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City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department to Convene Leadership Council to Discuss the La Jornada Sculpture at the Albuquerque Museum

June 13, 2020

The City of Albuquerque’s Cultural Services Department will convene a Leadership Council comprised of community leaders and artists who will guide a community process to address calls for change of the La Jornada sculpture in front of the Albuquerque Museum.

The City has heard the recent concerns about this public art piece and is inviting advocates and community groups together for critical dialogue that includes multiple voices in order to foster creative solutions.

“Recent calls for altering La Jornada remind us that works of art often challenge communities to debate ideas, pursue empathy, grapple with multiple perspectives, reconcile conflict and interrogate history,” said Dr. Shelle Sanchez, Director of the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department. 

La Jornada is part of the City of Albuquerque’s Public Art collection and sits on the grounds of the Albuquerque Museum, a public institution dedicated to sharing “the stories of our rich heritage and many cultures.” The public art collection in Albuquerque is guided by the Albuquerque Arts Board, and their recommendations are not directed by the Mayor or city staff. Any public art piece requires a 90-day notice to the artist if the piece will be altered.​

“In our city, public art is created and guided by the community through an inclusive and public process, it’s actually a good thing that one-off politicians cannot unilaterally decide what happens to our public art,” stated Mayor Tim Keller. “It’s critical that this process and discussion is led by the diverse voices in our city.”

The Albuquerque museum property holds two works of art, created simultaneously to reflect a part of New Mexico history. La Jornada (2004) by Sonny Rivera and Betty Sabo depicts the expedition of Spanish settlers and soldiers. Numbe Whageh by New Mexico artist Nora Naranjo Morse of Santa Clara Pueblo is a contemplative earthwork that honors a place of solace and reflection commissioned as a response to La Jornada in 1998 (the work was completed in 2004). 

If community members are interested in participating in this community process they can email [email protected].