Public Art at UNM: Writing and Research

About this page

This is a list of selected works of public art on the UNM  Albuquerque campus; it is by no means a complete listing of UNM's large Public Art Collection.  The below list is arranged alphabetically by the artist's last name.  The page is a work in progress and more works will be added over time.

Kenneth Adams, "Three Peoples Murals"

Kenneth Adams' Three Peoples Murals represent a Depession-era utopian view of culture in New Mexico, celebrating the contributions of Native, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures, with the three groups working together to face the future. Adams came to UNM to teach art and was commissioned to paint these murals in Zimmerman, which was then the new campus library. He had a long and distinguished career at the University, teaching in the in the Department of Art until 1963.
LOCATION: Zimmerman Library, West Wing
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
SIZE: 4 panels

Donna Lorraine Contractor, "Reds, Blacks & Golds: Fractured Square Series"

Donna Lorraine Contractor has been a resident of Albuquerque since 1988. Her work is found in many venues including the Albuquerque Museum, the International Folk Arts Museum in Santa Fe, and a number of galleries and private collections. "Reds, Blacks & Golds: Fractured Square Series" was added to the library by the University's Art in Public Places program.

LOCATION: Zimmerman Library
SIZE: 64" x 40"
DATE: 2011 (installed)

Jesus Guerro Galvan, "Union de las Americas"

Jesus Guerrero Galvan (1910-1973), was a member of the Mexican Muralist Movement of the early 20th century.  He was an artist-in-residence at UNM from 1942-1943.  This mural represents the meeting of North and South America under the influence of Liberty, who hovers above the scene.  The technique is buon fresco, in which the artist creates an image by applying water-based paint on wet plaster. When the water evaporates, the painting is a permanent feature of the wall.
LOCATION: Scholes Hall, east wing
MEDIUM: True fresco
SIZE: 98" x 209"
DATE: 1942-43

Lloyd Hamrol, "Highground"

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts with matching funds from UNM, Lloyd Hamrol's Highground is an example of Earth Art, both incorporating and transforming the natural landscape.  "Preoccupied with thoughts about the scales of justice, I created a corresponding image in the landscape: an imperfect arena where participants would experience the shifting balance of a powerful force."  Lloyd Hamrol,  (From: Lloyd Hamrol: Works, projects, proposals: March 18-April 13, 1986 (Los Angeles: Municipal Art Gallery, 1986), 24.)
LOCATION: Bratton Hall, north courtyard (North Campus)
MEDIUM: Sod and concrete
SIZE: 5' x 61' x 53'
DATE: 1980

Basia Irland, "Xeric Fragrance Garden Rainwater Harvesting Project"

Basia Irland is a Professor Emerita of the UNM Department of Art and Art History.  A self-described Water and Eco Artist, Irland established the UNM Art and Ecology Program.  Her "Xeric Fragrance Garden Rainwater Harvesting Project" harvests rainwater collected from the roof of the Student Union Building, channeling it into this garden of low water use plants, with runoff flowing eventually into the Rio Grande. With a tiled wall inscribed with the word for "water" in 64 languages, this piece reminds us of the need to conserve one of our most valuable resources, water.
LOCATION: North west side of Student Union Building
MEDIUM: Mixed Media
DATE: 2004

Bob Haozous, "Cultural Crossroads of the Americas"













Bob Haozous is a contemporary Native artist who challenges internalized views on race and culture. Born in Los Angeles, California in 1943, the son of famous Chiricahua Apache artist, Allan Houser, he studied art at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, where he earned a BFA in sculpture in 1971.  "Cultural Crossroads of the Americas" raised significant legal questions about the right of the artist to express his creative vision and the contractual rights of the owner of a commissioned artwork. (Note the difference between the work on the left, as it originally looked and the way it stands today on the right.)

MEDIUM: Corten steel
SIZE: 29' x 25'
DATE: 1996 (concertina wire removed in 2000)

James Jacob, Jose L. Rodriquez, & Jose Lazcarro Toquero, "Culturas del Sol"

This Talavera tile mural was executed through the collaborative efforts of the faculty members of the Art Department at the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla/Cholula, Mexico, and the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico. It is one of the two sister murals which reside at both these universities as a symbol of the spirit of exchange and collaboration that exists between our two countries. James Jacob is a Professor Emeritus of the UNM Department of Art and Art History.
"The murals were made possible through support from the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts, the Universidad de las Americas, and the United States Information Agency." (from plaque by mural)
LOCATION: Foyer of the Center for the Arts
SIZE: 30" x 12"
DATE: 1996

Luis Jimenez, "Fiesta Dancers"

Born in El Paso, the son of Mexican immigrants, Luis Jimenez (1940-2006), was one of the great American artists of the 20th century.  "Fiesta Dancers" is a tribute to the folkloric jarabe dance of Mexico.  Whether depicting steel workers, farmers, or, in this case, dancers, Jimenez celebrates the un-idealized, the cotidienne.  This work's colorful and muscular figures are typical of Jimenez' energetic style.

