Imagine Aztec, New Mexico in the month of July 1926. Some of the last pieces of cotton from the giant cottonwood trees glide through the air, coming to rest on the soft, dark dirt of Main Street. Shiny black cars, mostly Model T’s, are parked in the shade at an angle. Residents walk along the boardwalk or across the street intent on their daily business. A few children run into the Uptegrove Café to buy an ice cream. The air is dry; it’s a hot summer day, and the scene is peaceful.
Then something unexpected comes along. Buffalo are walking on Main Street. Their large hulking bodies pass by the buildings, and their reflections mirror their movements in the imperfect glass of the windows. Like black, wooly, sauntering ghosts, they pad along almost unnoticed at first by the people who now stop, point, and stare, murmuring among themselves.
According to the caption from a special edition of the Farmington Daily Times, July 4th, 1976, "Residents who recall the scene say Aztec’s tranquility was not in the least disturbed one summer day in 1926 when a small herd of buffalo appeared on Main Street."
That scene has been brought back to life in a mural painted by John Cogan, the award winning southwest artist known for his richly detailed paintings of landscapes and the Grand Canyon. The mural is 15 by 40 feet, and the buffalo look as if they are coming right out of the wall on the north side of the Aztec Hardware Store.
Steven Nash an Aztec Filmmaker donated his time, equipment and creativity to document the first Aztec Museum Association Public Art project. The mural was funded by a generous donation received from Dr Craig and Dorrie Edgerton.
If you would like to donate funds, time, or equipment for an AMA Public Art Project, please contact the Aztec Museum at 505-334-9829.