Garden of the Gods Sculpture Center

sustainably designed for the unique demands of sculpture and the business of art

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breaking Ground

Over one year of designing has been completed for the residence, studio and gallery. The Santa Fe team collaborating to make it all happen include: Autotroph architecture ran the Ecotekt passive solar modeling software (photo) to maximize efficiency of the building. Sunrise Construction and Design will be managing the building with Robert Dunner at the helm. Around 3,500 square feet of space will have geothermal heating and cooling installed by Gene Romero and Dahl plumbing. Tom Lujan will be drilling the boreholes and 100% of our water will be recycled into irrigation designed and installed by the Rain Catcher Inc. Here we go!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Scenic landscape, convoluted geology, archeology, and a slice of history. These all combine to furnish an unrepeatable backdrop for a sculptors' and artists' retreat, work space, and gallery, included in a preliminary master plan prepared by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West of Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Sculpture Center lies nestled behind Ambush Rock, a soaring wall of yellow sandstone in the Galisteo formation that cuts diagonally across New Mexico Highway 14, a National Scenic Biway some three miles north of the historic mining town of Cerrillos, New Mexico.

In Old West days, a break near the northeast end of the Rock provided a natural passageway for a wagon road to Santa Fe. According to legend, here masked bandits were in the habit of waylaying travelers on foot or horseback and robbing stagecoaches and express wagons carrying silver and gold from the mines.

The Garden of the Gods itself stretches almost three miles along the Highway from Ambush Rock south towards Cerrillos. Today's travelers view a scatter of grassy flats surrounded by a jumble of lofty stone pillars, turtlebacks of slickrock, and vast plates of exposed sandstone and limestone turned on edge by ancient upheavals of the earth. And unseen from the highway are clusters of outsize petrified logs, in age dating back more than a million years.

Just over a mile beyond the north boundary of the Sculpture Center, San Marcos Pueblo once stood on high ground overlooking spring fed San Marcos Arroyo. Recent archeology discloses that it was the most populous of all the pueblos when the Spaniards first arrived in 1540.

Each spring the San Marcos people trooped down to the Garden of the Gods with their agricultural tools and bags of seeds. In the valleys and hollows amid the formations, they planted their crops of colored corn, beans, squashes, and pumpkins and tended them, aided by sheet runoff from the surrounding rocks.

For the Indians, this variegated landscape was sacred ground. On stone cliffs and massive boulders, they carved religious petroglyphs. And throughout the area, they erected stone shrines to honor the kachina spirits who brought rain and protected fields.

A faint memory of the Indians' ancient reverence toward this sunlit land led government surveyors in the 1880's to call it the Garden of the Gods. By that name it remains known to this day.

Written by Marc Simmons
Garden Steward, Neighbor, New Mexico's best known and most distinguished historian.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Making trails during the Summer Solstice

We completed establishing the trails this weekend during the summer solstice. A few new pieces were added to the garden including James Vilona's "Murcury's Orbit", Warren Cullars "River Totem" and a collaborative installation by CullarBox titled "Lightening Field #2" just for fun. We also began our interpretive sign planning with Rici Peterson and hope to have our 501c3 Non Profit application in the mail within the month.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Return of the Ancestors Ceremony

A spring miraculously appeared above the pond the day before the Return of the Ancestors Council came to bless the land with a water ceremony. Kisha Little Grandmother of the Sioux and Salish Tribe held the ceremony for the New Mexico and Colorado region at the request of Adam Yellowbird and Grandfather Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj, leader of the Mayan Council of Elders. “At the time of the 12 Bhaktun and 13 Ahau is the time of the Return of our Ancestors and the return of the men and women of wisdom.” Apparently Little Grandmother had a vision and our land turned out to be that vision. A powerful earth acupuncture ceremony was held and quartz crystals were tossed into the waters of our pond and spring. We finished the ceremony by planting corn, bean and squash into the natural garden area of the property and watered each seed with water from the springs. Warren also found a perfect obsidian arrow head on the land the day before. It doesn't get any more Santa Fe than a weekend like that!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Erosion Stabilization

April 18th weekend turned out to be quite the weekend. Warren and I stayed the weekend on the land arriving Saturday morning to a 3inch blanket of snow that quickly melted into the land. Santa Fe's local ecological, wetlands, and erosion expert Steve Vrooman has provided us with excellent advice and we are putting it into action. We raked vulnurable areas, spread native dryland seed mix ($110 for a 20lb. bag) purchased from Plants of the Southwest (about a handful for every 15 sq. ft.) Raked the soil and seeds again before adding a layer of Gamma Straw (also from Plants of the Southwest $12 per bail). We were going to rent a gas powered 6" chipper shredder ($180) and grind up some of the brush we have on the land but Warren figured out that we could buy a lot of ready mulch for that price. So we did: 35 bags from Lowes for $4.60 a bag. Spread that over the Straw to keep it in place and noticed it was all wet from dew early the next morning. We had a good group of volunteers show up despite the snow. We put railroad ties into the parking area to establish 7 spots. We also began lining the garden sculpture trails with river rock.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CAMP kids visit

On December 6th the University of New Mexico Recreational Services and The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) found the best kept secret on the Turquoise Trail. The Garden of the Gods Sculpture Garden promises to be one of the highlights in this area.

