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Sometime, in the 1980’s the Rev. Juan Romero mused to Moises Sandoval, the editor of his book RELUCTANT DAWN, and professional editor of Maryknoll Magazine-Revista Maryknoll that Padre Martínez deserved a memorial. In the early 90´s Sandoval sent Romero an issue of Maryknoll with the works of San Luis, Colorado sculptor Huberto Maestas featured on the cover. Romero then put this idea in the form of a written proposal and sent it to Taos historian Corina Santistevan and museum curator , a descendant of Padre Martínez and heir to the historic home in Taos, with suggestions on how funds might be raised for such an endeavor. Given the estimated cost of the memorial at $100,000, it was deemed unfeasible at the time and was tabled. In 2001, at a meeting in the Padre Martínez Home attended by Vicente Martínez, his son Antonio, and Corina Santistevan, the idea was revisited. Vicente suggested that Romero contact Senator Carlos Cisneros to see if the memorial could be funded by the state legislature.

Pursuing the idea of seeking public and private funding, Romero, contacted the Santa Fe Arts Council, and they referred him to Cynthia Sánchez, executive director of the Capital Arts Foundation (CAF). With input from Ms. Sánchez, Romero began to form a Memorial Committee while at a retreat at Christ in the Desert Monastery, near Abiquiú. About twelve people attended, including Taos County State Senator Carlos R. Cisneros (District 6); Pablo Sedillo and Peter Ives were selected co-chairs of the fledging Memorial Committee. Sedillo, an Española native now retired and living in Santa Fe spent many years as the U. S. Bishops’ Secretariat for the Spanish-Speaking out of Washington, D. C. Mr. Ives is an attorney, with the Public Land Trust in Santa Fe. Ms. Sánchez invited the newly formed Memorial Committee to make a presentation at the September 2001 Capitol Arts Foundation meeting in Albuquerque. The Memorial Committee agreed to come under the umbrella of a recently formed organization – La Fundación Presbítero Don Antonio José Martínez, Inc., founded by Antonio J. Martínez, with Vicente and Romero serving as board members.

In Sept 2001 the Memorial Committee, under the auspices of the La Fundación, presented their proposal to the Capitol Arts Foundation (CAF) board to seek their assistance in exploring the possibility of placing a statue in front of the New Mexico State Capitol building. New Mexico State Historian, Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Peter Ives, and Valerie Chavez of Questa, a descendent of Padre Martínez, made the presentation. At the same time, La Fundación was exploring various avenues to raise funds, and wanted to know if the CAF would be receptive. Possible funding sources included soliciting state or private resources, and the sale of maquettes.

On January 19, 2002, at the regular session of the 45th New Mexico State Legislature, Senator Cisneros introduced Senate Memorial 6. The memorial specifically stated the following: “ recognizing the significance of honoring and commemorating the life and times of Padre Antonio José Martínez and his numerous contributions to New Mexico history,” including his political contributions from 1830 to 1862 under Mexican and American Territorial Governments. In support of the legislation and at the suggestion of Romero, Kathy Cordova circulated a petition after each Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos in support of Senate Memorial 6 and presented it to Senator Cisneros. The bill passed unanimously, 43-0. Two weeks later, in the second session of the 2002 Legislature Sen. Cisneros introduced Senate Capitol Outlay Request (SCOR) 555 requesting $100,000 in appropriations for the memorial. The Legislative Finance Committee finally approved it at $75,000.

New Mexico Arts/Arts in Public Places (AIPP) was given the responsibility to oversee fiscal and administrative phases of the project per state guidelines. The first meeting was held on June 18, 2002 and the first order of business was to select a committee to develop a prospectus for a request for proposals. Members of the Prospectus Committee were Dr. Rael-Gálvez, New Mexico State Historian; Vicente Martínez; Mr. Peter Ives an attorney, who also had a background in arts administration; and AIPP Program Manager Kathryn Minette and staff member Anna Blyth. Mr. Ives was selected Chairman of the committee.

