We’re all painfully aware of New Mexico clichés: from chile to bombs to balloons, this state is often identified (at least by the casual observer) by a handful of emblematic items.
So when it comes to the state quarter, which is to be released by the U.S. Mint in 2008, the question becomes: Which single cliché will be chosen to represent the Land of Enchantment? Or, to put it less cynically, can our state rise above the stereotypical images associated with it and create something bold and exciting that still represents New Mexico as a whole?
This not-so-simple task falls largely on the shoulders of the governor-appointed, seven-member Coin Commission and its nonvoting director, Arif Khan. “The commission received a submission from a La Cueva high school student that we feel really sums up what we want to accomplish in putting together our state’s quarter,” he says. Bryan Charlton, who was one of many New Mexico students to participate in the public call for quarter suggestions, told the commission that, “New Mexico should do something that no other state has dared to do. We should use a creative, beautiful and alluring symbol. Something that is simple but representative of all of New Mexico from the ancient to the postmodern."
So what form will this symbol take? It’s too early to tell for sure, and Khan was not very forthcoming with specific details, but he did say that he and the commission have looked at between 800 and 1,000 narrative submissions and have come up with a few major themes.
Khan says the commission doesn’t want the design to leave out any of the state’s cultures (so a zia symbol or a kachina doll seems unlikely). The commission also wants to be careful that the design characterizes the state but isn’t strange or unfamiliar to the rest of the nation’s residents (so a giant chile relleno is out of the question).
We still have at least a year of back and forth between the state commission, the U.S. Mint and the governor before the design is finalized, and residents will have to wait until 2008 until the quarter hits cash registers across the country, but one can’t help but wonder …
My head foresees a road runner jogging alongside the Rio Grande but my gut predicts an atomic mushroom cloud. Only time will tell.
For more info on our state quarter, visit: www.gov.state.nm.us and click on the “New Mexico State Quarter Project” link. Unfortunately, the deadline for submissions was May 12 of this year. (Sorry Alibi readers who are also quarter fanatics.)