Guadalupe Mountains National 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.
“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," said park Superintendent Dennis Vásquez. "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, park officials, after reading about a mural project they had undertaken with “at-risk” youth, contacted Joe Epstein and Eve Flanigan at the Carlsbad Mural Project about the possibility of creating a mural of the park. Mr. 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.
“I think the inclusion of so-called 'at risk' youth is a great idea," said Brother Boko. "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."
The then-unfinished, 8-foot high x 16-foot 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 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.