On Sept. 5 in the Parish Memorial Library basement, guests gathered at 2 p.m. for the mural reveal created by Albuquerque-based artist Robbin Lou Bates. The mural features a colorful desert landscape, with the focal point being a detailed roadrunner.
“I chose the roadrunner, because it is not only the state bird, but I felt that it would incorporate New Mexico in a unique way in my piece,” Bates said.
Originally from Tucson, AZ, Bates discovered her love for the desert when she moved to Wisconsin to finish her undergraduate degree in fine arts.
“The desert was my biggest inspiration when I moved to Wisconsin because it’s a complete opposite from the environment I grew up in. It didn’t have the same wildlife in Arizona I found fascinating,” Bates said.
Everyone from campus was welcome to come see the unveiling of Bates’ mural, and according to the artist, she was pleased with the turnout and thought the event to be a success. Looking around at the spectators in attendance, people were intrigued by Bates’ work, and the students present had positive appreciations for the piece.
“I find it interesting that there are a lot of bold, primary and secondary colors within the environment of the mural — but then you have this photo-realistic roadrunner that juxtaposes the environment surrounding it,” said University of New Mexico student Ross Johnson.
This past year, UNM sent out a call for artists after the fall semester for submissions to be in the Parish Library for selection of a mural piece. Bates said she took that opportunity as a chance to have her work seen on a greater scale, and she succeeded. This is Bates’ first mural, and she hopes to have more opportunities in the future for furthering her career as a local artist.
“I’m really interested in wildlife and landscape, and creating those landscapes with simple shapes, while adding bright colors to them because the desert is typically known for its brown color scheme,” Bates said.
As for the mural process, Bates started the mural in the beginning of July, and finished painting her polychromatic mural in just three weeks time. Bates said her creative process pulled from her love for the desert, and appreciation of the features unique to New Mexico’s deserts.
“I was inspired by all of the yuccas in Albuquerque — they are not as prominent in Tucson. I also included the mountains in relation to the Sandias. Even though the desert here differs from the desert in Tucson, there still are a lot of similarities. Bates said her motivation behind the mural was that she wanted to take something people may not find attractive, and turn that environment into a beautiful work of art.
“I realized once I moved from the desert, how much I took that setting for granted, and that’s where a lot of my inspiration stems from,” she said.
Bates has her studio located in the Art Annex and currently teaches drawing at UNM. As for future works, Bates looks forward to what is to come for her career as an artist, and hopes for more opportunities to showcase her work and continue her creative process.
Macey Rose is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maceyrae9.