Maisel’s Murals

Book cover of The Maisel's Murals, 1939.

On Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 2 pm, Archaeologist and Historian Paul Secord will present a program on the history of the murals painted at Maisel’s IndianTrading Post on Route 66 in downtown Albuquerque. This talk is based on Secord’s books on Maisel’s Murals and will include slides with accompanying descriptions as a PowerPoint presentation.

The program will be held at the Albuquerque Museum at 2000 Mountain Rd. NW in Old Town. Parking is free in the lot south of the Museum. Admission to the Museum and the AHS program is also free.

The murals fronting the entrance of Maisel’s Indian Jewelry and Crafts store at 510 Central Avenue SW, Albuquerque, are a treasure of Native American painting and are of national importance. They represent some of the earliest and finest paintings by a seminal group of Southwestern native artists. The Maisel’s Murals Restored: Native American Art of the American Southwest book is a follow-on to the author’s The Maisel’s Murals 1939 – Native American Art of the American Southwest published by Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2018. However, it is a stand-alone publication designed to be a viewer guide to the subject art works, i.e. a companion for the observer to assist in the understanding of what they are seeing when they look at the murals and to allow for individual interpretation of what is being viewed, rather than to be a presentation of names, date, and basic facts about the murals.

The mural’s subject matter demonstrates a unifying thematic context. Through the use of paired opposites, cultural themes and subjects can be compared and contrasted. In addition, the stylistic differences between artists, while showing the strong influence of training at “The Studio” art program at the Santa Fe Indian School established by Dorothy Dunn, they also demonstrate considerable differences in execution.

The Maisel’s building was designed by legendary New Mexico architect John Gaw Meem, popularizer of the Santa Fe Style. Meem hired well-know Santa Fe artist Olive Rush for a total of $1,500 to paint the murals. She then hired eleven Native Americans to undertake the project and saw to it that they were paid a fair wage. Rush included artists of varying ages, from forty-four year old Awa Tsireh of the first generation of Pueblo painters, to sixteen year old Popovi Da, a beginning Studio painter and the son of famous potters Maria and Julian Martinez, as well as including representatives of other principal Native American cultures in the Southwest.

View a five minute overview of Maisel’s Murals on NMPBS ¡COLORES!

Photo of Paul SecordPaul R. Secord, as an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, spent the summer of 1969 at the UNM archaeological field school project at Sapawe, New Mexico, under the direction of Dr. Florence Ellis. After completing his undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Geology he obtained a graduate degree in geology (MA), also at the University of New Mexico. In 1974 he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Southern California, and began a professional career as an environmental planning consultant specializing in historic evaluations and cultural resource management.

Prior to retiring, he maintained active membership in the American Institute of Certified Planner (AICP), the professional organization for urban and environmental planners. He is also a member of the Society for American Archaeologists (SAA), the professional organization for practicing archaeologists. Since moving permanently to New Mexico in 2010, he has been involved in various history and archaeology projects, and is the author or editor of a number of books pertaining to archaeology and mining history in New Mexico.