Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

Close

Robert “Bobby” Valdez

ShareAdd page to my spaces
About the Artist/Site

Although the main state highway bypasses much of Las Vegas’s residential and commercial community, there is a lovely downtown plaza rimmed with historical buildings, and others grace the surrounding streets, setting off some of the empty storefronts. A town of some 13,700 that boasts both a community college and a small university, in some areas Las Vegas nevertheless has the feeling of a semi-deserted/semi-dying Western town. All the same, it has become the site of two significant art environments, although Casey Marquez’s famed Casa de Colores has, as of this writing in November 2014, greatly deteriorated, and it can no longer really be considered extant.

But there is another noteworthy site as well. Over the last 20-25 years, Bobby Valdez has been creating a vibrant and compelling group of sculptures around his home in the southern part of town. In front of the two-story clapboard home is a series of brightly-painted and rather anomalous images. To the narrow space left of the driveway are a welcoming Mickey and Minnie Mouse and a pink elephant; this may be what initially catches the eyes of passersby. But directly in front of the house, although somewhat hidden from the street by the perimeter fence and mature trees, are several dinosaurs, including a baby Triceratops (?), as well as those resembling smaller-scale Brontosauri. The head of one functions as a housing for the rural mailbox. There is also a large Virgin whose halo is a Star of David, a snake that may be the one from the Garden of Eden, an eagle stretching its wings, and a parrot in a palm tree; ferocious-looking alligators creep along the ground, a caveman aims at one of the prehistoric creatures (despite the posted “No Hunting” sign), and a gorilla, just slightly less than full scale, struts his stuff toward the side.

To the rear of the house is a swimming pool, drained at the time of my visit; it and a covered porch are enhanced with such fairy tale creatures as Mother Goose followed by a couple of goslings, but also by a leaping dolphin, an oversized turtle, a monkey climbing a palm tree, and more.

Valdez mixes his concrete mortar in small batches in a well-used wheelbarrow, and then paints the works in vibrant – and not always “true to life” – colors (witness the pink elephant). A veteran of the Vietnam War, he was severely injured during his service; indeed, he was paralyzed for a while, and remains disabled. Yet this disability has not prevented him from creating his widely varied and innovative sculptures; in fact, he began this work only after retiring from the military.

Much of the work is visible from the street, and if Mr. or Mrs. Valdez are at home, they are generally very pleased to show off the sculptures.

Note, Aug. 2016:  Bobbie and his wife have moved away from the home, as have the shelter residents who recently lived there. It is speculated that the home is in foreclosure, and the future of the artwork is therefore uncertain.

Note, February 2017: The Valdez sculpture garden has been purchased by a family who reportedly intends to maintain and preserve both the house and the artwork. They are in touch with the artist, and expect to remain in contact with him as they work to maintain the property and Valdez’s sculptures.

~Jo Farb Hernández



Map and site information

521 South Pacific Street
Las Vegas, New Mexico, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 35.581596 / -105.220362

Discussion

We welcome visitors' comments about this site. If you have additional information you feel should be included, or have questions or comments, please share your thoughts with us here.

Leave Your Comment

The SPACES website allows you to save your favorite art environments and share them with your friends or colleagues. Create your own portfolio of your favorites from environments in the online collection.

Send them to your friends, post them on Facebook or to your Twitter account!

Look for this button on pages that can be saved:

Add Page to my spaces