Alex Rosa, the Las Cruces artist who painted the murals hanging on the walls of the Cox Range Control Center at White Sands Missile Range, made a recent stop to visit his works.
Rosa said coming back is like visiting old friends because he developed a relationship with each painting as he created it.
“Each element has its own personality and you become familiar with that personality; you really commit with the space that you are working with,” Rosa said. “When I leave a project my mind just totally leaves it, and then when I come back years later, and I look at what I did it reawakens the relationships that I had with each object. I still wonder just how I got it all done.”
On this trip Rosa brought along his wife Barbara, his son and a couple of friends. His son was in town to attend an exhibit for Rosa’s artwork in downtown Las Cruces.
Rosa said he was commissioned to paint the murals when the interior decorator commissioned to decorate the CRCC asked him to do 10 murals, each 6 by 10 feet, depicting the history of the missile range.
“For me it was really an interesting project because there was a lot of subject matter there that I would never ever decide to paint, such as missiles and atomic explosions,” Rosa said.
Rosa said he was interested in doing the project because he had never worked on a project like this with so many large pieces for one place.
“I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to finish them in time, because I wanted each painting to have enough integrity to where over the course of time they would still be prominent pieces,” Rosa said. “I didn’t let the paintings go until I was sure that I did my very best.”
Rosa said the contractor was concerned because she wanted the project to stay on time, so in a way he was holding her hostage by not releasing the murals until he thought they were ready.
“I wanted to maintain the quality of the paintings because I knew that once they arrived on site I couldn’t make excuses for my work,” he said.
He said he wanted the murals to be proper in terms of color and design and composition so that it wouldn’t reflect a discrepancy on his part or his ability.
Rosa said he was given three months to complete the project, which he was able to finish in 1999.
“Because all of the subject matter was so new to me, I wasn’t sure that I had enough information in terms of each composition to do the painting. All I had was photographs of the missiles, but I still had to create the environment in the painting and it all had to come out of my imagination.”
“I wasn’t sure I was prepared to do that. I was pretty apprehensive when I started.”
In the end, Rosa said it was a real thrill for him to be present on opening day and see his murals on the walls of the CRCC.