The original timeline of the Prospectus developed by the committee called for completion of the Prospectus and advertisement of the Request for Proposals by July 1, allowing more than two months for submissions, with selection to be made by late September. The Project was slated to begin in November 2002 for completion by November 2003. It was agreed that the size of the statue would be 7-10 feet and that the amount available would be $73,200. The site preferred by the committee was the State Capitol in Santa Fe; however with regard to the capitol grounds site, Senator Cisneros had advised Romero that it would require a vote of two-thirds of the legislative body to approve the location of the statue on the state capitol grounds.

Alternative sites considered by the Prospectus Committee included the Bataan Building (the Old State Capitol) and the State Land Office, also in Santa Fe. Mr. Martínez suggested that Taos also be considered, but was advised by Ms. Minette that the site would have to be located on state land. This narrowed the Taos possibilities to the State Highway Department lot or the National Guard Amory, both off of U S 64 and approximately 4 miles north of Taos Plaza. Because of their location, both sites would have been unsuitable. Dr. Rael-Gálvez asked that Santa Fe be given first consideration because Padre Martínez served all of New Mexico, and this met with the agreement of the committee. The committee also agreed to extend eligibility for submission, beyond the State of New Mexico, to include artists from southern Colorado (from Pueblo south). Minette advised the committee that the sponsoring organization would also be responsible for creating a base prior to installation, and for perpetual maintenance of the statue.

The second task undertaken by the AIPP committee was to develop a local selection committee composed of five members who would review the submitted works by the artists. It was agreed that the selection committee would be established as the Memorial Committee de la Fundación Presbítero Don Antonio José Martínez (La Fundación), a New Mexico not-for-profit organization. Although La Fundación agreed to be the sponsoring organization, NM Arts was advised that the organization did not have tax-exempt status and would therefore not be able to raise additional funds required of the sponsoring organization. This was acknowledged and the first committee members selected were Kathy Cordova, a Taos educator, writer and journalist; Peter Ives, attorney for the Land Trust; Pablo Sedilo, a member of U S Sen. Bingaman’s staff, and Rev. Romero. Cordova was named Project Director.

The Memorial Committee was advised by AIPP Program Manager Minette that legislative approval for placement of the memorial at the State Capitol may be a formidable obstacle because of the 2/3rd majority vote requirement, and the Memorial Committee felt that the alternate Capitol building sites, were not favorable because of the lack of visibility and prominence that would be afforded to the memorial by Santa Fe visitors. Minette, agreed to contact the appropriate legislative committee to seek approval and in the interim, discussions for a suitable location ensued. Santa Fe alternatives to the Capitol grounds considered by the Memorial Committee included the Santa Fe Plaza and Cathedral Plaza on the grounds of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, and Minette agreed to contact both entities. Shortly thereafter, the committee was advised that the allocated funds had been invested in bonds and that the commission of the statue could not take place until the bonds matured. With this news, and the lack of a site, the process came to a standstill, and Prospectus # 166 was not issued.

In September 2003 Project Director Cordova had advised Martínez that AIPP was looking favorable on the Taos Plaza location for the memorial, and based on her preliminary talks with town officials, they were receptive to the idea. On October 19, a day prior to a Town Council meeting, Martinez wrote to Minette and requested written clarification of AIPP´s position on the Taos location. On October 20, 2003 AIPP Program Manager Minette replied and Martínez was advised that the legislative committee did not approve locating the statue on Capitol grounds. She also advised him that ordinances were in place forbidding placement of additional artwork in Cathedral Park other than those designed for the Park, and that due to ongoing volatile discussions about the redesign of the Plaza, there was no encouragement to pursue this location. However, Taos remained a possibility, and Minette advised Martinez that Taos Plaza would be suitable as long as the Town of Taos was in agreement and would be willing to enter into a contract with the state.

