The "Remembering Roswell" project (2010 – 2016) was a community-based public art renovation of Reischman Park located on Main Street - downtown Roswell, New Mexico. The theme for the renovation of the 550 square foot pocket park was to beautify and artfully celebrate Roswell's rich history, people, and culture. As lead artist/designer for the non-profit Roswell Interarts Organization I coordinated efforts with The City of Roswell and MainStreet Roswell. I worked with local businesses, civic groups and community members on fundraising for the project, coordinated free tile making workshops and fabricated thousands of custom tile for the installation.
The 35 year old Reischman Park was in dire need of repair. Upgrades were necessary to meet ADA codes and to make the prominent downtown site more inviting and functional to tourist and local citizens. The effort to beautify the park was initiated by the Director of MainStreet Roswell who asked me to redesign the site as lead artist for the Roswell Interarts Organization in coordination with the City of Roswell. The goal was to tell the story of Roswell’s rich historic and cultural past through imagery and community involvement.
Park amenities were informed by historic images I gathered from the Historic Society’s archives and local citizens’ memorabilia. The hand-forged rail design was inspired by a 1900 Owl Band member’s uniform and the custom arches and columns from an antique Main Street parade photo. Historic postcard images were used to create the custom tiles for the seat of the tree planters by members of the local Potter’s Guild and volunteers from the High Plains Poets wrote the text accompanying the cards. More than 1,200 “signature” tiles were created by community members for the L-Bench and the rectangular planter is covered with 1” hand painted tiles made by community members.
The “Remembering Roswell” project was a successful collaborative effort with the City of Roswell, MainStreet Roswell, MainStreet New Mexico, the Historic Society of Southeastern New Mexico, local businesses, civic groups, and Roswell community members and tourists.
Monies to complete the first phase of the project came from a substantial grant awarded to the City by MainStreet New Mexico. The initial grant enabled the 35 year old site to be gutted and new infrastructure installed. The money to install the art features during the second phase of the project was garnered through grants from Xcel Energy, local civic groups and fundraising efforts within the community. The project would not have been completed without the generous support from the City, individuals, businesses and community groups.
To effectively complete the design and fabrication of the project I coordinated efforts with the City’s Engineering Department, Designer Terry Rhodes, steel fabricator Ferrall Clem, and various talented ceramic artists who assisted in making custom tile for the project. Multi-generational community members and tourists also participated in painting tiles and making “signature” tiles for the installation and various residents shared their eclectic Roswell memorabilia that was used in the painted design of tile for the tree planters.
The “Remembering Roswell” community public art project has transformed Reischman Park into a vital downtown destination. The beautiful new amenities including the custom steel railing, handmade tile and engaging historic postcard mural and sculptural steel sheet music draw tourists and local residents to the site. The addition of new lighting and a performance stage have made the park a hub for live music and entertainment during MainStreet Roswell’s First Friday events and other seasonal community festivals. Community involvement and support on all levels was absolutely essential to the success and completion of the six year project.
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