ALBUQUERQUE, October 18 2023 – A meeting of the Albuquerque Arts Board today voted on the fate of Rosalie Doolittle Fountain at the Albuquerque Bio Park Botanic Garden.
The fountain and accompanying bench was designed, created and installed by artist Shel Neymark in 1996. It has been a beautiful and engaging presence that greets visitors to the park, but has fallen into disrepair. Over the course of this year, the Board explored various solutions for the fountain – with its inner and outer pools — and the accompanying bench which had a water feature running across the top. https://tinyurl.com/Doolittle-Fountain
Today the Board voted to partially decommission the fountain’s outer and inner pools, but to retain the bench, while removing the water feature that runs atop it. The bench itself will be restored, tiles repaired and another solution developed for the top back of the bench where the water used to flow. After analysis of the bench’s water feature, there was concern about the plumbing for the bench since it was tied into the old plumbing system. Removing the plumbing feature from the bench takes the responsibility for refurbishment, repair, redesign and upkeep away from the Bio Park and puts it squarely in the purview of the Public Arts Program, like other art pieces throughout the city, allowing it to stand as a valued and well-loved piece of art.
In fact, Sherri Brueggemann, MPA, City of Albuquerque Public Art Urban Enhancement Division Manager, noted that the Board had gotten a lot of feedback from community about the bench and its importance in paying homage to author and consummate Albuquerque gardener Rosalie Doolittle. https://tinyurl.com/Fountain-vote-postponed
Neymark himself was at the meeting, and expressed gratitude for ongoing efforts of the Board to try to come to a solution that salvaged part of the historic piece. “I thank you so much for all the energy you have put into studying this issue and listening what I had to say,” he said. “I appreciated having my perspective included. It helped in healing for me. Whatever you decide I am at peace with that.”
Neymark said he was sad that the bench would not have water on top, having seen “kids interact with that over so many years; it was an important part of the piece.” He did request that however the City moves forward, he wanted to be part of the process of restoring the bench and redesigning the top of it, on which Board members agreed.
The stone that bears Rosalie Doolittle’s name would be retained. A suggestion was made to erect a plaque that shows the fountain and bench in their original glory and describes the iconic artwork’s history.
Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN
Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor. Other interests include the soft, purring marvels known as cats, labyrinth walking, drumming and percussion, and a range of spiritual, musical and artistic pursuits.