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Albuquerque Museum joins the world in celebration of sculpture during International Sculpture Day > #ISDay
The Albuquerque Museum sculpture collection includes works of art by many of the most important sculptors of the American Southwest. Indoor and outdoor sculptures featured.
The Dancer by Michael A Naranjo

Michael A. Naranjo (born 1944 Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; lives Albuquerque, New Mexico), The Dancer, 1990, bronze, 75 × 38 × 32 in., museum purchase, 1987 General Obligation Bonds, PC1990.25.1

Michael Naranjo grew up modeling small animals out of the clay his mother used for her pottery. In 1968 at the age of 22, while serving in the Vietnam War, Naranjo was struck by a grenade that blinded him and permanently maimed his right hand. In the hospital, he asked for some modeling clay and began creating small figures using only his left hand, initiating his career as a sculptor. His sculptures often depict his memories from his childhood: native dances, eagles and buffalo, women carrying water as well as mythical creatures such as mermaids and centaurs. Naranjo has sculpted using only his left hand and no tools for over 40 years, creating bold forms that viewers are encouraged to touch and experience through an alternative way of seeing.

Desert Fountain

Basia Irland (born 1946 Fort Smith, Arkansas; lives Albuquerque, New Mexico), Desert Fountain, 1997, bronze, 86 × 32 × 26 in., museum purchase, 1997 General Obligation Bonds, PC1999.11.1.1
Desert Fountain raises awareness around the scarcity of water in the Southwest. When the fountain is dry, as it often is; the viewer is faced with a stark and poignant scene. Seeing this parched fountain, along with etched lines on the ground where the water would otherwise run, is a wake-up call reminding viewers to value this resource and never take it for granted. On the sculpture itself, a river is etched onto the bronze surface of the middle arms like arteries flowing through our bodies as do streams through the natural world. On the lower arm an ancient astronomical drawing of the moon’s influence on tidal waters recalls the interconnectedness of the environment.

The Basque Sheepherder

Lincoln Fox (born 1942 Morrilton, Arkansas; lives Alto, New Mexico), The Basque Sheepherder, 1989, bronze
12 x 6 x 4 ft., museum purchase with funds from 1987 General Obligation Bonds; 1% for Art, City of Albuquerque; and the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, PC1990.24.1
Shepherding was a huge industry during the development of the American West and particularly in New Mexico. It is also an incredibly common practice of civilizations around the world throughout history. The Shepherd serves as an homage to this traditional practice in New Mexico as belonging to an industry of strength and dignity rooted in millennia-old practices. 


Felipe Archuleta (1910 Santa Cruz, New Mexico – 1991 Tesuque, New Mexico), Coyote, 1977, carved and painted wood with glass marbles and rubber, 38 × 64 × 10 in., gift of Mary and David Corley, PC2008.28.1
Few other carvers have been able to infuse their animals with such unexpected personality, and rough-hewn, dynamic energy as Felipe Archuleta. Coyote seems both fierce and playful, with a mouthful of scraggly teeth and sharp claws. Archuleta often incorporated common, everyday items into his works, such as the marbles he used for the coyote’s eyes and the inner-tube rubber for the claws.

Archuleta, a self-taught artist, began a prolific career in sculpture late in his life. He worked many years as a migrant farm laborer, cook, and stonemason for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) before joining a carpenters union in 1943. Upon retiring after more than twenty years in the carpentry trade, Archuleta pleaded with God that he be granted “some blessing or virtud (skill).” Thus inspired, he developed a talent for shaping commanding animal figures, none more so than this Coyote. 