We were planning to attend the Christmas lights of Madrid on that day and I needed to find some other interesting venue to explore before going into town. I found the information about the Garden of the Gods Sculpture Center by just “Googling” sculpture centers in New Mexico! I was able to get in contact with Warren and Kevin easily. Warren was going to be out of town but Kevin graciously offered to meet and talk to our group.

We met Kevin about an hour later from our original meeting time due to my lack of sense of direction! Before we had a tour of the area, Kevin gave an overview to the group about the Garden of the Gods Sculpture Center project. The area is full of unique rock formations and is rich in geology, which makes it a perfect place for a sculpture center. We were able to go on some existing trails as well as some that were currently being developed. The oasis on the property is the area where the pond and the springs are located with the smell of fresh mint patches!

Our students were very impressed with the current artwork on the property as well as the beauty of the area. One of our students who is an architect major was extremely excited about the building rendition that will go up in the near future.

The purpose of taking the CAMP students on various outings is to expose them to cultural activities and areas of New Mexico. This adventure proved to be a very rewarding experience for this group. We all look forward to going back to this little piece of heaven on the Turquoise Trail!

Laura Montoya
University of New Mexico
Recreational Services

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

December 2008 More Sculpture

"Life Boat" was installed into the Garden after its debut in Chicago on Election day. It was featured in the SOFA exhibition at Navy Pier.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Restoring the original Road 9-08

The original "Turquoise Trail" went through our property. In the 1930's the road was diverted away from the spring wetlands and paved a few hundred yards to the East. This road deteriorated over the last few years due to rain and neglect. We have now successfully restored the original road base along with the pond that is now holding water. Warren made sure that all cacti that had grown in the path of the road were transplanted and God made sure to fill the pond within two weeks of fixing the dam.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


After a heavy "Deluge" as Marc Simmons called it, our property received an incredible amount of water. Having just repaired the dam, the pond swelled to absolute capacity! Warrens work on the pedestrian gate by the scenic pullout is also finished.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

5-25-08 Sculpture in the Garden!

Warren and I have officially installed the first sculptures at the Garden of the Gods.......It is now a sculpture garden! WAHOO! Our new gates are in and roads are started thanks to donations from Michael Ribelin. First pieces include James Vilona's bronze "Discovery Chair" that is mounted to bearings and spins. Kevin Box' "Ladder of the Rising Stars" fabricated, powder coated steel and Eric Ober's powder coated steel "Chaos". We will be installing Warrens bronze "Sky Totem" later this week. It was a beautiful day that included a lot of clearing of brush from around the spring areas and establishing of trails. Our neighbor and famous historian Marc Simmons joined us for story telling around the campfire, an evening complete with hotdogs, marshmallows and friends. It has begun.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, as a means of providing its students with hands-on learning experiences, is working with the Garden of the Gods Sculpture Center, a non-profit arts organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico to design a public Sculpture Center on a breathtaking 35-acre property just south of Santa Fe along the scenic Turquoise Trail.

Presentation boards, models and master plans are part of an exhibit the students and faculty produced for the public relations and fund-raising phase of the project. The $11 million project, when complete, will house 6-10 resident artists, staff, studio workshop space, and a public gallery/exhibition space for the artists in residence.

The project applies in-depth research in sustainability to produce a design for the clients that includes passive solar heating, cooling, and ventilation, photo voltaic electricity, local building materials, and indigenous design references. The design intends to celebrate the natural qualities of the site by creating a dialog with the natural landforms and framing distant views. As well, the clients intend to set aside portions of the property as a conservation easement and enhance a natural wetland spring on the property.

The School considers proposals from organizations interested in collaborating on designs related to sustainability, social responsibility, and arts/culture. Other projects we've worked on include the Mississippi project for post-Katrina housing, an Orphanage near Pondicherry, India, and collaborations with the American Institute of Architects' initiatives to envision the future of two Western towns: Lake Havasu City, AZ and Mountain Green, UT.

- Victor Sidy
Dean of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture

12-07 Southwest Art Magazine Article

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

11-1-07 Taliesin Phase 2

Alexander Dzurec, Principle of Autotroph Architecture firm in Santa Fe, traveled with Warren and Kevin to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. to continue the next phase of design develpment. Updated presentations were made and students were interviewed for an apprentice exchange program. Above photos depict two of the many "shelters" designed and built by students that live at Taliesin West.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

10-17-07 Executive Architect joins team

One year after purchasing the land, we have officially added an Executive Architect to our team. Santa Fe resident Alexander Dzurec, Principle of Autotroph Design: an architecture, planning and consulting firm evolved from Mazria Odems Dzurec, has been a long time leader in the field of sustainable design. Alexander will be assisting in the next phases of architectural planning, further developing the concepts established by the Frank Lloyd Wright School. We are very excited for this to begin our second year of "Cultivating the Garden."

Monday, June 25, 2007

6-8-07 Newspaper Article