The Israeli-Palestinian conflict spilled into City Hall on Tuesday over a series of graphic images on a publicly visible stucco wall in one of Santa Fe’s highly protected historic districts.
The issue wasn’t meant to be about the content of the artwork, some of which depicts armed Israeli soldiers threatening Palestinian children at gunpoint, though the politicization of the wall sparked controversy and the stark images were labeled as vulgar and anti-Semitic by Jewish leaders in Santa Fe and New Mexico.
At issue was whether applying the artwork on papier-mâché to a stuccoed exterior yard wall at the corner of Old Pecos Trail and Camino Lejo in the historic district was “inconsistent” with design standards and “inharmonious” with the district’s outward appearance.
After a nearly 2½-hour hearing that turned rowdy at times, the city Historic Districts Review Board found the art didn’t comply with design standards and upheld a decision by the land use director ordering property owner Guthrie Miller to take the artwork down. Miller may challenge the board’s decision in District Court.
Four of the six people currently on the seven-seat board were at the meeting. They voted 3-1 to affirm the land use director’s decision, with Anthony Guida casting the dissenting vote.
“The director’s decision was based on a determination that the artwork does not comply with the architectural design standards that apply in the historic review district as set forth in the city code,” Assistant City Attorney Sally Paez told the board at the beginning of the hearing, which drew dozens of people. “Specifically, the ordinance requires that publicly visible exterior walls in this district must be built of brick, adobe, rock, masonry, wood, coyote fencing, wrought iron, slump block or similar materials and dictates that stucco buildings shall be predominantly brown, tan or local earth tones.”
The meeting, which a Santa Fe police…