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Nov 17

Artists Rights Matter

Posted on November 17, 2023 at 9:29 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

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Recently a community member took it upon himself to “restore” a mural that had been badly tagged. He posted his project on social media asking for community participation and financial support. This sparked a community wide outcry of support for someone taking action when the City, who owns the mural, has not. Not only was the fact that this is an act of vandalism downplayed in this discussion, but even more disturbing, artist rights were never part of this debate.   

While amateur or emerging artists may not be familiar with the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), professional artists live by it. VARA protects “an artist’s moral rights regarding his/her artwork – the right to correct attribution and the right of artistic integrity.” The artist receives full protection for as long as they live.  

In this case, the VARA rights under integrity state an artist has the right to “prevent any intentional modification of your work which would damage your honor or reputation” and has “the right to prevent any intentional or grossly negligent destruction of your work if it is of ‘recognized stature’”.  

Anthony Pennock, a renowned artist who painted the mural in collaboration with Joe Ireland (who has since passed away) is still protected by VARA, and he was understandably very upset by the “improvements” that the community member has made to his artwork. The City takes VARA rights very seriously; our contracts with artists include a clause that says we will do our due diligence to contact the artist first when repair work is needed on their artwork. That is why we requested that the community member cease painting over the mural, as in his enthusiasm, he appeared to have forgotten or ignored the fact that the mural he was painting over was someone else’s artwork. 

La Llorona under a bridge, in progress of being painted

"La Llorona" mural by Anthony Pennock and Joe Ireland

La Llorona mural vandalism

"La Llorona" mural after modifications by community member

On a positive note, we are happy that the community values public art in the City and wants to see it repaired/restored when needed. Maintaining the City’s public art collection is a priority to the program and the Quality of Life department. We are currently assessing the collection to prioritize the artwork that needs the most attention first, while at the same time looking for the funding that is required. The Anthony Pennock mural was always a part of that assessment. 

As a result of this incident, the mural is now a restoration project rather than a repair. We will work with Mr. Pennock to bring his mural back to its original signature aesthetic that Mr. Pennock has worked his entire career to establish, which upholds his outstanding reputation as a professional artist. 

If you see tagging or graffiti on a public artwork, please report it by emailing or calling 575/541-2780. You can also send a message via Facebook or Instagram @lcpublicart.

Rubber Ducks Blog BannerRubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to

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Nov 01

Wherever You Go, You Are Here

Posted on November 1, 2023 at 11:14 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

Public Art City LogoYears ago, I attended a fundraising event in Las Cruces that had the typical silent auction found at such events. I browsed the items with no intention of bidding, until I saw a whimsical, silly piece of art that made me laugh.  

I can’t remember how many times I went back to look at the small sculpture of a fish sitting on a couch. It was colorful and made of paper-mâché. The symbolism was satirical which appealed to my snarky humor. It was from an artist new to me – Stephen Hansen. I resisted bidding on it, but I thought about that little fish for a long time after. It became “my fish that got away” story. 

Pack o Pups

"Pack-O-Pups" sculpture by Stephen Hansen 

Some years later, as I was looking at the City’s public art inventory, I noticed an artistic bus shelter that had a very familiar aesthetic but no artist credit. I did a little digging and sure enough, it’s the work of Stephen Hansen, the same artist who’s sculpture I still regret not purchasing.  

I have since discovered that the little fish artist is a world-renown artist living in Las Cruces. He shows his work in elite galleries throughout the country, has art pieces in the Smithsonian and other major museums. His work is collected by art lovers everywhere. For Las Cruces to have a bus shelter designed by him is very cool.  

Hansen Here Kitty Kitty

"Here Kitty Kitty" sculpture by Stephen Hansen 

In October of 2003, the City contracted with local businessman Richard Parra to construct the bus shelter. Mr. Parra commissioned Mr. Hansen to design an art component to it. The artist fabricated a metal sculpture in the shape of a man sitting at the bus stop with an arrow pointing down with the words “You Are Here”, which is the title of the piece. The sculpture was designed to have a natural rust patina, a technique that works well with our desert environment. It’s such a simple design but sparks a happy reaction, as does most of his work. A mural, painted by Las Cruces High School students at the same time, serves as a backdrop. “You are Here” is located on Espina Ave. near Tony Gomez Park.  

You Are Here (KW)HR

"You Are Here" bus shelter by Stephen Hansen on Espina Ave.

How great is it to have a Stephen Hansen original gracing the side of a city street? Residents would probably be surprised to hear that fans from all over the world would be thrilled to visit this sculpture in person. Las Crucens own an art piece that could easily be in any Hansen art collection, available for their enjoyment any time. I may have lost out on the little fish on the couch, but now, whenever I see “my” Hansen sculpture as I drive by, it makes me smile.  

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Rubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to

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Oct 11

Fall for Public Art

Posted on October 11, 2023 at 9:05 AM by Ceci Vasconcellos

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October is Las Cruces Public Art Month and we have lots to celebrate. The City Art Board and Las Cruces Public Art (LCPA) have been very busy this past year.  

The first ever “Art Stop” bus shelter art exhibit launches this month. Original artworks will be displayed at six bus shelters throughout the city for an entire year. The inaugural “Art Stop” is a pilot project, the brainchild of City Art Board members who wanted to create an opportunity to showcase regional artists. If all goes well, we hope to extend the exhibit to include more locations, more featured artists, and more art to display. Look for the official announcement with locations coming soon. 

Teal bus stop with the Las Cruces Public Art signage and QR Code on a poster

One of the six bus shelters that will feature artwork selected for "Art Stop" exhibit.

Klein Park in the Mesquite Historic District is getting an art mural along the perimeter walls. Artist Diego Medina begin work on the project in mid-September and hopes to complete the project by the end of October. It’s not a small endeavor by any means; he plans to solicit the help of students and neighborhood residents. Swing by and see his progress and process. 

Klein Park Art Concept 3

Proposed design by Diego Medina for Klein Park walls. 

Did you know the LCPA program has a virtual art tour with an interactive public art map that highlights the Las Cruces Public Art Collection? “Unhidden Gems: Public Art in the City of Las Cruces” has clickable dots that lead you to art in various areas of the city. The art tour includes photos of the artwork, its name, the artist, the year it was created, and information about the artwork. “Unhidden Gems” can be accessed with electronic devices by clicking on this link. However, nothing beats seeing the real artwork. Look for your favorites in person.

Repair of the Earth and Cosmos mosaic in La Placita is on track to being completed. Artist Glenn Schwaiger begins the final phases of the restoration process in his studio this month, and if all goes well, will install the restored slab at the site by early next year, if not sooner. Damage was caused by a watermain break a few years ago. 

Artist kneeling on broken section marking tiles with numbers and corresponding outline on paper.

Artist Glenn Schwaiger maps the broken slab in an earlier phase of repair plan. 

Exciting new projects are in the process of being developed as well. The Public Art Program with the City Art Board are in various stages of research for new projects being funded by General Obligation bonds. Projects include new public art at the future Fire Station #9 in District 5, the East Mesa Public Recreation Complex, and other locations to be determined. The process for selecting artwork for these projects includes public input at selection committee meetings; all are welcome to attend. Dates will be posted on our website, social media and by press release. If you are interested in attending, sign up for notifications from Calendar or News Flash at

The City Art Board and LCPA program focus on City projects, but there are so many other great art projects happening around the city by other organizations and private property owners. It’s very inspiring when the community appreciates and embraces public art. Happy Las Cruces Public Art Month everyone! 

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Rubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program of the Quality of Life Department, City of Las Cruces, to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to

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