LOCATION: Cornell Mall, east of the Center for the Arts
MEDIUM: Fiberglass
SIZE: 9' h.
DATE: 1996

Youn Ja Johnson, "Tribute to Mother Earth"

Youn Ja Johnson attended UNM where she earned a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Master of Fine Arts  from the UNM Department of Art and Art History.  She has also taught classes in the UNM departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies. Designed to honor her own grandmother, all grandmothers, and Mother Earth, she generously donated this work to UNM in 1992.  The University added the fountain and the seasonal plantings later, making "Tribute to Mother Earth" a piece of hydraulic art, art that incorprates water as part of its expression.

LOCATION:  Yale Mall, northwest of Art Building
MEDIUM:  Granite
SIZE: 12 pillars, each 84" h
DATE 1992

Frank Morbillo, "Breaking Point"

Frank Morbillo grew up on Long Island and became interested in ceramics at an early age.  He was exposed to sculpture and metalworking while attending Alfred University for his undergraduate degree. Before attending the University of Montana for graduate school, Morbillo worked for two years in construction, about which he states, “Learning how to build help[ed me] learn how to build something that endures. That maintains as an important part of everything I do today" (Matthews Gallery Interview).  After graduate school he moved to Santa Fe where he spent 22 years working at the Shidoni Foundry. He currently lives and works in Santa Fe.  "Breaking Point" refers to the twisting stainless steel column, braced at the midpoint by cast bronze. The juxtaposition between smooth and rough edges, sculpted, and natural, can be seen as reflective of his own growth processes from traditional academies of ceramics and sculpture, construction processes, and the love of the Montanan and Southwestern natural environments he has often expressed in interviews and writings.

LOCATION: East of Centennial Engineering Center
MEDIUM: Stainless steel and bronze
SIZE: 70" x 20" x 18"
DATE: 2010

Frank Morbillo, "Dialog"

Frank Morbillo grew up on Long Island and became interested in ceramics at an early age.  He was exposed to sculpture and metalworking while attending Alfred University for his undergraduate degree. Before attending the University of Montana for graduate school, Morbillo worked for two years in construction, about which he states, “Learning how to build help[ed me] learn how to build something that endures. That maintains as an important part of everything I do today" (Matthews Gallery Interview).  After graduate school he moved to Santa Fe where he spent 22 years working at the Shidoni Foundry. He currently lives and works in Santa Fe.  

"Dialog" is an example of Non-Objective or Non-Representational Art, art which makes no reference to the visual world.  Rather, through an interesting combination of geometric masses, Morbillo leaves the interpretation of the work to the viewer.  Is the dialog between the stacked bronze masses?  Or between viewer and the work?  Or the sculpture and its environment?

LOCATION: East of Centennial Engineering Center
MEDIUM: Bronze   
SIZE: 35" x 18" x 68"
DATE: 2010

Thomas Morin, Tribal Rug Series Number Eighteen

Thomas Morin holds a Masters of Fine Art degree in sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He has taught art at the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Akron in Ohio, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  He currently lives and works in Cerrillos, New Mexico.  He is known for using unconventional materials in his work.  In this piece he uses discarded sanding belts from a power sander.  The wood resins imbedded in the belts give the work luminous colors and textures.

LOCATION: Fine Arts & Design Library, 4th floor of Pearl Hall, east end lounge area
MEDIUM: Abrasive belts and wood
SIZE: 84" x 43" x 3"
DATE: 2009 

Photograph provided by UNM Public Art Inventory.

Michael Naranjo, "Spirit Mother"

Michael Naranjo is a native of Santa Clara Pueblo.  While a boy, his mother taught him to work with clay and it seemed natural that he would become an artist like so many in his family.  Michael served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War and, at the age of 22, everything changed; he was blinded and lost much of the use of his right hand in combat.  He could have given up.  Instead he overcame this hardship and has become highly regarded as a sculptor, often referred to as "The Artist Who Sees with His Hands."  The sculpture was originally designed with a self-circulating fountain, with water flowing out of the olla the figure carries (as shown here).
LOCATION: South east side of Campus Bookstore
MEDIUM: Bronze
SIZE: 63" h.
DATE: 1996

Bruce Nauman, "Center of the Universe"

