Ilissa Gilmore Photo
A few miles south of the city on U.S. 285, drivers will get a glimpse of a close encounter of the Roswell kind.
Unveiled Monday, a mural installation by Salinas, Calif.-based artist John Cerney depicts a rural family welcoming a group of bewildered, stranded aliens to Earth. The mother offers a freshly baked pie to a confused, tall, green man as the other aliens look on with similarly alarmed expressions.
The humans are a little more curious than concerned. The young daughter stares open-mouthed, as her father smiles and tips his hat, but loosely holds a rifle by his side, “just in case,” Cerney said.
Nearby, another alien holds jumper cables that the family’s son has attached to his truck in an effort to give the spaceship a jump start.
Cerney conceived the idea for the quirky scene months ago and decided to donate it to the city. He recently installed the cut-out figures on land owned by the Marley Ranch.
Unlike other murals, Cerney prefers to use an area’s actual landscape as a background. The effect creates a three-dimensional feel that lends realism to the surreal sight.
“It’s a traffic stopper,” said Dorrie Faubus-McCarty, executive director of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce.
If the faces of the piece’s mother and father seem familiar, it’s because they are modeled after Faubus-McCarty and Bill Marley of Marley Ranch.
In addition to the Chamber of Commerce and Marley Ranch, Faubus-McCarty said organizations such as the UFO Museum, Candlewood Suites, Dean Baldwin Painting, Cattle Baron and Builders Do It Center helped to bring Cerney’s vision to life.
Cerney specializes in eye-popping spectacles. He is known for creating larger-than-life figures, such as a series of 18-foot tall fieldworkers installed in his home state, honoring the area’s labor force.
Though closer to life-size, the Roswell mural is still sure to grab the attention of passersby, Cerney said.
“They’re shocked a little bit by this,” he said. “This is more, ‘Wow!’”
Solar-powered LED lights on the bottom of the spacecraft add extra wow factor. Running 24 hours a day, the lights will pique interest to the mural at night, Faubus-McCarty said.
“You see the lights at night and it looks like something’s landed,” she said. “But you’re not sure what.”