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Artists creating pieces for the McKinley County courthouse rotunda

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McKinley County and gallupARTS have selected three area artists to create site-specific artwork for the rotunda of the McKinley County Courthouse complex in  downtown Gallup. In partnership with the State of New Mexico’s Art in Public Places Program and gallupARTS, McKinley County leveraged “1% for the arts” funding to launch a commission-based project for public art to fill the circular rotunda with 360 degrees of beautiful, representative, and engaging art.

The selected artists are:

Monty Claw - Diné painter and silversmith Monty Claw, from Gallup will create three mural-sized paintings to hang in the alcoves surrounding the southern half of the rotunda. Claw will paint vibrant scenes representing McKinley County’s rich cultural tapestry and the people who call this area home.

Jerry Brown - Contemporary Diné painter Jerry Brown, from Mariano Lake, New Mexico, will be creating a series of large-scale, abstract canvases to hang along the second-floor overlook. The canvases will colorfully depict the night sky and be arranged in a pattern that evokes a paned window.

Tim Washburn - Diné sculptor Tim Washburn, from Fruitland, New Mexico, will create a monumental sculpture to be placed in the center of the rotunda’s two-story windows and to celebrate the area’s longest-running community event: the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.  Washburn will carve a representation of the  Ceremonial parade in relief on a stone column, on top  of which will stand the figure of an Eagle Dancer carved in wood.

In February 2023, McKinley County and NM AIPP opened a call to artists for artworks that “capture the  culture and celebrate the diversity and pride of living in McKinley County.” The three above-named artists were selected from a pool of five finalists, who themselves were selected from a pool of over 40 applicants.  The finalists are expected to complete and install their works within the next year.

“The rotunda is a space within the McKinley County Courthouse that has always been admired for its  elegance and architectural beauty,” Deputy County Manager Brian Money said. “Having a large public art  display within the rotunda will accentuate its beauty with impressive artwork created by some of the most  talented artists in the area. The artwork that was selected speaks to the very essence of who we are as a  community. McKinley County would like to give special appreciation to the artists, selection committee,  gallupARTS, and New Mexico Arts. It was certainly the work of the collective that made this project possible.”

Brown sad he was excited to be a part of the project.

“Being a part of a project that is showcasing a variety of McKinley artists  feels good,” he said.  “I am  excited to be installing art that is  meaningful to me. I feel like it will represent  all the people of the county.”

gallupARTS Executive Director Rose Eason said this was one of the biggest public art projects the county has ever done.

“gallupARTS is very proud to partner with  McKinley County to produce one of our  community’s largest-ever public art  projects,” she said. “This is a tremendous investment on the part of the county in local artists, in public art, and in the built environment of our community. It will be a point of pride for all of us.”

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