In the meantime Kathy Cordova and Martinez had met with Town of Taos Planning Director Miguel Salinas and Park Superintendent Dennis Martinez, to request support and discuss the possible location for the memorial. All were favorable of it being placed on the Plaza. At the Town Council meeting of October 21, 2003 Kathy Cordova, with Martínez at her side, presented their request that town sponsorship of the statue be placed on the agenda for consideration at the November meeting. Taos Historic Museums Director Karen Young, and Pablo Sedillo, co-chair of the Memorial Committee sent letters of support to Taos Mayor Bobby Duran and the town council. On November 25, 2003, after a presentation by Kathy Cordova, the town council unanimously approved the placement of the memorial on Taos Plaza, opposite the La Fonda Hotel. The Taos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also agreed to become a sponsor to fund the base for the memorial statue and to help maintain it. The November 3, 2003 editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the parent company of the Taos News, heralded the decision by stating, “ Honoring Martinez, the right thing to do.”

On January 5, 2004 Prospectus # 166 was finally announced on behalf of the Memorial Committee and AIPP seeking a request “to commission a three-dimensional, freestanding, monumental, exterior, 7’-10’ bronze sculpture of Padre Antonio José Martínez (1793-1867).” The deadline for submissions was set for February 16, 2005 at which time three finalists would be selected. Under the Prospectus, each finalist selected would be required to create a maquette for which they would receive $500 in compensation, and under the sponsorship agreement, the maquettes would become the property of the Town of Taos. The sculpture was to be completed by July 2005.

On March 3, 2004 the Local Selection Committee met at the Old Taos County Courthouse on Taos Plaza to consider the submissions. The committee consisted of the following: Dr. Rael-Gálvez, Peter Ives, Valerie Chavez, Bob Romero – president of the Taos Historical Society, Audry Martínez-Quintana – a Taos artist and sculptor, and Project Director Dr. Kathy Cordova. Martínez-Quintana did not submit for the project so she could serve as a panelist. NM Arts requires that each local selection committee have an artist that is familiar with the type of artwork being considered. The committee considered sixteen entries. The committee looked at past work to get an idea of the type of work the artists did and to judge if they would be capable of completing a bronze piece of this size. After lengthy review and careful consideration, the finalists chosen were Alison Aragon of Albuquerque, Mark and Cynthia Rowland of Albuquerque, and Huberto Maestas of San Luis, Colorado.

On May 19, 2004, at a public meeting in the old Taos County Courthouse on Taos Plaza, the Local Selection Committee met again to consider the their final selection from artists/finalists Aragon, Maestas, and the Rowlands. Each artist/finalist presented their maquettes and made a presentation about thought process and elements in each respective maquette, and the historical accuracy of the design. After comment from the public in attendance, the committee met and selected Maestas as the finalist.

Huberto Maestas, a San Luis native, is an internationally recognized artist-sculptor. His work is diversified and includes the human form, wildlife, and inanimate objects. He received his formal education at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado. Maestas' work adorns churches in Phoenix, Denver, Dodge City, and Los Angeles, Texas, Kentucky, and is represented in private collections and exhibited internationally. In recent years Maestas had completed a commission of fifteen outdoor sculptural bronzes, a monumental project, for the Stations of the Cross Shrine in San Luis, Colorado. It is noted that in 1850 Padre Martínez was the first pastor of the Sangre de Cristo Church in San Luis, Colorado.

NM Arts drew up the contact between the State, Town, Taos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. Maestas and by August 25, 2004 all of the parties had signed. With new sponsorship by the Town of Taos and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, La Fundación was replaced as the sponsoring entity. After a couple of minor setbacks with the acquisition of funds and an illness sustained by the artist, construction of the memorial statue began in 2005. Throughout the entire process, NM Arts and Romero monitored the progress and now the statue has become reality. Margaret Vigil, Administrative Assistant to Senator Carlos Cisneros, Chairs the Planning Committee for the Dedication Ceremonies scheduled for July 14-16, 2006.

La Fundación would like to express its extreme gratitude to Senator Carlos Cisneros, the members of the Memorial and Local Selection Committees, the staff of New Mexico Arts/Art in Public Places, Project Director Dr. Kathy Cordova, Taos Mayor Bobby Duran and the Town Council, Taos Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Margaret Vigil, and everyone else who supported or participated in this process to make this memorial homage to Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos (1793-1867) a reality. La Honra de su Paíz - The Honor of his Homeland.

©Fundación Presbíitero Don Antonio José Martínez 7/3/06


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