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Giving the gift of art

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LA County wants to give the City of Santa Fe a gift, but it’s not what they had planned

By Jennifer Garcia

It’s not everyday that a city turns 400 years old and it’s not everyday that a neighboring county spends $25,000 as a way to say happy birthday.

Finding ways to beautify Los Alamos through art is one of the functions of the Arts in Public Places Board. It has commissioned artists, erected sculptures and added a bit of flair to the Los Alamos landscape through their various projects.

Now the City of Santa Fe will reap some of the benefits of the APP Board. As part of its 400th anniversary, the City Different will receive a gift from Los Alamos County in the form of pottery.

Originally, the APP Board had decided to give the city a gift in the form of a sculpture that would be placed somewhere in Santa Fe, however, after some discussion, it was decided that pottery would make a better gift.

“We worked together with Stephani (Johnson) and the president of the Arts in Public Places Board to determine what made the most sense for the amount allocated. It would have been difficult to obtain a sculpture,” Santa Fe Arts Commission Senior Planner Debra Garcia y Griego said.

The change had to be presented to county council for approval, however. At the Oct. 27 meeting, councilors voted on whether to purchase the pottery. “A couple of councilors didn’t vote for that,” Community Services Director Stephani Johnson said. Ultimately, the vote did pass and it was determined that pottery would make a suitable gift.

As the plans began to unfold, both parties decided that the gift would be placed in the lobby of Santa Fe’s new convention center. Garcia y Griego said that placing pottery in the center would be a better fit than placing a sculpture there. “We felt it was what we were trying to achieve,” she said, “A collection of Native American pottery from nearby pueblos will enhance the collection.”

The City of Santa Fe will basically choose the pieces of pottery they want featured in the lobby. “They will choose what they want, take photos and we’ll send them a check for the purchase of the pottery. Debra Garcia y Griego will send digital images,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said the convention center has a fireplace in the lobby with a stepped mantelpiece, near which the pottery will be placed. “They’ll insert some sort of ceramic boxes there to protect the pieces,” she said.

Los Alamos County will spend approximately $25,000 on the gift. “The council thought the monies could come out of the Economic Development through Partnering Fund,” Johnson said. “They felt the gift fell into the partnering function, so money was used from that fund as opposed to the APP fund. I’m happy that council saw this as something that fell in with a partnering function, regionally.”

Garcia y Griego said that she and Johnson are still working out the details of the purchase, but expect to move forward in finalizing the details on the artist selection process in January or February. “Stephani and I are still working through the details. We’re working together and are making this a joint effort,” Garcia y Griego said. “The City of Santa Fe is thrilled with the generosity of Los Alamos County and the willingness to celebrate with us by giving this gift. We’re looking forward to working with Los Alamos County.”