tenure, his most meaningful accomplishment. Destruction, division, failure. Give them a distraction. It's an election year. City council members were caught flat-footed and hadn't an idea about this proposal until asked for comment by the newspaper. Jared LePan knew and she'll be the gatekeeper, but she wasn't available for comment. Smells pretty bad, but predictable from this City Hall.

Tom Hyland

You know what used to occupy the center of the Plaza before the Civil War monument was erected? A circular gazebo with a decorative roof and performance stage. The every-event-fits-all solution for providing a cohesive non-politcal, non-racist invitation to enjoy the Plaza is standing only 75 feet away to the north. Pick up the present bandstand and move it to the center. Pour a little more sidewalk to accomodate it's oblong shape and problem is solved forever. Let's get some music on the Plaza real soon, and in the meantime someone needs to call a house moving company. The bandstand could be picked up and moved into the center a lot quicker than a house.

Khal Spencer

[thumbup]

Cheryl Odom

I found this book to be very educational. Highly recommended for the members of the committee: https://thenewpress.com/books/lies-across-america

A Ortega

Again no input from the citizensAgain no input from the citizens of Santa Fe. More hand picked friends to form CHART. Another made up organization to do as webber says. I think you need to just remove the plywood box that hides the destruction Webber and Villareal promoted, so the people can see our city's leadership in action. Please Councilor Vigil Coppler and Councilor Chavez keep on eye on what's going on.

A Ortega

I apologize i did mean Councilor Michael Garcia not Chavez, Need another cup of coffee

Andrew Lucero

[thumbup]

Lee Vigil

I agree! Yes, it is exactly that, isn't it? Rule by committee, only the mayor appoints the members of the committee. No quid pro quo there, right? Webber has no idea how to govern, always skirting democratic norms, unilateral nonsense, mumbo-jumbo excuses and double-talk, and the lies that we've come to expect, predictably follow. Yes, we should pull off the plywood and let everyone see what the obelisk really looks like now. Let everyone see what elected officials, who have been entrusted with the city, its symbols, its history have accomplished and what's at stake when you elect newbies who have no idea what they're doing, or the consequences for their words or their actions. They've both failed deeply. For those of us multi-generational folks, its a deep wound. One we won't let slide or forget.

Richard Reinders

Simply repair the Obelisk that is what belongs there, and keep Webber away from it

Andrew Lucero

[thumbup]

Lee Vigil

If the plaque was a problem - which I agree it was - then why not remove or alter the plaque?

mark Coble

Questions are discouraged.

Angel Ortiz

Too logical of a solution for the City's leadership. Now we have a plywood box at center stage of the plaza. How our once truly wonderful city has been altered. Sad.

Steve Gonzales

YES!!!

Donald Chavez

[thumbup][thumbup]

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