Keystone’s statuary walk includes many pieces of art attributed to world renowned artist, John Houser. Known internationally for his work on the XII Traveler’s Project. The third “Traveler” Susan Shelby Magoffin, we’re proud to say is located at Keystone and will be featured in a paper dedicated to her story. Mr. Houser was also commissioned to create two busts for the late Josephine Banuelos Lira. These two pieces of art are dedicated to her father Jose Lopez Lira and grandfather, Jesus Banuelos Lira, direct relatives of the monarchy of Spain and Don Juan Onate.
Keystone’s location along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the route utilized for many years by Native Americans, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo traders seemed a natural fit when the Banuelos-Lira Family approached our Board with their story. Mr. Houser’s works of art, coupled with the family heritage and proximity to the “Trail” would be a great way to expand our outreach to visitors from around the world.
The leader of the first great expedition that traveled thru this area thus creating El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was Don Juan de Onate in 1598. Jesus Banuelos Lira was a cousin of Onate and lived in El Paso’s Mission Valley for 74 years. He was a champion rodeo rider and roper but was known mainly for his farming and ranching prowess, often supplying much needed water to his neighboring fellow farmers. He provided land for poor and middle-class citizens in the area, a school, and Mt. Carmel Cemetery. He was also a veteran of the Spanish American War, stationed at Ft. Bliss.
Jose Lopez Lira continued his father’s legacy of good will and was known also as one of the best baseball players in early El Paso, pitching several no-hitters as well as playing every position on the roster.
We’re proud to share the heritage of our neighbors to the south as well as the many other stories of early El Pasoans that make up the montage of cultures here in far west Texas and the Southwest.
We are also very proud and privileged to be able to display the incredible art of the late John Houser and his son, Ethan. Visit Keystone and enjoy these masterpieces as well as the growing number of statues, photographs and monuments donated by other artists from near and far.