Life on the SKP Ranch in Lakewood, NM has been pretty quiet so one day we decided to explore the nearby town of Artesia,. The town was named from the discovery of an artesian aquifer in the area. Having already explored the other nearby town of Carlsbad which we found to be a bit underwhelming we were hopeful that Artesia would be more interesting. Our plan for the day was to do a self guided tour of the town and explore the art sculptures there, particularly the ones known as the Cattle Drive.
We enjoyed our little stroll through the downtown area reading about the older buildings and became aware of the town’s history from the information provided in our self guided tour brochure.The highlight for us was the bronze sculptures found scattered throughout the downtown area.
Three of these sculptures were designed to represent and honor the ranching industry of southeastern New Mexico which originated in the late 1800s. These three fascinating sculptures are wrought with detail and at about 1.25 times larger than life sized they were a real treat. One called “The Rustler” depicts a rustler stealing a cattle from a herd. Many of the features of the rustler were modeled after Billy the Kid who is said to have traveled frequently in this area. Ready for a shootout with this rustler is another bronze sculpture called “The Trail Boss”.
The Trail Boss depicts the main man in charge of guarding the herd and the last of the three sculptures depicts a man called upon by the Trail boss to help. “The Vaquero”, a Spanish word for cowboy, represents the importance of the Hispanics in the area. Again all the detail in these larger than life sculptures captivated us for quite some time.
These are not the only neat sculptures in town as there is another that honors the spirit of a pioneer woman named Sallie Chisum and this was actually the first sculpture placed in town in 2003. This sculpture of a lady and some children is interesting in that Sallie Chisum’s own children were taken by their father to Europe after their divorce. One funny detail I noticed was that one of the boy children had a little frog tucked in the front pocket of his jeans.
Next we toured "The Derrick Floor ", a large sculpture which depicts a four-man crew on a drilling rig. It honors the men and women who took the risks in working to locate, produce and refine New Mexico oil and gas. Near the Derrick Floor is one of my favorites called “Partners” which depicts two of the town's businessmen, Mack Chase and Johnny Gray. These two fellows are shown leaning on the hood of an old pick-up and displays what is said to have been a typical meeting where they might have been striking one of their oil deals. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved in their discussion… At the end of the tour we found a nice brewery called The Wellhead and we ended the day sampling some of the pretty tasty crafted beverages. And yes as Barney, of Old Fat Man Adventures blog , says we found ourselves trying to have tooooooo much fun…