March 8 2013 by Sam Lowe
Always on the lookout for what I call "road art," I was delighted to come across an exceptional display of major works in New Mexico. It's road art on water tanks, and there are examples all over the state. Not only are they exciting, they're also easy to look at, especially from a senior standpoint, because you don't have to get out of your car to examine them due to their enormous size.
A prime example is in Los Lunas, where a huge city water tank is adorned with two painted-on snarling tigers. There's one on the east side and another on the west, and all the space in between is filled with black and orange stripes, which is the way a tigered tank should look. The big felines honor the athletes at Los Lunas High School because the tiger is the school mascot. The tank is highly visible from I-25 on the north edge of the city.
In Artesia, the city water tank has been decorated to honor the Artesia High School Bulldogs and their dominance in football. A giant mural that encircles the tank depicts a mammoth bulldog surrounded by football helmets. Each helmet stands for a championship and the Bulldogs win so often that the decor has to be redone almost every other year.
Truth or Consequences not only bears an unusual name, it also takes civic art to a higher level. A local artist was commissioned to convert the city's two water tanks into objets d'art, and he performed the assigned task admirably, considering that his canvas was circular, made of steel, and stands more than 30 feet high. The tanks are covered with western scenes that reflect the area's heritage.
Down Las Cruces way, once-unpicturesque tanks have been spruced up with images of flowers, cattle, early settlers, horses and cowboys. There's a wide variety of them, all highly visible because water tanks, by their very nature, are usually placed on higher elevations and these are no exception to that rule of gravity.
And ten miles north of Las Cruces on Highway 70 East, the western scenes are replaced with an out-of-this-world motif at the Space Mural Museum. The blue mural, wrapped around a 1.2 million-gallon water tank, depicts spacemen, space ships, space rockets and space satellites.
And finally, the water tank at Magdalena isn't nearly as large as most of the others, but it still manages to display local athletic pride. The tank features a well-designed longhorn painted inside a circle surrounded by the words "Magdelena: Home of the Steers."