“Pueblo Matriarch” is a metal sculpture designed by Upton S. Ethelbah Jr., known as Greyshoes. The piece will be located near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in the North Valley. (Courtesy Indian Pueblo Cultural Center)
Copyright © 2021
Upton S. Ethelbah Jr. dedicated his life to the arts.
On his journey into sculpture he created masterpieces.
Its newest, “Pueblo Matriarch” – has been selected as a public work of art, which will be located on Menaul Boulevard and 12th Street NW near the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
The piece is a contemporary stylized steel sculpture that follows shapes inspired by the aesthetic motifs and movements found in the ceremonial regalia and dances of its Native American heritage – Santa Clara Pueblo and White Mountain Apache.
“’Pueblo Matriarch’ will be the mother of our cultural center and will complement the new expansion on the old Indian School campus,” says Ethelbah, who works under the name Greyshoes and has close ties to the area. “I had relatives working at Indian School and my mother was a nurse at the Indian Health Service hospital that used to be there. I worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs across the street. We lived on Los Tomases Drive, a few hundred yards from the roundabout. I live less than a mile to the west now. I have a lot of roots, history and life experiences that happened right there. It was a natural fit. “
“Pueblo Matriarch” will be a 6 meter high, fabricated hollow steel sculpture, which consists entirely of welded steel girders and panels that develop a natural red rust patina over time. The sculpture is illuminated from the outside and inside, with design elements cut out of the panels being highlighted. These symbols include corn, clouds, rain, lightning, and the iconic Avanyu or water snake.
The Albuquerque Community Foundation and the IPCC worked together to get the public art project. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the foundation recognizes its first arts and culture scholarships in the 1980s by partnering with the Cultural Center to commission or donate permanent artwork from a New Mexico Native American artist and / or team of artists to buy.
Amy G. Johnson, IPCC collections curator, says one of the reasons the Art Selection Committee chose Greyshoes to design was because the artwork it proposed complimented the architecture of the IPCC and the buildings.
“It was interesting to see the artists’ ideas and different approaches, their understanding of the IPCC and the idea that the roundabout is the entrance to the Near North Valley and the history of the neighborhood. “Says Johnson. “Artists had to consider issues of sight lines, traffic patterns, the durability of the piece, the materials to be used, and so on. The committee’s choice for Greyshoes and ‘Pueblo Matriarch’ was wonderful. “