Walk around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and you’ll see not only galleries full of art, but art covering the walls of buildings and decorating the alleys.
I’ll get this party started by sharing my least favorite piece of public art in Truth or Consequences. This is a tile mosaic on the front of the Bank of the Southwest at 509 N Broadway Street. It’s a nice enough (although somewhat bland to my eye) mosaic, except for the caption, “Our Heritage.” Sure, it’s supposed to be inclusive, with the Spanish Catholic guy on the left, the Native American fellow in the middle, and the white cowboy/rancher man on the right, but what about women? Did only men play a role in the heritage of Truth or Consequences/Southern New Mexico/the Southwest? I think not. I roll my eyes every time I see this piece of work that renders invisible the women who played a role in the town’s history.
(After doing some basic Google searching, I was not able to find the name of the artist who did this mosaic, nor when it was completed. If you know the name of the artist and the history of this mosaic, please leave a comment with the info.)
A piece I like more is this one, located in the alley behind the storefront on Broadway that once housed the CHF thrift store.
It’s a mixed media, found object, three-dimensional collage. For a long time, I didn’t know who’d done this piece, but two readers wrote in and told me the work is by Mary Kinninger Walker.
There are so many murals in T or C, I didn’t have a chance to get photos of them all, even though I was in town for about three weeks during my last visit. (In my defense, it was cold out, and I didn’t walk around a lot.)
Another mural I like is this one of a black bird (crow? raven? I can never tell the difference) on a building on Main Street, near the Passion Pie Cafe. I like those puffy little clouds against the light blue sky too. According to the Spring 2015 Sierra County Artist Directory (volume 13), the bird and the sky were painted by Bonita Barlow in 1999.
I also like this painting of the Virgin Mary. (Love those spirals on her cheeks!) She’s painted on a building that’s behind a hurricane fence, so was difficult for me to get a good shot of her, but she is surrounded by color and intricate patterns. The Virgin was also painted by Mary Kinninger Walker.
Perhaps this manifestation of the Virgin was painted by one of the artists mentioned on the Sierra County, New Mexico website (http://www.sierracountynewmexico.info/attractions/art-in-truth-or-consequences-hillsboro-and-more/).
Truth or Consequences is also home to a growing number of outdoor murals; you’ll find them painted on bath houses, shops, homes, and even vacant buildings located in increasingly colorful alleyways.
I wish that website had shown some of those murals and shared the name of the artists.
I took the next three photos during my first visit to Truth or Consequences in March of 2014. This mural is painted on the back of a building and can be seen from the alley. I was attracted by the bright colors, the turtles, and the skeleton with wings. I found a photo of the skeleton in the above-mentioned Sierra County Artist Directory, and the piece was attributed to Mary Kinninger Walker and Donna Monroe.
The next three pieces were also painted by Mary Kinninger Walker. All of these are located on the back of buildings and can be seen from alleys.
The photo to the left is a detail of a jungle-scene mural that covers the entire back wall of a building. (If I remember correctly, the front of this building is on Broadway.) I love the way the building’s actual window becomes the window of the jungle hut. I love the alert black cat on the roof of the hut. I love the way the swing fits right into the scene. Anyone know who painted this one?
Just about anywhere downtown, one can see this big water tank on the hill and the mural by Anthony Penrock that wraps around it. According to the Online Highways website,
Artist Tony Pennock of Las Cruses, New Mexico painted three water tank murals in Truth or Consequences in the early 1990s. [This] One shows Apache horsemen traveling to rest at the hot springs.
These tags are on a (retaining?) wall on Main Street, near the old post office and the Geronimo Springs Museum. I think graffiti is as legitimate as any other art form.
Sometimes art is functional, like this blue door on Main Street. I really like the intricate design highlighted in that soft yellow.
I hope to go back to T or C someday and take more photos of public art to share here.
I took all of the photos in this post.
AWESOME POST!!! Love the pics and write up. I’m adding T or C to my list of “must see” places. One would have to be blind to not appreciate the art there. There’s only one thing better than great pictures and that’s seeing it yourself. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for reading, David, and thanks too for your positive and enthusiastic comment.
I love T or C, and I’m glad I could turn you on to it.
If you are van dwelling, it is easy to boondock at Wal-Mart and on residential streets in the bathhouse part of town. I joke and call the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in T or C the “Wal-Mart RV Park.” I’ve often seen everything from motorhomes to old-school RVs to stealth vans (I can spot ’em!) camped out in the Wal-Mart parking lot overnight, sometimes as many as a dozen at a time. There are also several state parks in the area with camping as low as $8-$10. (I will post info on those campgrounds in the next couple of days.) Also, if you want to stay in T or C for several days (or weeks or months), the Artesian RV park has very reasonable rates.
And I agree with you that while photos are nice to look at, seeing it for yourself is the way to go.
Thanks for the tour of T or C. I enjoy the artistry. I have never been so I will need to add it to my list.
I definitely recommend you add T or C to your list of places to visit, Brent. It is worth a couple of days (maybe even a week) of your time.
Me too, me too!! I love this! I’m on my way! Is it too cold in February? March? Love to all, Maggie A
Maggie, my first visit to T or C was in mid to late March and into early April, and the weather was very pleasant. I went back that same year the first weekend in May for about two weeks, and when I left, I was feeling rather warm.
The internet says the current (2:30 pm on 2-12-16) temperature is 71 degrees, with a predicted low tonight of 42. I’m not sure if that is normal for this time of year or a little high.
As always, thanks for reading and commenting.
Of course I like the beautiful blue and yellow doors…so functional but so eye catching….I want to go in.
I really like that door too, Jennifer. The door is on a storefront, but the store is not “open for business,” so I’ve never been able to walk through it.
Most of the colorful murals you have pictured here are painted by Mary Kinninger Walker, including the mixed media pieces. She does a lot of these on a volunteer basis and loves to decorate the town. Bonita Barlow painted the crow artwork on a building that housed the Flying Crow Gallery in the late 1990s. She painted murals in nearby Hillsboro too.
Thanks for this information, Rebecca. I appreciate you reading the post and sharing your knowledge.
I suspected those murals and the mixed media pieces were done by Mary Kinninger Walker, but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to give out incorrect info. I am glad you knew the answer and shared it with the rest of us.
Hi! Loved your post, forwarded to me by the “mystery” artist who did the reclining mixed-media lady, the side of the building behind her, the Madonna, and everything else down to (and not including) the jungle scene. She is my friend Mary Kinninger Walker. She has a degree in fine arts from San Diego State University. I interviewed her for a blog of my own, which I have yet to publish. I will let you know when it appears.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Muriel. I love hearing from my readers.
I was able to edit your post and put the closing parenthesis in the right place.
Thanks for letting me know that Mary Kinninger Walker is the mystery artist. Rebecca Speakes gave me the same info, but I haven’t yet gone in and made the changes. I’ll do that next.
Have you read the Invincible Summer anthologies by Nicole J. Georges? They are some of my favorites.
Hi Blaize, If you send me an e-mail so that I have your address, I can give you a copy of my interview with Mary, plus the photos of the rest of her work in ToC.
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