Public Art Keeps Rio Rancho’s “Vision” in Focus

Leather art masks by Matthew Lutz. Photo: Nathan Barnes /NM News Port

New Mexico is notorious for its love of art and now Rio Rancho’s newly-approved municipal bonds will provide approximately $137,000 to install new public art pieces as part of the “1% for the Arts” program.

Long-time traveler and local artist, Chase Daniels, said public art is absolutely necessary for the natural beauty of any city or state.

“I’ve been creating since I was about 10 years old, and to me nothing provides more insight into what someone is feeling or seeing, than their own creations,” Daniels said.

Artwork can be described as anything from music to architecture, and Daniels claims that no matter what it is, you can really get to know someone through their art.

Daniels has had a hand in a few projects funded through the proceeds from local bond issues, he said.

The 1% for the Arts was made mandatory in December 2010 as the Delma M. Petrullo Art in Public Places Ordinance stated, “an amount equal to (1%) of capital improvement bond proceeds is reserved for acquisition of art for public places in the city.”

Untitled. A leather art mask created by Matthew Lutz. Photo: Nathan Barnes / NM News Port

“A lot of people ask if I have a message with every piece I create, and the answer is both yes and no,” Daniels said. “I create mural paintings every day and some of them have specific meaning, while others are simply improvisation creating beauty in itself.”

Daniels favorite contribution is the placement of a photographic collage in the Mariposa Fire Station, he said. The piece is titled, “Willows in Snow on the Pecos River.”

“For me, having this piece chosen for viewing at Mariposa Fire Station was a really big deal,” Daniels said. “The project itself took me a long time, assembling all of the photos in the correct way, making sure all of the colors lined up, it was a relief to know it wouldn’t just sit with all of my other pieces. It is a reminder of the beauty in wildlife, and that even in the heat of the fire, there is always beauty somewhere close.”

Rio Rancho is known as the City of Vision, as seen on the city’s online homepage. There are a handful of public art installments throughout the city.

In the ‘Civic Circle’ or the ‘City Center’ area, the public can see art installations at the entrances of Rio Rancho City Hall, the UNM West Campus and the Hewlett-Packard (HP) site.

Chaco Rising” at city hall was officially dedicated in April of 2008. The piece was done by artist Jaymes Dudding and represents the ancient Sun Dagger Solar Calendar at Chaco Canyon, as described on Rio Rancho’s public website.

Also at city hall is, ‘Sun Mask’ by Don Redman which is meant to symbolize the growth and abundance, as the city itself is growing very rapidly, also listed with photographs on Rio Rancho’s public website.

The newest public art, installed in 2012, is on display at UNM West Campus and is titled, ‘Gateway to Lupus’ by Matthew Lutz.

“The Lupus constellation of the Lobo is what my piece was made after, being that it was placed right outside of UNM West,” Lutz said.

Lutz has been an art teacher at Rio Rancho High School since 1998.

“I am so grateful that my work was chosen to be outside of UNM West,” Lutz said. “I hope that any and all students see it and find inspiration of their own.”

Lutz aims to create something new every day, he said.

Leather art masks by Matthew Lutz. Photo: Nathan Barnes /NM News Port



“It is hard for me to imagine a life without art in it. Anything can be considered art and the best part is that everyone can be proud of whatever they create,” Lutz said.

Lutz has lived in Rio Rancho since the early 1990’s, and has watched the city grow.

“With the city becoming more populated, and with all the new buildings and businesses going up, there is a lot of opportunity for artists like myself to help add to the growing beauty,” Lutz said.

With Rio Rancho’s growth has come a series of elections in which citizens approved bond issues for capital improvements. The most recent bonds were to fix roads and provide new police and fire vehicles. But, under the Art in Public Places program, Rio Rancho also is gearing up for more commissions from local artists.

Peter Wells, Assistant City Manager, said bond proceeds from 2016 will be mingled with 2018 funds for grand total of over $1 million in funding for the arts.

“The 2016 funds from the municipal government bonds are available but have been saved, and will be used in conjunction with the road construction project slated to start later this year,” Wells said.

You can find a document with more information on the AIPP and how voting will be conducted here.

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