Don Juan de Oñate - La Jornada - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member kameniev
N 35° 05.881 W 106° 40.036
13S E 348033 N 3885184
Quick Description: Sculpture depicting Don Juan de Oñate entitled "La Jornada" at the Albuquerque Museum of Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Location: New Mexico, United States
Date Posted: 11/5/2010 11:39:26 AM
Waymark Code: WMA2AH
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member sfwife
Views: 6

Long Description:
This sculpture is made up of many pieces and depicts Don Juan de Oñate leading the first group of Spanish colonists into New Mexico. This piece has created quite a bit of controversy among many who feel that Onate used cruel methods against the Native Americans in the area and those who feel that his contributions toward settling the area outweigh these methods. For those who are interested in the history behind this sculpture please read the following from trhe local weekly periodical "The Alibi":

By Katy June-Friesen

Throughout New Mexico's proud but troubled history, Don Juan de Oñate has remained a divisive figure. Oñate brought Spanish culture to the region in 1598 when he led the first Spanish settlers to New Mexico and established the first capital. Yet by 1608 the Spanish Crown had removed Oñate from his position as governor and sent him back to Mexico City where he was tried for mistreating Pueblo Indians and abusing his power.

Four hundred years later, New Mexico has evolved into a state that prides itself on its cultural pluralism. Yet historical memory runs deep here. In a region with large Hispanic and Native American populations, history is a slippery subject, especially when it comes to Oñate. For many, Oñate is still the heroic founder who brought their ancestors to the area. For others, Oñate is still a brutal conqueror. Any mention of the Spaniard's name is likely to bring an emotional response from long-time New Mexicans.

The source of continuing controversy over Oñate involves Spanish treatment of the Pueblos. Soon after the Spanish arrived, the Acoma Pueblo Indians refused to submit to their power. To illustrate their defiance, Acoma warriors killed 13 Spanish soldiers, one of whom was Oñate's nephew. In response, Oñate and the Spanish army killed hundreds of Acoma people and amputated half of one foot from each of the male prisoners who were over the age of 25. Women and children were enslaved. These wounds, inflicted four centuries ago, have never entirely healed.

Now, after nearly a decade of controversy about a public art memorial to Oñate, the Cuarto Centenario memorial has been erected in front of the Albuquerque Museum. Paid for by tax dollars and private donations, it might well be the most contentious piece of public art in city history.

In December 1997, artist Nora Naranjo-Morse got a call from Gordon Church, Albuquerque's director of public art. He asked for her help in creating a memorial to commemorate the 400th anniversary of New Mexico's founding. Eight years later, she now realizes she had no idea what she was getting into. “It's changed my life,” she says.

To quell brewing controversy, the Albuquerque Arts Board had decided a Native artist must be included in the memorial project. Naranjo-Morse joined artists Betty Sabo, who is Anglo, and Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera, who is Hispanic, to create the memorial. Yet although the Cuarto Centenario memorial evolved into an expansive piece that represents both Hispanic and Native American perspectives, the process behind the piece was much less harmonious. The Cuarto Centenario was not actually a tricultural collaboration. Instead, Naranjo-Morse ended up working on her own piece while Sabo and Rivera worked on the bronze of Oñate and the settlers.

Naranjo-Morse, who was educated in public school, had been told as a child that Oñate was a hero. As an adult, she realized just how little she knew about New Mexican history. “I realized that if I didn't know, maybe there were generations of Pueblo people like me who hadn't been given the complete story of Pueblo colonization,” she says. “Sure enough, many of the Pueblo people who I'd spoken to had been given basically the same glorified, romantic and antiseptic version of what took place during that period of time. An Acoma woman in her 60s told me not only did she not get information in school, but she didn't get it at home, simply because the historical trauma was so great. Her family didn't speak of that dark period of time—as if to utter Oñate's name would bring illness.”

Naranjo-Morse began to research the time period she was supposed to represent artistically. The more she researched, the more she realized how Pueblo history had been marginalized in textbooks.