Progress I

Luís Jiménez (1940 El Paso, Texas – 2006 Hondo, New Mexico), Progress I, 1974, painted cast fiberglass with electric lights, 126 × 108 × 90 in., museum purchase, 1981 General Obligation Bonds, PC1983.87.1z

One of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, Luis Jiménez, the child of Mexican immigrants, is a quintessentially American artist. This raucous, rococo, explosive sculpture of a Native American hunter on horseback, is the first of a three-part series commemorating humanity’s progression through the American west. The next sculpture in Jiménez’s series celebrated the Vaquero’s horsemanship while roping a Longhorn, and the third, which exists only as drawings, featured the arrival of the stagecoach.
Having mastered the art of figurative sculpture in New York, in the 1960s Jiménez selected fiberglass as his unexpected material. Previous public sculptural work dating back 5,000 years to the time of ancient Egypt had primarily been made of stone or metal. Although many first rejected Jimenez’s use of what they considered “plastic,” Jiménez brought this industrial, slick material into the world of art. His use of glitter and brilliant, airbrushed colors comes from the world of hot-rods and lowriders. 

Three Bicycles in a Rack

Fumio Yoshimura (1926 Japan-2002 New York, New York), Three Bicycles in a Rack, 1987, wood, 49 x 23 x 71 1/2 in. (Men’s Bicycle), 43 1/2 x 23 x 71 1/2 in. (Woman’s Bicycle), 53 x 29 1/2 x 77 in. (Child’s Bicycle), 31 1/4 x 20 x 46 in. (Bike Rack), gift of Rick and Sherry Levin, PC2004.11.1.1-4

Fumio Yoshimura’s body of work consists of a collection of precisely replicated everyday objects carved out of white linden wood. Born and raised in Japan, he moved to New York in his 30s where he shifted from painting to the creating the elaborate wood sculptures that he became known for. His meticulously constructed works that ranged in scale from pomegranates and cracked eggs to a life size hot dog stand could take months to complete. Like all of his works, Three Bicycles in a Rack is a remarkable example of the skill and craftsmanship Yoshimura employed throughout his career. 


Charles Strong (1938 San Francisco, California – 2013 Taos, New Mexico), Cervantes
, 1997
, Bronze, 84 x 84 x 132 in., gift of the FUNd at The Albuquerque Community Foundation, PC1997.56.1

Charles Strong’s large-scale bronze sculpture of the well-known Spanish novelist, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is an example of the sculptor’s exploration of scale, the figure, and monuments. Strong pays homage to the author known for his classic novel Don Quixote. He also experiments with concepts of perspective placing the head of the writer directly on the ground rather than upright, allowing the viewer to see the familiar face of Cervantes from one point of view and a completely abstract work from other points of view.

Born in 1938, Charles Strong was one of the youngest artists of the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism that included artists Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn, Jack Jefferson, Nathan Oliveira and Frank Lobdell. He considered himself a product of the American West and settled in Taos in 1989.

Numbe Whaghe

Nora Naranjo Morse (born 1953 Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; lives Española, New Mexico), Numbe Whageh (Our Center Place), 2004, earth, stones, piñon, juniper, mountain mahogany, chamisa, grasses, sage, yucca, winter fat, Apache plume, prickly pear, cholla, and other plants, petroglyphs, water, and wildlife, 100 x 150 ft., owned by the City of Albuquerque, Public Art Program
“Numbe Whageh comes from the Tewa language spoken by Pueblo peoples in what is now Northern New Mexico… it means a spiritual center place. This spiritual center place can be a sacred area… the term is also used metaphorically in referring to the sacred, spiritual place within a human being… The entrance faces in an eastwardly direction, which is symbolic of the many Pueblo doorways that face and greet the morning sun. The two-colored pathway represents the male and female entities that balance Pueblo life. The gradual incline of the spiral into the center is symbolic of the descent into a womb-like sacred place known in the Pueblo world as a Kiva... A small solar-powered fountain in the center of the spiral runs part of the year, and a stream of water flowing over a Pueblo water serpent carved into the surface of a boulder - “Ah ve nu”, the Tewa word for “water serpent” - is a symbol of water source in Pueblo culture and signifies goodness, well-being and prosperity.” 


