On any given morning during the summer of 2019, drivers on White Sands Boulevard in Alamogordo, New Mexico, passing by the Magnuson Hotel might have noticed a slender man in a cowboy hat leaning a ladder against the adobe walls and drawing what appears to be designs visible to only him. But as each day passed, dark lines and bright colors merged to become a series of stunning Southwestern Native American patterns.
The artist, Paul Vesey, traces his lineage to the Chiricahua Apache and honors his ancestors through his work by being true to a love of harmony in nature. He has been a professional artist for more than 45 years. His skill is a culmination of a lifetime of experience and a lifelong love of art and nature. “As a child, I liked to draw and my mom encouraged me – at first by giving me comics to copy and then came a set of paints,” he said. The other thing he liked as a child was bugs, and they inspired his youthful paintings.
Over the years, Vesey believes he probably has created artwork of different types in 40 states. He spent many years in Indiana living in a log cabin where his son was born, letting nature inspire his painting. While working with the Mennonites, he learned the art of woodworking and later took that talent to Taos where he received several awards for his furniture creations.
“I loved Taos, it’s beautiful,” he said, “but the winters are harsh, and Alamogordo offered new opportunities for my family.” Ten years ago, Vesey and his family moved south, and he is once again practicing his favorite art of painting. Today, the bugs he loved as a child have transformed into a series of birds on canvas that he’s working on now called “Birds of New Mexico.”
Pictographs have always been a favorite of Vesey’s, so when the Alamogordo Magnuson Hotel’s General Manager Nate Mandalia asked Vesey about helping him turn the hotel into a destination with a distinctive New Mexican flair Vesey immediately thought of the ancient art of pictographs. “It’s always a style I’ve loved, particularly when it had to do with wildlife. This gave me an opportunity to work towards bringing the ancient tradition of pictographs into today’s world,” Vesey said. “What I’m designing here represents what’s around us and in our lives and shows the connection between man and nature.” A combination of daring lines and colors, mixed with dragonflies and medicine bears, accented by lightning have transformed the exterior walls of the hotel from desert drab to a study of color and design.
“It’s very exciting to watch the process,” Mandalia said, “to see the rich tones pop off the walls and the eye-catching patterns emerge from Paul’s sketches has been amazing. It’s my dream to make this hotel into a place that represents what our Southwestern heritage and hospitality is all about. Paul’s amazing talent is helping to bring that about.”
Since Mandalia has managed the hotel, he’s remodeled the front desk area with a distinct western flavor and he’s in the process of turning each room into a warm, comforting place for guests to relax. The Alamogordo Magnuson features one of the few outside pools in town, offers two separate meeting rooms for area businesses and groups to take advantage of, and deluxe spa suites, along with standard rooms and kitchenettes.
“Our goal is to make this the hotel people want to come home to,” Mandalia said.
Vesey is not only a talented large format artist, but he also creates unique smaller pieces that Mandalia is offering for sale in the hotel’s gift shop including high quality custom shirts, prints and small stones. His artwork will complement the wide selection of southwestern gift items already offered, like handmade jewelry and novelty items from local artists. “Our guests will have an opportunity to take a piece of Paul’s beautiful artwork home with them and hopefully remind them of the wonderful time they had in our community and encourage them to come visit again,” said Mandalia.
The Magnuson Hotel and Suites of Alamogordo is located at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 82, 70, and 54. This pet-friendly hotel is close to many area attractions and facilities including the New Mexico Museum of Space History, White Sands National Park, White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base and Trinity Site. Just a short 20-minute drive up Highway 82 brings guests into the heart of the Lincoln National Forest and the quaint mountain community of Cloudcroft. For more information or reservations, call 575-437-2110.