Bruce Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico, and is represented by the Sperone Westwater Gallery in NYC. His "Center of the Universe" is a conceptual representation of the x-y-z axes of a Cartesian coordinate system. When the viewer stands in the center of the piece, they are located at the conceptual center of the universe.  "The Center of the Universe" is an example of Conceptual Art, art in which concepts or ideas in the work are central, taking precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns.
LOCATION: Yale Mall, east of Mitchell Hall
MEDIUM:Poured concrete and sodium vapor lights
SIZE: 50' x 50' x 50'
DATE: 1988

L. Dean Neuforth, "Landscape"

L. Dean Neuforth received a Masters of Arts degree from the UNM Art Department in 1954. The two paintings in the Fine Arts & Design Library were among ten works presented in his Exhibit of Paintings for the Masters degree.  After attending UNM, Neuforth was a professor of art at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and Kentucky Wesleyan in Owensboro. These two paintings present a Cubist-iinspired vision of the Northern New Mexico landscape.
LOCATION: Fine Arts & Design Library, west wall (2 paintings, only one shown here)
MEDIUM: Oil on masonite
SIZE: 36.5" x 48.5"
DATE: 1954

Dennis Oppenheim, "Dreams and Nightmares: Journey of a Broken Weave"

Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011), an internationally known conceptual artist, performance artist, earth artist, sculptor and photographer, was an artist-in-residence in the UNM Department of Art and Art History in the 1980s when he created this piece.  "Dreams and Nightmares . . ." is an example of Non-Objective or Non-Representational Art, art which makes no reference to the visual world.  Rather, through an interesting combination of geometric masses and the evocative title, Oppenheim leaves the interpretation of the work to the imagination of the viewer.
LOCATION: Las Lomas entrance to UNM, southwest corner of Lomas Boulevard
MEDIUM: Corten steel, metal mesh, and aluminum
SIZE: 21' x 60' x 31.5'
DATE: 1987

Louis Pearson, "69-9"

Louis Pearson (1926-2005), was a successful sculptor working for many years in the San Francisco Bay area.  He was particularly skilled in working with stainless steel and was a master of forming, grinding and polishing the material into highly reflective and graceful works such as the one shown here.  Now a stationary work, "69-9" originally rotated on its motorized base. This beautiful piece is another example of Non-Objective or Non-Representational Art, art which makes no reference to the visual world.
LOCATION: Parish Memorial Library, lobby
MEDIUM: Stainless steel
SIZE: 48" x 11" x 11", base is 31" x 18" x 18"
DATE: 1969

George Rickey, "Two Lines in Oblique, Variation 3"

George Rickey, (1907-2002), was a great American master of Kinetic Art, art which incorporates motion as part of its expression. The two arms of this piece gracefully turn in response to even the slightest breeze, creating an ever-changing composition.  Rickey first became interested in engineering and mechanics while serving in the U.S.Army Air Corp in World War II.  After the war, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute on the G.I. Bill and developed a geometric style seen here.
LOCATION: Duck Pond, south east side
MEDIUM: Stainless steel
SIZE:10' pole, arms 8', moving blades 15'
DATE: 1970-73

Holly Roberts, work at the Technology & Education Center





Holly Roberts holds a BA from UNM and an MFA from the University of Arizona.  She is represented by several galleries throughout the United States.  She uses paint and photography to create almost dreamlike images. When asked about the meaning of her work, Roberts says “All I can say is that the work mirrors something I need, for whatever reason, to tell about. Almost always there seems to be something in the image about death or pain or fright or something gone wrong. There is always an edge or a bite, something that attracts me more than just beauty. It’s like the best humor: there always has to be something at least a little bit black or frightening to make it really work” (
LOCATION:Technology & Education Center, 1st floor, north hall
MEDIUM: Mixed Media (paint and photography)
SIZE: "Mermaid" 18" x 36", "Stolen Egg" 24" x 24", "Spotted Dog" 18" x 24", "Mother Bird" 13" x 13" 
Photographs provided by the UNM Public Art Inventory.

