Las Cruces artist Virginia Maria Romero has donated four signed prints to the Doña Ana County Government Center for permanent display. The pieces are on display on the second floor near the elevators.

Romero is a 20-year resident of Doña Ana County who has shown her work regionally, nationally and globally. She said she is happy to be able to donate her work for public display. One of the pieces she donated is used as the official logo of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, and proceeds from sales of the print go to the shelter.

Romero’s original retablos were featured recently in the Abrazos Gallery of the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso. She also donated a piece to the Vatican.

The four pieces featured at the Doña Ana County Government Center are titled “Outcasts,” “Migration,” “Survival” and “Tonantzin.”

“Outcasts” was created as a painting in 2008 after she toured the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley and saw the animals awaiting adoption. The piece features the faces of multiple animals staring at the viewer with piercing yellow eyes.

“Migration” also has an animal theme, and Romero said it represents the ways in which animals and people are forced to co-exist to survive.

“Survival” was inspired by the story of a veteran of the Military Police Corps in Iraq who returned home from battle. The piece depicts Our Lady of Guadalupe and a wolf totem, and the original is part of the veteran’s personal wolf altar.

“Tonantzin” was created after the 2008 death of Romero’s mother. A friend who saw the piece related to Romero a story of Tonantzin, the goddess of earth and corn in historic Mexican folklore. The piece was selected for the National Park Service’s website homepage during the time that Romero’s work was featured at the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso.

Romero’s works join a vibrant art collection at the Doña Ana County Government Center, which includes a new student art show every six months, as well as the following pieces:

* A series of historical photographs in the upstairs rotunda.

* A spectacular photograph of the Organ Mountains donated in 2007 by Las Cruces artist R. Frederick Silva. The piece, titled “Fall Splendor,” hangs on a second floor east wall, adjacent to the main entrance to the administrative offices of the Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners and the Office of the County Manager.

* An original oil painting by Las Cruces artist Alice Terry donated to the Doña Ana County Government Center in February of 2009 for permanent display. The painting, titled “Heart of the Problem,” depicts a dry desert arroyo and represents the artist’s respect for the power of arroyos and the damage they can inflict to property during the summer monsoon season inherent to southern New Mexico.

* Caballo de Las Cruces, one of New Mexico’s most famous painted ponies, is covered with more than 2 million tiny, decorative, glass beads. The pony is for sale by the Doña Ana Arts Council, with the proceeds to benefit the historic Rio Grande Theatre. To date, none of the bids for it have met the minimum allowable for sale. The pony will remain on display near the main reception desk of the Doña Ana County Government Center until it changes ownership. Caballo de Las Cruces was designed by local artist Julienne Hadfield. The beading process took more than 4,000 hours to complete by a dedicated group of more than 100 community volunteers. The pony was designed to honor Las Cruces and the surrounding area.

* “The Gift” by New Mexico artist David Linn is on loan from the New Mexico Arts Council’s Art in Public Places program. The painting is hung downstairs near the central elevators.

The public is invited to view the student art show, Caballo de Las Cruces, “Fall Splendor,” “The Gift,” “Outcasts,” “Migration,” “Survival,” “Tonantzin” and “Heart of the Problem” at any time during normal county business hours.

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews: may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (575) 525-5801.