Variacion Nuevo Mexico Sebastian

Sebastian, born Enrique Carbajal González (1947 Santa Rosalía de Camargo, Mexico; lives Mexico City, Mexico), Variacion Nuevo Mexico, 1989, painted steel, 28 x 20 x 23 ft., museum purchase, 1987 General Obligation Bonds and 1% for Art Funds, City of Albuquerque, PC1989.40.1

Sebastian is best known for his monumental sculptures in steel and concrete found in over 200 urban settings around the world. His art practice is steeped in math and science and he applies these disciplines to his sculptures, which exude a geometric poetry. Variacion Nuevo Mexico was inspired by the natural and built environment of New Mexico. The stacked cubes are reminiscent of the traditional architecture of Taos Pueblo and the smooth, sweeping lines of adobe churches. The work was commissioned in 1989 along with The Shepherd by Lincoln Fox to show guests what they can expect to find inside the museum: history, tradition, and innovation. 


Julia Resting

Betty Sabo (1928 Kansas City, Missouri – 2016 Albuquerque, New Mexico), Julia Resting, 1996, bronze, 51 × 51 × 48 in., museum purchase, 1993 General Obligation Bonds, PC1996.9.1

Betty Sabo spent most of her life in Albuquerque, studying painting with Carl Von Hassler at the University of New Mexico. Julia Resting is a sculpture and portrait of Julia Seligman, a long-time volunteer at Albuquerque Museum and friend to Sabo. Sabo’s paintings and bronze sculptures can be found in public spaces around Albuquerque.

EXTRA: DOWNLOAD a coloring page of Julia Resting and notice all the details in this much loved sculpture.  

VECTOR Julia Resting by Betty Sabo


Allan Houser (1914 Apache, Oklahoma - 1994 Santa Fe, New Mexico), Prayer, 1994, bronze, ed. 1/8, 82 x 43 x 17 in., museum purchase, 1997 General Obligation Bonds, PC1999.1.1

Allan Houser’s work is rooted in his Apache heritage while mirroring the contemporary world around him. His parents belonged to the Chiricahua Apache tribe of Mexico and New Mexico and both were jailed in St. Augustine, Florida in a prison camp after legendary Apache leader, Geronimo (first cousin to Allan’s father) surrendered to the U.S. Army in 1886. Allan was the first child born out of captivity. Houser worked for a number of years as a painter and later switched his focus to sculpture, moving to Santa Fe to teach at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Houser was interested in creating contemporary portrayals of Native Americans and over the span of his career, his work progressed from a naturalistic approach to simplified, monumental forms.
Having mastered the art of figurative sculpture in New York, in the 1960s Jiménez selected fiberglass as his unexpected material. Previous public sculptural work dating back 5,000 years to the time of ancient Egypt had primarily been made of stone or metal. Although many first rejected Jimenez’s use of what they considered “plastic,” Jiménez brought this industrial, slick material into the world of art. His use of glitter and brilliant, airbrushed colors comes from the world of hot-rods and lowriders.


Patrociño Barela (ca. 1900 Bisbee, Arizona – 1964 Cañon, New Mexico), Untitled, ca. 1940s, carved juniper with pencil marks, 14 1/4 × 8 × 5 1/2 in., gift of the estate of Constantine Aieollo, PC1977.55.6
Patrociño Barela is one of the most fascinating artists to ever emerge in New Mexico. He worked as a laborer until he began carving in his 30s. Thanks to generous government funding for the arts under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barela was soon able to make art full time. His sculptures quickly drew the attention of American and European artists and collectors, who saw in his uninhibited self-taught style, echoes of the modern art happening in New York and Europe, as well as the so-called “primitive” art from Africa, Oceania, and elsewhere that inspired it. Barela was one of the first New Mexican artists to have work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Nothing quite like his work had been seen before in New Mexico. His figures are not bound by any formal rules, strict ideas of realism, Hispanic tradition, or even exposure to modern art, but rather emerged directly from his encounter with the material, and the full engagement of his unique inspiration and life circumstances. As in this work, Barela occasionally identified the various figures in a carving with pencil numbers and then made a list identifying each numbered image. Unfortunately, most of the artist’s keys to his sculptures have been lost, thus most of his carvings remain mysteries. 


Albuquerque Museum Sculpture Garden

Learn more about sculpture on view at Albuquerque Museum.