Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Artists Unveil Oņate Proposal

By Anthony DellaFlora Journal Staff Writer A $600,000 memorial honoring the meeting of 
the Spanish and Native American cultures in New Mexico more than 400 years ago will 
have to wait a few more weeks for approval from the City Council.

The City Council was scheduled to vote Monday on the Cuarto Centenario memorial design 
by artists Betty Sabo, Reynaldo "Sonny" Rivera and Nora Naranjo-Morse. But councilors 
instead sent the matter to its Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee next month. If 
it passes out of committee, it would then go to the full council in February. 
Councilor Alan Armijo said he wanted to give the public more time to comment on the 
proposed piece.

Members of the public did get to see sketches and a clay model of the piece for the 
first time at Monday's council meeting. Most appeared impressed with the design, which 
has been months in the making. The memorial would take up the northwest corner of 
Tiguex Park, at 19th and Mountain NW just east of Old Town Plaza. The piece includes a 
10-by-60-foot section called "La Jornada," or "The Journey," which includes more than 
a dozen life-size bronze figures representing New Mexico colonizer Juan de Oņate and 
the band of settlers and livestock that came north with him from Mexico in 1598. Just 
west of the group is a wall that would contain bas-reliefs and historical information. 
The settlers are forging northward into an environmental landscape designed by 
Naranjo-Morse. The centerpiece is a spiral that will be formed with rock walls, a 
stone pathway and lots of trees and native plants. 
Naranjo-Morse said her portion of the memorial is intended to capture the area as it 
was before the Spanish arrived. As visitors step into the spiral from the west, off 
19th NW, they'll be covered by shade trees. As they move through the spiral, on a 
stone path, they'll emerge into the light. The spiral eventually winds around to a 
small reflecting pool in the center, surrounded by boulders. At that point, visitors 
can look up and see the band of settlers arriving. 
Naranjo-Morse said she tried to envision what her ancestors might have seen as the 
Spanish entered their land for the first time. All the artists said they were glad to 
finally get the design before the public. "There's been a lot of question about what 
is going on concerning this project. I think at this point it's very important to 
start contextualizing it so the public is aware of the nuances. Because in the nuances 
is what really makes it very, very poignant -- the whole message, both the environment 
and 'La Jornada,' '' said Naranjo-Morse. Millie Santillanes, one of the longtime and 
most ardent supporters of a monument to Oņate, feared the delay could be the result of 
councilors' concerns about the cost, which has more than tripled since the inception 
of the project.
  "We need to stand back and let them understand what has happened -- where a request 
for a simple bust that would have cost less than $100,000 has mushroomed, so that we 
can be politically correct, to $550,000 (not including the cost of park improvements). 
"We, the proponents of the statue, didn't make it mushroom," Santillanes added. "So 
they can't punish us if it gets so huge and so big. They can't come back and say 'Hey, 
it's too late, we now get rid of it. You blew it.' We didn't blow it. We asked for 
something very simple." 
Santillanes said she was happy with the portrayal of the settlers. "It is magnificent. 
We would be the pride of the Southwest with this memorial." The project as conceived 
in its current form began more than two years ago under the Albuquerque Arts Board, 
and has been hotly debated in the community. Since early 1998, dealing with the 
controversy, focused mainly on colonizer Juan de Oņate, has involved consultants, 
mediators and direct intervention by Mayor Jim Baca and the City Council. Oņate has 
been hailed by supporters as the founder of New Mexico, but hated by detractors for 
his mistreatment of Native Americans, particularly at Acoma Pueblo.
Photo of model of Oņate memorial design
Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)

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