Nearly a decade since the memorial was first proposed, the result is now installed in front of the Albuquerque Museum. The public art piece, which includes two separate works, is called Cuarto Centenario, in reference to the 400th anniversary of Spanish arrival in New Mexico.

The genesis of the piece came in 1996, when a group of citizens led by Santillanes began advocating for a sculpture that celebrated La Entrada, the six-month walk of Spanish families to found the northernmost boundary of New Spain, which would become New Mexico. Santillanes says she approached then Mayor Martin Chavez with a proposal. Gordon Church, who was director of public art at the time, remembers that Santillanes approached him with the idea, which he then took to the Arts Board. The original proposal was a bust of Oñate to be placed Old Town, and the sculpture was to be completed in time for New Mexico's 400th birthday.

Today, the final form of the Cuarto Centenario hints at the years of controversy and compromise that shaped it. The memorial includes two separate works of art. One is entitled La Jornada. It portrays, in bronze, Spanish settlers traveling into New Mexico with Oñate, a Native guide from Mexico, soldiers and a priest.

The second piece is an earth sculpture called Numbe Whageh that represents the Native American experience and worldview. In Tewa, Numbe Whageh means the center place, or the place of the earth. The earth sculpture, on which native plants grow, spirals inward to a small spring at the center. Together, the two sculptures and the dirt courtyard between them occupy the north end of the newly remodeled Albuquerque Museum grounds, at the corner of Mountain and 19th Street.

In 1997, the Albuquerque Arts Board, after approving the Oñate memorial project, mandated that a Native artist be hired. Sabo, who has done many projects for the city, and Rivera, who had done a sculpture of Oñate near Española, had already been selected for the project.

The board created the Cuarto Centenario Committee to carry out and monitor the memorial creation. This committee, according to the city's public art guidelines, was responsible for developing criteria for the project and approving artists' prospectuses. The committee included community members from different cultural backgrounds and occupations, including artists.

In January of 1998, the Arts Board approved a prospectus from the artists to make a $125,000 memorial. Soon after, the artists presented their model of the memorial to the Cuarto Centenario Committee at a public meeting. The model showed steps leading to the top of the monument, where a bronze of Oñate and the top of a bronze kiva appeared. Oñate was kneeling with a cross in one hand and a sword in the other. Moccasins led from the kiva and down the steps, but one moccasin was missing a mate. The missing moccasin was a reference to atrocities at Acoma.

The Arts Board rejected this design. In March, under recommendations from the Cuarto Centenario Committee, the board called for a redesign of the project, asking the artists to focus less on Oñate and more on the Spanish settlers who came with him. The board also specified the memorial should represent the Native experience before, during and after the Oñate-led settlement. The cost of the project at this time was reported to be $200,000. It was clear that the memorial would not be completed in the year of New Mexico's 400th anniversary.

During the public meetings about the memorial, a diverse group of Albuquerque residents gathered to voice their opinions about the project. The meetings were often tense and emotional, even nasty.

As public discussion of the project escalated, Arturo Sandoval, who had been appointed by Mayor Jim Baca to head the 1997 Cuarto Centenario celebrations, began working with the group Circle of Voices. The group opposed the sculpture because of the Native experience with Oñate. Sandoval says, “My sense was that you can't celebrate your culture if it causes pain or injury to another.”

Circle of Voices was organized by Acoma members Darva Chino and her husband Conroy, a reporter for KOB-TV, Channel 4, at the time. He is now the state's secretary of labor. Circle of Voices was composed of Natives, Hispanics and other people of various backgrounds. Conroy Chino says he became involved in challenging the decision to honor Oñate because it seemed it was made without sensitivity to how Oñate and others conquistadors treated Native people.

Chino says Acoma Pueblo was very upset. It seemed like the Oñate memorial project was an intentional effort to open old wounds. The governor of Acoma even contacted Mayor Chavez to express displeasure. Chino says the Acoma people felt they'd moved beyond the tragedies of colonization and achieved some level of racial peace. New Mexicans had come to coexist as a blend of cultures. For Natives, says Chino, it didn't make sense to move forward in constructing something that wasn't a reflection of contemporary reality. Once the Native people got past tragedy and violence, says Chino, they chose tolerance and harmony over warfare.

