Two New Mexicans recognized for contributions to Western arts

NMDA presents 2014 Rounders Award to Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera, Pat Evans

(SANTA FE, N.M.) – Two New Mexicans were honored Monday for contributing to the rich culture of the West through their body of work: bronze sculptor Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera and Pat Evans, the editor and cover designer for her husband, the celebrated writer Max Evans.

Both Rivera and Mrs. Evans accepted the 2014 Rounders Award from New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte at an afternoon presentation hosted at the Governor’s Residence in Santa Fe.

The Rounders Award honors those who “live, promote, and articulate the western way of life.”  The award was created in 1990 by former New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Frank DuBois.  It was named after The Rounders, a classic western novel written by New Mexican Max Evans, who, along with Witte, presented the award to sculptor Rivera. 

“Sonny has been commissioned to create more than 40 public works of art in New Mexico and all over the country,” Witte said.  “Think about that: 40 oversized works of bronze, depicting people, animals, and everything in between.”

The Rounders Award given to Mrs. Evans came as a surprise to both her and her husband Max.

“I’m not sure we’d have the Rounders – either the book or the award – without this person’s steady influence,” Witte said before announcing Mrs. Evans’ award.  “She’s the unsung hero in the famous story of Max Evans.”

Rivera was born in Mesquite in southern New Mexico.  He served in the Navy for four years, then went to barber school.  He worked as a barber in Albuquerque for nearly 20 years before, at age 40, he left for Chicago to attend the American Academy of Art in Chicago.  He continued his art studies in Italy and Mexico, among other places.  His work includes Journey’s End, the life-size piece on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill depicting travelers along the Santa Fe Trail.  Rivera is now at work on pieces for the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.  He has two daughters, three granddaughters, and one grandson.  He credits his wife, Hope Rivera, for helping him achieve such great success in the arts.

Alongside her husband Max, Pat Evans is an artist in her own right.  She designed the covers of his books after giving them their first read, helping shape them through her edits, then sitting down to type the text.  After first meeting in Taos at her parents’ general store, Max and Pat have been married for nearly 70 years.  They’ve spent colorful years in Taos, in Hollywood turning Max’s books into movies, and points in between.  The couple now lives in Albuquerque near their twin daughters Charlotte and Sheryl. 

Gathered for the presentation was a crowd of approximately 100 New Mexico farmers, ranchers, and others who, in their own small way, have helped secure the culture of the West for future generations.