Caretaker, The Lightning Field
Application deadline: Open until filled
Full Time based in New Mexico
$54,400-$68,000 per year
The Lightning Field (1977), by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land art situated in a remote area of the high desert of western New Mexico. Commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation, The Lightning Field is recognized internationally as one of the late-twentieth century’s most significant works of art. It exemplifies Dia's commitment to supporting art projects whose nature and scale exceed the limits normally available within the traditional museum or gallery.
The starting salary for this role is $54,400 per year. Consideration of a starting salary above $54,400 per year but not to exceed $68,000 per year, will be reviewed at time of offer based on level of experience and qualifications for the role.
The Caretaker is a full-time position overseeing all on-site operations during visiting season from May through October. Working year-round, the Caretaker oversees and cares for the 7000 acres including and surrounding The Lightning Field, as well as associated buildings, structures, and vehicles. This position works closely with the Assistant Caretaker and other Lightning Field staff and supervises contractors that assist with daily operations and maintenance of the property and the sculpture. The Caretaker routinely consults and communicates with the Associate Administrator and the New York office.
This is a multifaceted position ideally suited for an individual who is able to work independently, is organized and has managerial and communication skills, has extensive experience living in remote rural locations, understands the requirements of effective management of ranch lands, is committed to supporting the conservation and structural integrity of the sculpture, and takes pride in providing a unique and memorable visitor experience according to the original standards and stipulations set forth by the artist.
Essential Job Duties & Responsibilities
- Oversee all maintenance and upkeep of Dia properties and buildings year round, including access roads, visitors’ cabin, tiny house, shop, and other structures at the site and in Quemado, New Mexico, including residential plumbing, septic systems, electric and wiring; this work requires regularly lifting heavy equipment (50 lbs and above) and manually carrying it out into the field; extensive walking; trench digging over multiple miles; pouring concrete; post hammering; climbing ladders; other physically exerting tasks
- Oversee all facilities preparations for the visiting season, maintain facilities and roads during the visiting season, and close down visiting operations at the end of the season
- Assess when outside contractors need to be hired to assist with repairs or projects
- Work with the Assistant Caretaker to maintain the structural integrity of poles and foundations
- Work with the New York office and Associate Administrator to resolve staffing issues and problems that may occur with visiting operations or facilities, and to procure supplies and equipment
- Stay informed of visiting schedule and transport visitors between Quemado and the site as needed
- Ensure that vehicles used for transport and/or business purposes are kept clean and in working condition; perform vehicle related repairs and maintenance as needed
- Coordinate with housekeeping staff to ensure that the visitors’ cabin is clean, stocked, and maintained according to prescribed standards; ensure food preparation meets the highest standards of safety and quality control
- Work with Managers and Administrator to procure large equipment and vehicles
- Submit expense receipts, invoices, bills, etc., to the New York office
- Work with the New York office to hire housekeeping staff and additional drivers as needed
Education, Certifications, Experience:
- Must have proven expertise and hands-on construction experience to perform the duties listed above
- Certification in plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc., preferred
- Must have a valid New Mexico driver’s license and a clean driving history
Knowledge, Skills, Abilities:
- Understanding of and commitment to the artist’s intentions for the presentation of The Lightning Field to the public
- Knowledge of New Mexico and especially Catron and Cibola Counties and Quemado/Pie Town area
- Proficient with tools and equipment necessary for maintenance of Dia’s properties including general knowledge of residential electric and wiring, plumbing, and septic systems, wells, structural building maintenance, etc.
- Able to repair and maintain passenger vehicles and heavy equipment including diesel mechanics
- Able to operate a four-wheel-drive vehicle and expertise in off-road driving in adverse conditions required
- Able to troubleshoot and repair vehicles in the field
- Able to operate heavy equipment including a motor grader, back hoe, and front-end loader
- Knowledge of fence construction and repair
- Must be highly independent, organized, reliable, and a self-starter
- Must be able to manage staff, contractors, and projects in a timely manner
- Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to engage with visitors highly desirable
Working Conditions and Physical Demands
- Required to live in close proximity to The Lightning Field year-round
- Routinely work outside with exposure to fluctuating and extreme weather conditions and temperatures
- Required to occasionally drive and transport visitors in adverse off-road conditions and repair vehicles in the field
- Physical exertion to lift, move, or carry heavy objects
- Must be available at all times while visitors are on-site; approximately 15 scheduled days off during the visiting season (May 1 through October 31); at all other times the position requires being on call 24 hours a day, 7 days per week
Please note that to provide a safe workplace free of recognized hazards and to take every possible step to reduce the transmission of COVID among our employees, Dia requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon hire, except for those who obtain an exemption due to a medical condition, a religious belief, or pregnancy.
Qualified candidates are invited to apply by completing the online job application, linked here, and attaching a resume and letter of interest.
Dia provides a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package with significant employer contributions towards the cost of healthcare premiums. The 401(k) plan provides 100% employer match up to 4% of the employee’s deferral and immediate vesting. Paid time‐off benefits include three weeks of vacation, ten days of sick leave, thirteen holidays, and a generous parental leave program. Work-related travel expenses are fully covered. Additionally, staff ID badges gain reduced or free admission to most American museums and arts organizations.
Dia Art Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, national origin, ethnic origin, citizenship status, disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, marital status, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law in its employment policies. In addition, Dia will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and supports an equitable, inclusive, and neurodiverse workplace.