The Commemorative Bronze Relief
In an effort to illuminate the story of the fight for equality in the San Luis Valley, the Maestas Committee held an open call for artists to create a commemorative piece. Artist Reynaldo "Sonny" Rivera was selected from a pool of talented submissions to bring the story to life.
Mr. Rivera is a native of Mesquite, New Mexico. Before becoming a professional artist, Rivera served 4 years with the U.S. Navy and had a successful career as a barber. His first love had always been art, so at age forty he went off to art school in Chicago, and later continued his education in Italy, Mexico, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Rivera’s principal public artworks have included historical and modern-day themes such as the Spanish colonizers of New Mexico at the Albuquerque Museum; the Santa Fe Trail sculpture at Museum Hill in Santa Fe; a “9-11 Memorial” for the city of Broomfield, Colorado; a Korean War Medal of Honor recipient for the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque; and a monumental bronze sculpture of world-renowned author Rudolfo Anaya for the City of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
The Maestas Case Relief was donated by LeRoy and Rosalie Martinez, San Luis Valley natives whose families homesteaded in the Valley in the 1800s. They and their families have faced discrimination first hand. The couple believes that education is the great equalizer. They felt moved to donate the bronze relief to commemorate the Fransico Maestas et al vs. George H. Shone et al. case, so future generations would continue to learn from the past and push forward to a brighter future.