The Bataan Memorial Office Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Capital city, is home to the State Office for Veterans’ Affairs, the New Mexico Arts offices…and a fine art collection belonging to the people of New Mexico. Most of them have never seen it. And, very few Santa Fe visitors think to visit a state office building to view this collection.
In the early months of World War II, over 900 New Mexico soldiers perished in the infamous Bataan Death March, near Luzon in the Phillipines. Of the thousands who died, this small state’s share seemed out of proportion. On the first floor, an impressive mural by Gilberto Guzman pays tribute to the grieving mothers those soldiers left behind.
Then, up the non-assuming stairwell, the mood is livelier with contemporary works lining the halls outside the Arts offices. Work by Robert Motherwell, our new painter acquaintance Paul Shapiro, and heavy sculptures of light slippers by Rachel Stevens.
So, if you find yourself in Santa Fe, and you tire of the endless galleries and “art” shops, take a break and know that the public is welcome to wander through the Capitol, and the Bataan Memorial Building in search of reverence and some fine art. You won’t see it anywhere else!