Mary Robertson, "Girders Before Dwellings"

Mary Robertson holds a BFA in Painting from the UNM Department of Art and Art History, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004.  She is currently represented by the Unsettled Gallery in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is the creator of several mandela coloring books. The colorful "Girders Before Dwellings" is a fanciful abstraction of an urban landscape. It was generously donated to the University Libraries by Kathleen Keating and George Farr in 2013.
LOCATION: Centennial Science and Engineering Library, LL1
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
SIZE: 72" x 45"
DATE: 2005

Julius Rolshoven, "Land of Sip-O-Phe"














Julius Rolshoven (1858-1930), having studied under both Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury in Paris, brought the Academic tradition to New Mexico when he moved to Santa Fe in 1916 and became one of the early members of the Taos Society of Artists.  He painted "The Land of Sip-O-Phe" shortly after his arrival to the state.  The monumental work presents a highly romanticized and ethnocentric view of Native Americans as a noble yet vanishing people.  In 1920 El Palacio magazine (volume 8, issue 1, p.54), quotes the Chicago Tribune, "Beyond the spectacle of Indian horsemen traveling in procession through the desert region, the illumination of the downcast faces on their last journey to "The Land of Sip'ophe" (The Hereafter), the painter has invested the scene with a spirituality and a sense of supreme dignity . . . Its epic quality is on the lofty plane of a poem to vanishing races and historically it is a national monument to which America should honor."  This painting traveled throughout the country, being exhibited at The Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Detroit Museum of Art before eventually being given to the library in 1955 by the artist's widow, Mrs. Harriette Blozo Rolshoven.
LOCATION: Zimmerman Library, West Wing,  "T"-area, eastern reading room
MEDIUM: Oil on Canvas
SIZE: 12' x 17'
DATE: c.1918

Betty Sabo, "Modern Art"

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1928, Betty Sabo studied art at UNM in the 1940s and has been active at the University throughout much of her life. She has a long and distinguished career in painting and sculpture and her works are included in many collections in the region.  The naturalistic depictions of the human form seen here are typical of her bronze work. At the August 2004 unveiling of "Modern Art," she said, “I think everyone can relate to some part of it – the piece has a storyline to a certain extent that is easily recognizable. It’s fun. I really want people to enjoy it.”  The stainless steel tower is the work of her brother, Gary Beals, who is also an accomplished artist.

LOCATION: Cornell Mall, south of the Student Union Building
MEDIUM: Bronze and stainless steel
DATE: 2004

John Tatschl, "History of Writing"













John Tatschl, an Austrian artist skilled in many media, began a long career as Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico in 1946. Throughout his many years on the faculty, Tatschl taught art and created a number of artworks on campus. His monumental sculpted mural, The History of Writing, was designed in 1966 to adorn the main stairwell in the newly expanded Zimmerman Library.  The history of writing is depicted in the mural by means of symbols painted on 53 of the projecting geometric masses. Beginning in the basement with simple scratches and line drawings, the symbols gradually evolve in time and elevation to proto-writing, hieroglyphics, various ancient alphabets, culminating at the top of the composition on the third floor with our Latin alphabet. The stone-like projecting masses and somewhat muted colors of the mural give the composition the "feel" of a grotto through which we ascend through time.

LOCATION: Zimmerman Library, central stairwell
MEDIUM: Sculpted mural, paint & epoxy resin
SIZE: Four stories in height
DATE: 1966

John Tatschl, "Lobo"

John Tatschl, an Austrian artist skilled in many media, began a long career as Professor of Art at the University of New Mexico in 1946. Throughout his many years on the faculty, Tatschl taught art and created a number of artworks on campus.  His proud bronze Lobo is a memorial dedicated to the 158 UNM students and alumni who died in the First and Second World Wars.  The abstraction of the animal's physiology reflects the mechanized streamlined artistic styles utilized by some post-war Modernist artists.

When the sculpture was moved to its current location in 1960, Tatschl stated, "You know, quite often after looking at something for ten years,you want to disown authorship. But on the contrary, I look back on my work ten years later and I'm still proud I made him" [Van Dorn Hooker, Only in New Mexico: An Architectural History of the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000), 90.]

LOCATION: South side of Johnson Center at Stanford Dr. entrance to campus (Originally located at the entrance of Zimmerman Stadium.)
MEDIUM: Bronze
SIZE: 48" x 72" x 24"
DATE: 1947

Rebecca & Gene Tobey, "The Gift"

Gene and Rebecca Tobey collaborated for 21 years to create beautifully stylized animal sculptures.  After Gene's death to cancer in 2006, Rebecca Tobey presented "The Gift" to the UNM Cancer Center.  The plaque reads, "Donated by Rebecca Tobey, in memory of Gene Tobey, to honor the doctors and nurses of UNM Cancer Center and Hospital.”  At the 2009 installation Rebecca said of the work, "The bear stands above a basin representing parched earth and water pours from his open palms giving the gift of life — the water — to the Earth.”

