Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1-25 Lawmakers' Favorite Sculptor Is Back

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Imagine my delight earlier this month to open a Happy New Year card from Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre. On the cover was a portrait of her grandson Joe Goodacre, dated November 24, 2007.
That could mean only one thing. Glenna is recovering. Last March, she suffered a fall and severe head injury at her home in Santa Fe. She was rushed to the hospital where surgery relieved the pressure to her brain. She lay in a coma for 10 days. Doctors didn't think she would survive.
Goodacre did regain consciousness but was paralyzed. She was transferred to a center for brain injuries in Colorado. But her condition worsened. In May doctors inserted a shunt into her head to drain excess fluid. And she began to recover.
It was at that point I lost track of her progress. She remained in the hospital for three months receiving therapy before returning home to Santa Fe in August to continue her recovery.
By Thanksgiving, Goodacre was able to sketch her grandson. As soon as I looked at the drawing, it was obvious her magic was back. That special style of expression and emotion was unmistakable.
Goodacre is not back to work yet. More therapy lies ahead, along with treatment for aphasia, a result of brain damage in which patients lose their ability to stay focused and concentrate.
But friends and admirers are betting Goodacre will be back. Her fighting spirit has always brought her through. She says one of her biggest blows came in college when a professor told her to stick to painting and never try sculpture because she couldn't see in three dimensions.
Now hailed by many as America's greatest sculptor, Goodacre says success is the greatest revenge. She certainly would rank at the top of the favorite-artists list with New Mexico lawmakers.
Back in the early '90s, when New Mexico was remodeling its state Capitol, one percent of the cost was to be used for artwork. Lawmakers wanted to be sure it was art that pleased them so some encouraged favorite artists to temporarily loan some of their work for all to admire.
Glenna Goodacre sculptures began to blossom everywhere. At that time, legislators were meeting in the Public Employees Retirement Association building, a block east of the Capitol.
Directly across Paseo de Peralta was the Nedra Matteucci Gallery, which featured many of Goodacre's sculptures. So getting them across the street was relatively easy. Not only were Goodacre's pieces representational, they are alive with movement and expression. It was exactly what lawmakers wanted.
Two pieces were purchased immediately and Rep. Bob Light personally bought another, as I recall, for a park in Carlsbad. In addition, Goodacre donated an edition of 99 small bronzes of Indian women with pots to underwrite the purchase of other works of art.
And thus was the Capitol Art Foundation established. It is an all-volunteer effort with members from throughout the state, which has helped produce the Capitol Art Collection, a first class collection of works by New Mexico artists.
Our state Capitol building and grounds truly are like none other in the United States. Visit any other state capitol and you will see manicured lawns, a dome and statues of dead men, usually on horseback.
New Mexico has none of that. Visitors are greeted with desert landscaping, a kiva-shaped capitol and monumental sculptures that truly are art. First and most prominent among them is Glenna Goodacre's Water Bearers, an arrangement of Indian women with pots, standing at the corner of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta.
And inside is an astounding collection of New Mexico art, from traditional to innovative representing every segment of the state.
Glenna Goodacre can be very proud of what she helped get started. And New Mexicans can be very happy that we may soon have her back to delight us with her creations.
FRI, 1-25-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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