Above: Kenneth Malone's portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe adorns Spirit Winds, a cafe and gift shop. Photograph courtesy of Kenneth Malone.
WHEN SEBASTIAN "VELA" VELAZQUEZ moved to Las Cruces nearly a decade ago, he found the city a blank canvas for public art. But the Santa Fe native was soon front and center in an emerging muralist scene.
Nonprofits, businesses, local residents, and city government began funding projects, dozens of which cropped up on exterior walls and inside restaurants, skate shops, and tattoo parlors. Local artists who typically worked in other media caught the bug.
In Las Cruces today, you can spy a mysterious dark-haired woman who gazes fiercely from the brick wall of a downtown office building. Created by a collection of artists, she is surrounded by hummingbirds and flowers in a dazzling rainbow of color.
Velazquez says his favorite projects include the sugar-skull folklórico dancer he painted in nearby Mesilla and an action-packed Western scene on the back of a downtown bail-bonds business. “It’s like a dance of art,” he says of the muralists and their works. “It just flows and keeps the community inspired and intact.”
TAKE A TOUR
Map out your mural adventure, neighborhood by neighborhood, via Murals of Las Cruces. Some are on private property, so keep to public spaces, like sidewalks, to view them and snap your selfies.