'Canyon Watch' dedication held at North Mesa

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By Jennifer Garcia

The roundabout at North Mesa got a new inhabitant on July 31. And the bronze cougar sculpture, entitled

“Canyon Watch,” was installed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the roundabout on Thursday.

A handful of people were present, which included Dick McIntyre and Randy Lucero from the Parks Division; County Councilors Frances Berting, Nona Bowman and Robert Gibson; Nancy Talley of the Transportation Division; Arts in Public Places Staff Liaison Stephani Johnson; Los Alamos resident Paula Barclay; Abigail von Schlegell from the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe; artist Kent Ullberg; John Hoffman, Chair of the Arts in Public Places Board, and members of the media, as well as others.

According to a press release, the Art in Public Places Board members chose the sculpture after numerous visits to local galleries and many hours spent reviewing a range of artwork by several sculptors.

They finally decided on "Canyon Watch." Ullberg says the piece “captures the brilliance and power of a large male cougar overlooking his domain.”

He feels cats are the most supple of animals and lend themselves to interesting sculptural poses that spark the essence of his artistic inspiration, “working with beautiful abstract shapes of nature.”

The Gerald Peters Gallery is one of the many galleries which features Ullberg's work. The sculpture was purchased from the Santa Fe gallery.

The ceremony nearly hit a snag when someone sprayed graffiti on the sculpture a couple of days before the event was scheduled to take place.

Paula Barclay and her husband Bryan Lally noticed that the graffiti was water soluble and proceeded to clean the piece of artwork up, with the help of other North Mesa residents who saw what they were doing, and stopped to help.

During the ceremony, Councilor Nona Bowman said, “I'd like to thank the staff for their hard work, you have all done a great job.” She also thanked Barclay and her husband, as well as the other residents who helped clean the sculpture up.

John Hoffman thanked the councilors, in particular, Bowman. “Art in Public places had a vision of what we could do. I'd like to thank Councilor Berting and Councilor Gibson for the funding that allows us to do these projects,” he said. Ullberg thanked the community and said, “Thank you for honoring me and making me a part of your community. I love what I do. I'd do it even if it was illegal. I'm very proud and I'm glad that my baby (the sculpture) is not an orphan.”

Ullberg is a premier wildlife sculptor and visionaries of the modern wildlife monument. His list of museum, government, corporate and private patrons spans four continents and his monuments rank among the largest and most respected in the world. Ullberg is also a recipient of many awards, gold medals and holds memberships in renowned global societies.