Santa Fe considers putting temporary art installation where obelisk used to be

New Mexico News

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – People could soon see some art where the obelisk in the Santa Fe Plaza once stood. The monument that honored Civil War era soldiers who died in battle was torn down by protesters in October 2020, who said it was offensive to Indigenous people.

The City of Santa Fe is discussing putting a temporary art installation while it comes up with a permanent solution on what to put there. “The beautification project I think will be pleasing for visitors and locals but also be a stepping stone to further dialogue that the consultant team through CHART process will help nurture and develop and foster,” Pauline Kanako-Kamiyama, Director of the city’s Arts and Culture Department said.

On Thursday, the city’s art commission will discuss putting a temporary art installation where the obelisk once stood. It’s unclear what the piece could look like but it would be up for one to three months during the summer season.

Kanako-Kamiyama said it is a way to welcome people back to the area as the state reopens to locals and tourists. “We’re really looking as a city to be part of that summer reopening coming out from the pandemic. And that downtown area will be activated once again when we have summer music on the plaza starting in July,” she said.

Meanwhile, the city is still working on finding a permanent solution for the center of the plaza. In January, the city created the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth, or CHART process.

In that, the city will contract with an experienced coordinator to facilitate discussions with the community on what to put where the obelisk once stood. According to the CHART’s page on the city’s website, “these sessions will be designed to promote broad cross-cultural understanding and racial equity, and to inform decisions for statues and monuments as well as short-, medium-, and long-term responses to ensure community healing and reconciliation.”

The city is currently in the procurement phase of that process to select a consultant. One business owner on the plaza called the possibility of getting temporary art ‘refreshing’ but said the overall process is taking too long.

“I think that’s a positive and forward step, at least something. I mean the box and Christmas trees were nice in the winter time for the plaza and the lights but yeah, we’re the second or third major art market in the world, we should have something at our pinnacle place here at the plaza,” said Ann Thomas, general manager of Sunwest On The Plaza. “I understand temporary, let’s beautify it. Let’s do something. And what it’s going to be, I’ll know it’s temporary so at least we know there’s an end point. But the permanent concept, yeah, that needs to go faster.”

Once the Santa Fe Arts Commission comes up with a set of reccomendations on potential projects, they will be considered by the city manager and director of the Community Development Department. The budget for a potential, temporary installation is $5,000-$7,500 from the city’s Arts and Culture Department.

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