Monday, January 20, 2014

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Partners with the Carlsbad Mural Project on Traveling Mural

From our friends at Guadalupe Mountains National Park:

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Superintendent Dennis A. Vásquez announced that the park has completed a partnership with the Carlsbad Mural Project, a project of the Carlsbad Community Anti-Gang-Drug Coalition (, with the creation of a traveling mural of the park. Guadalupe Mountains National Park entered into the partnership with the Carlsbad Mural Project to create the mural in 2012, as part of the 40th Anniversary of the park‟s establishment in 1972.

Vásquez stated, “Art - visual arts, language arts and music - in a variety of mediums - has long been used to help people visualize and understand national parks, from the early paintings of George Caitlin to the exquisite photographs of Ansel Adams. This mural is a wonderful way to introduce people to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and, along with our Artist-In-Residence program, illustrate the beauty, and the flora, fauna, geologic, historic resources, and recreational opportunities, such as hiking and backpacking, which the park possesses. We have enjoyed working with Brother Boko and the volunteers who created this beautiful mural, and are pleased at how well they have captured the essence of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.”

In July 2012, the park contacted Joe Epstein and Eve Flanigan at the Carlsbad Mural Project about the possibility of creating a mural of the park, after reading about a mural project they had undertaken with “at-risk” youth. Epstein put the park in contact with noted muralist Charles Freeman, AKA “Brother Boko,” and over the next several months, Boko spoke and met with park staff many times to discuss creation of a mural, which would similarly involve “at-risk” youth as a way of introducing them to and involving them in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and to develop a concept for the mural.

In August 2012, Boko submitted conceptual sketches, which were accepted by the park. The park provided the plywood, hardware, paint, information and photographs about the park, and park staff consulted with Boko on concepts and reviewed drawings and various stages of the mural‟s development. New Mexico State University, Carlsbad provided studio space and over the next several months Boko, as a NPS Volunteer-In-Parks, assisted by other volunteers, including NMSU-Carlsbad‟s Retention Coordinator Ayako Sami and Director of Library Services Akila Nosakhere, further developed the concepts for the mural, researched the park, including its flora, fauna and history, photographed various aspect of the park and painted the mural. Two other volunteers who helped paint the mural were young men, who must remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, from the Grace House (, a residential treatment program for adolescents, aged 13-18, in Carlsbad, NM.

Brother Boko added, “I think the inclusion of so-called „at risk‟ youth is a great idea. The creative process of mural making offers them a positive and productive outlet for their creative energy. The Carlsbad Mural Project is committed to working with Carlsbad‟s youth through local organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, which has proven to be a great collaboration. Our most recent endeavor with young people from the Grace House has proven to be quite beneficial, as well. The two youth who participated in the production of the Guadalupe Mountains travelling mural were enthusiastic and open to being taught mural painting techniques. My hope is that they will continue to pursue this path and achieve great things in their lives. Thanks J and D, and also to Ayako, for your energy!”

The then unfinished, 8‟ high x 16‟ wide mural, consisting of four painted, plywood panels, was displayed publicly for the first time at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, during the park‟s 40th Anniversary Celebration on October 6, 2012. After that event, work continued on the mural in between several other mural projects for which Boko was commissioned. When not being used for outreach, the mural may be seen inside the Pine Springs Visitor Center Auditorium, which is open daily (except for December 25) from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Vásquez continued, “We are grateful to Brother Boko, as well as for the support of Eve Flanigan and Joe Epstein of the Carlsbad Mural Project, Dr. John Gratton, President of New Mexico State University, Carlsbad, as well as Sharon Young, Linde Merry and Bobby Keys, Ayako Sami and Akila Nosakhere of New Mexico State University, Carlsbad, Melissa Roberts at the Grace House, as well as the two young artists from Grace House who assisted with the mural. Jesus “Chuy” Melero, a Carlsbad High School Teacher assisted with this project during his time as a Teacher- Ranger-Teacher at the park, as well as after he returned to the classroom, and the park‟s maintenance staff, designed and built the frame for the mural. We thank everyone who was involved in this project in bringing it to fruition.”

Park information, including park conditions, closures or restrictions, weather and program information, may be found on the park‟s website at, on the park‟s Facebook page at, or by contacting the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124. Free interpretive programs and guided hikes may be found on the Meetup page at, on the park website or by calling the Pine Springs Visitor Center. The Pine Springs Visitor Center is open daily (except for Christmas) from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM (8:00 AM until 6:00 PM from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend). Be sure to stop by to get a map, site bulletins, brochures, post cards, books or film about Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The McKittrick Canyon, Frijole Ranch House, Dog Canyon and Salt Basin Dunes (Dell City,TX) Visitor Contact Stations are open intermittently. Please call the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124 to find out whether they are open. For Dog Canyon, call the Dog Canyon Visitor Contact Station/Ranger Station at (575) 981-2418.

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