Artist's Passion Takes Shape

Posted in: News
By Santa Fe New Mexican
Sep 17, 2010

"Roger Lamoreau, sitting in the cab of his 38-ton crane, positioned the 103-foot boom over the bronze statue Blessed Mother, picked it up in a sling and lowered it over the reinforced concrete pedestal in the Lamy Garden adjoining the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

On the ground, Lamoreau's son Kevin, landscape designer Athena Beshur, Deacon Bill Kollasch from the cathedral, and a crew from Max's Maintenance and Construction in Sandia Park rotated the statue for the best viewing, then slipped lengths of threaded metal rod into four holes in the bottom of the piece.

They used the sharpened points to mark the position of the bolt holes on a large piece of cardboard, drew a line around the bottom of the statue with felt-tip pens, then cut the pattern out with utility knives. Working quickly, they marked the location of the holes in the concrete, drilled them about 5 inches deep and filed them with epoxy. Then a half-dozen members of the team guided the pins into the holes. The whole process took about 20 minutes tops.

Blessed Mother is one of 14 Stations of the Cross (a depiction of the passion of Jesus) sculpted by local artist Gib Singleton, who designed the crucifix on Pope John Paul II's pastoral staff. They are on loan to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for 25 years from an anonymous donor who purchased them from Galerie Züger on West San Francisco Street.

The team, which started early Thursday, expected to finish all the installations by the end of the day. The garden, built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, was a showplace in the late 1860s, but later fell into neglect.

Earlier this week, the statues left a foundry south of Denver strapped to the backs of flat-bed trucks, covered with canvas or inside enclosed vans. Each weighs between 350 and 850 pounds. A 15th piece, a sculpture of St. John the Baptist, will be added later.

A set of the same sculptures in a smaller size was donated to El Santuario de Chimayó in 2007.

According to Galerie Züger director Fenton Moore, a friend of Singleton's, the 75-year-old artist suffers from emphysema, and seven years ago doctors gave him six days to live. He had always wanted to make the Stations of the Cross, and when he recovered enough to work, he decided to continue with his goal.

Friends of the Cathedral is raising money to help pay for a winding prayer walk, benches, pedestals and other landscaping designed by Beshur of Seeds of Wisdom. "I wanted people to have a meditative and contemplative space and retain the peaceful atmosphere that was already here," she said. She also had to make the new garden accessible to the disabled and comfortable for the children who attend events there.

The group is selling memorial benches and engraved bricks to cover the cost of improvements, as well as maintenance and insurance on the statues. To contribute, contact Wanda Vint at 989-9102.

There will be a blessing of the statues on Oct. 4, the Feast of St. Francis.

"This will be a landmark tourist attraction in Santa Fe," Moore predicted.

Contact Anne Constable at 986-3022 or aconstable@sfnewmexican.com."

SCULPTURE TITLES

Station I: Judgment
Station II: Behold Your King
Station III: Wine Colored Robe
Station IV: Blessed Mother
Station V: Simon Of Cyrenne
Station VI: Veronica's Vision
Station VII: Fallen Lamb
Station VIII: Daughters Do Not Weep For Me
Station IX: My Soul Weeps For Sorrow
Station X: Disrobed By Lots
Station XI: Be Forsaken
Station XII: Crucifixion
Station XIII: Pieta
Station XIV: Entombed

(website photographs by Athena Beshur)