The Santa Fe New Mexican

January 2, 2005

By Celia Shatzman

The oversized sculpture of a golden grenade outside a gallery on Paseo de Peralta sparked so much discussion that gallery owner Linda Durham held an essay contest, inviting people to tell her what they think the sculpture means.

After the 6-foot piece titled Golden Grenade by Martin Cary Horowitz was installed at Linda Durham Contemporary Art Gallery at 1101 Paseo de Peralta, many people came in asking what it meant, Durham said.

"Some people thought it was a war statement, either pro- or anti- war," she said. But "in the artist's statement, it was simply a work of art. (The contest) was also to let people understand that it was their personal opinion."

Contestants were asked to write between 400 and 800 words and turn them in by December 1.

Colleen Martin, 17, who won second prize and $200, was one of 36 people - and three or four youths - who submitted essays. "I can see that she's a really conscientious and thoughtful person," Durham said.

Martin, a junior at Monte del Sol, said she hopes to pursue creative writing after high school. Both her mother and her mentor in the school's mentorship program encouraged her to participate in the contest.

"I thought what the grenade meant is it sparked all these new ideas and conversations," Martin said of her essay, Mind Field, "and the most important part about it is it made you think about what it could possibly mean to you.

"The size of (the grenade) could mean war is too big for us to handle. I also thought, because the grenade was really shiny and reflective, it could mean that it was sort of telling us to reflect on what we've done and to look back and think about stuff that we've done in our past."

The essays were judged by three Santa Feans chosen by Durham who are connected to the arts but not closely associated with the gallery: Diane Karp, director of the Santa Fe Art Institute; Romona Scholder, a psychotherapist, collector and patron of the arts; and Theodore J. Flicker, a screen writer, film director and novelist.

"I'm a great reader and passionate writer, and I just was very moved that people went through the trouble to enter," Durham said. "I found a kind of warmth and sincerity and intelligence in the hearts and words of the people I didn't even know that were responding to something that I put up in front of my business, and that's what I really liked. Plus, all the conversations that happened in the gallery because of the piece. I think that's what art should do -- it should engage people and give them an opportunity to think, see and feel and express themselves."

Reverie Escobedo, a Spanish-language teacher at Willow and Rio Grande elementary schools and the Community College, won the $500 first prize for her essay, Golden Dreams; Dennis Branch received $100 for his third place essay, Army.

Martin said she was surprised when she found out she was one of the winners, since she felt intimidated entering the contest because of her age. She still has not decided how she is going to spend her prize money, but she is considering donating it to the Quakers. "I've just been going there, and it seems sort of appropriate, since the Quakers represent a very peaceful organization," she said.

The Golden Grenade is still for sale at $40,000.

Copyright 2005 Santa Fe New Mexican