Additionally, Tiguex Park, where the sculpture was to be installed, is a park dedicated to the memory of the Tiwa people, the ethnicity of both Isleta and Sandia Pueblos. To install a sculpture of Oñate in this park was an insult to many Native Americans.

Meanwhile, Sonny Rivera, the Hispanic artist working on the project, was about to learn firsthand just what a contentious figure Oñate remains to be. Back in 1992, he'd created a bronze statue of the Spaniard at the Oñate Monument and Visitors Center just northeast of Española. In 1998, to remind New Mexicans of Oñate's atrocities against the Acoma people, vandals succeeded in chopping off the statue's right foot.

The city wanted the Cuarto Centenario sculpture to be a solution to historical trauma, says Naranjo-Morse. “This particular project wasn't going to have that easy solution,” she says. “It was very difficult to navigate through this [territory] that had been started almost 400 years ago. We're wearing different clothing and living at a different time, but I truly believe many of the same issues still exist. That's why this project is epic; it comes back to remind us that historical trauma continues unless we actively and frankly seek solutions.”

Rivera is originally from Mesquite, which is right on the Camino Real. “History's always been there for me when I was growing up,” he says. Rivera eventually recast the foot that was severed off his statue of Oñate near Española, although the seam is still visible. In preparation for the Cuarto Centenario project, Rivera did research about Oñate and the route he took through New Mexico. Rivera himself travels the Camino Real route when he visits the foundry he uses in Mexico, which is where the bronze pieces for La Jornada were made.

For Rivera, politics are secondary to the art form. Still, he did feel honored to be able to represent the contributions of the Spanish. “I feel the Spanish presence here was justified,” he says. He adds that the Spanish brought mining, agriculture, fruit trees, silver-smithing, animals and knowledge we still use today. Although he acknowledges that Natives were here first, he also believes New Mexico is the only state with intact Pueblos because “The Spanish kept them from fighting each other.” Rivera is also skeptical about reports of Spanish atrocities. “There's nothing they can prove about cruelty ... it's all hearsay.”

Yet with any ethnic group he depicts in sculpture, Rivera says he wants to make viewers proud of their own people. For example, he tried to depict the Native Mexican guide with Oñate as strong and proud. Additionally, Rivera is glad the Cuarto Centenario project ended up addressing the Spanish-Native conflict less overtly than in earlier designs. He says, “I wanted this to be a peaceful piece.”

In Rivera and Sabo's bronze sculpture, a group of Spanish settlers travel behind Oñate with children, animals and supplies. Rivera sculpted Oñate, the Native guide, soldiers, cattle, horses, oxen and the carreta (ox-drawn cart) with people struggling to push it up the hill. Sabo sculpted the women, children, sheepherders, Churro sheep, goat, donkey, pig, baby and priest in the group. The man with the lamb on his shoulders, made by Sabo, was modeled after Mayor Chavez and the older woman reaching out to the young children was modeled after Santillanes.

Despite the continued bitter debate over the sculptures, Circle of Voices' Sandoval says the Cuarto Centenario project also created useful dialogue among citizens. The most positive thing, he says, is the numerous calls he got from teachers who wanted to use the conflict in their lesson plans. He believes it was important to make Albuquerqueans consider state history and cultural relationships. “We tend not to look back or worry about our past,” Sandoval says. Similarly, Rivera thinks La Jornada is an interactive piece for families and children, and Naranjo-Morse is working on a teachers' package on her piece for schools on the Pueblos.

The project turned into something more meaningful than ever expected, says Gore. By juxtaposing Native and Western worldviews, the Cuarto Centenario project speaks both to the situation 400 years ago and today. “There were many political decisions made ... in the end the political process gave something great to Albuquerque,” she says. “As the controversy grew, so did the piece.”

Yet the city still appears to be nervous about residents' reaction to the artwork. On a light pole by La Jornada, a security camera aims down at the bronze figure of Oñate, focusing on his feet.
URL of the statue: Not listed

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