Called "little ghosts" by the Tobeys, the many designs incised into the surface of the piece are a characteristic of the their style.  At the installation, Rebecca recalled how she and Gene liked to camp in the southwest: “As darkness descends . . . a little breeze comes up. We thought you could hear wispy things flying through the air. We called the breezes ‘the little ghosts.’ Therefore we created these little ghosts, which are our own designs.”
LOCATION: UNM Cancer Center, west entrance
MEDIUM: Bronze
SIZE: 70" x 36" x 91"
DATE: 2005 (installed 2009)

Edward Vega, "Modulator"

Edward Vega is a native New Mexican.  Born and raised in Deming, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from New Mexico State University and a Master of Arts degree from UNM. He taught art at New Mexico State University and the University of Albuquerque for several years. The monumental, non-objective forms of "Modulator" are typical of his large scale work. Vega said of this piece, "I was fascinated by the idea of movement-- implied movement.  I also remember my dad working on car motors, seeing the camshaft and its irregular shape that implied the movement of the parts." (Fairfield, Douglas. 2009 "Edward Vega: Weathered Abstractions." The Santa Fe New Mexican, Sep. 25.)  In 2009 Vega was the recipient of the Govenor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in sculpture.
LOCATION: Jonson Gallery, south lawn
MEDIUM: Corten steel   
SIZE: 68" x 36" x 32"
DATE: 1985

Frederico Vigil, "Cosmos Historia, the Harmonious Process"

Frederico Vigil was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His subject matter includes aspects of the Hispanic culture of New Mexico, faith, family, and the agricultural tradition.  In this work, "Cosmos Historia, the Harmonious Process", Vigil depicts the ideal harmony between the variety of peoples and traditions in New Mexico.  The inscription in the lower right reads, "fresco realizado en commeracion del primer centenario (1889-1989) de  las fundacion de la universidad de nuevo mexico, por frederico m. vigil en el ano mcmlxxxvii."  The technique is buon fresco, in which the artist creates an image by applying water-based paint on wet plaster. When the water evaporates the painting is incorporated into the wall.

LOCATION: History Department Lounge, Mesa Vista Hall, room 1104
MEDIUM: True fresco
SIZE: 8' x 10'
DATE: 1987

Denise Yaghmourian, "Wood Grids- 3 Pieces"

Denise Yaghmourian lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in painting at Arizona State University in 1991.  Her current sculptural work is characterized by the use of by repetitive patterns. The mathematical repetition of cubical masses in this work produces an almost meditative effect, ideally suited for its location in the science and engineering library.
LOCATION: Centennial Library, LL1, eastern light well
MEDIUM: Baltic birch wood
SIZE: 54" x 113" x 5"
DATE: 2011

Joan Weissman, Terrazzo floors

Joan Weissman was commissioned in 1996 by the New Mexico Art in Public Places to create three hand-made carpets for the $10.6 million renovation of the UNM Center for the Arts. After eight years, the University decided to replace the carpets with terrazzo floors, commissioning Weissman on the recreation of the original. The terrazzo floors were installed in 2004.

The designs highlight UNM’s cultural collaboration with Latin American universities. Each of the patterns make abstract reference to Pre-Columbian shapes, contemporary Southwestern imagery, and colors from New Mexican landscapes. Other elements allow for wider interpretations. At the Popejoy Hall entry, spirals bisected with fine lines look to many viewers like musical notations. Dance students have created choreography based on the geometric designs in front of Keller Hall. And the most understated of the insets at the entry to the UNM Art Museum is reminiscent of printed patterns from the Vienna Secessionist movement.

Terrazzo is a green material—long lasting, nontoxic, sturdy, smooth for accessibility, and easy to clean. Since 2004 they have survived constant traffic, furniture moving, skateboards, bicycles, spills, graduations, and even the display of automobiles for raffles.

The floors won the 2005 Honor Award from the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association. Weissman has gone on to design terrazzo floors for other Public Art locations, including the Civic Center in Asheville, NC and a library in Clearwater, FL.

- text and images by Joan Weissman

 LOCATION: Center for Fine Arts, lobby
DATE: 2004

Star Liana York, "Distant Thunder"

Star Liana York lives near Abiquiu, New Mexico, on a 40-acre ranch where she raises Quarter Horses and creates fine art.  Her work depicts Native American culture, cowboy themes, and Western wildlife.  The exquisitely crafted details of "Distant Thunder" are typical of her highly naturalistic work.  At the installation, Star explained that the piece depicted, “a medicine woman who ran with Geronimo. I wanted to do a sculpture of a woman facing a challenging situation.”  This work was donated to the UNM Cancer Center by Paul & Lucy Roth, formerly of Santa Fe.
LOCATION: UNM Cancer Center, east entrance
MEDIUM: Bronze
SIZE: 74"h x 55"w x 45"d
DATE: 1997 (installed 2011)