Monday, September 21, 2015


Sept. 26, 2015

What are you going to be this year?
Don’t feel you have to settle on just one choice, but you’d better get a move on. Time is running out, and as a public-spirited Las Crucen, you have a lot of dressing up to do.
Your costume inspirations might be guided by four crucial choices here in the Mesilla Valley: Occasion. Occasion. Occasion. Occasion.
Actually, if you add in private parties, school and church gatherings, comics  conventions, mazes and fun houses, there are even more.
But the big four here continue to be, in order of their appearance, the Zombie Walk Oct. 24, Halloween on Oct. 31, Dia de los Muertos celebrations Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in Mesilla and  the Dona Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance ArtsFair Nov. 7 and 8.
All those cosplay ops may have their own devoted followers, but you’ll be welcome at any or all events.
Especially if you’ve dressed for the occasion.
Some of our favorite local costume emporiums, like the Gen! and La Vieja, may no longer be with us, but with all the theater groups and talented artists in town, there are a lot of rich resources and creativity to draw upon.
And I’ve discovered the commercial permanent and pop-up costume stores are catering more and more to local tastes. I found separate Dia de los Muertos boutiques within ABC Party World and Spirit Halloween this year, for instance, and many of the superstores seem more attuned to our desire for fetching Renaissance and zombie ensembles.
For the last couple of decades, even when we had just two big costume occasions, RenFaire and Halloween, I’ve been in quest of the perfect universal costume  for our FTFCS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Costume Season).
For a while, I thought I’d hit on the perfect costume with an epoch-ambivalent long gown with angel wings.
It worked quite nicely for three out of four of our big costume fiestas.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, costume aficionados: Angels are always welcome.
On Halloween, it always felt right to be an angel, whether I was handing out treats at my front door, or journeying off to a special party. (Angelic traveling tip: don’t put on your wings until you arrive at your destination, especially if you’re driving.)
If I added a Renaissance motif or two, some period trim and maybe draped the halo with a flower garland,  my angel outfit always seemed suitable for RenFaire strolls around Young Park. And certainly, with or without a Calavera mask or face-painting, it always felt appropriate to be an angel at Dia de los Muertos events, whether I was strolling the Mesilla Plaza, inspecting altars,  or joining in the twilight cemetery processions. (The procession is on Nov. 2. Don’t forget your marigolds and noisemakers.) I always felt I was performing a public service, in fact, for kids or newcomers braving what might be their first experiences with all those merry but potentially scary skeletons.
Yet somehow, I could never figure out how to make an angel work for the Zombie Walk. I suppose I could have torn, singed and bloodied the wings and gown. And lurched with the crowd, calling for brains.
But an angel is an angel and a zombie is a zombie.  Angels fly, float, play harps and sing and act, well, angelically. Lurching is simply not an angel thing.
Let me know if you’ve come up with the universal, perfect costume for our FTFCS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Costume Season).
In the meantime, get out there and get ready. And don’t get daunted if seems like all the good costumes – or the costumes of your dreams - have been taken.
Inspiration is everywhere, and if you don’t feel your first FTFCS outfit is all you’d hoped, you’ll have several more chances to get it just right, assuming that’s your goal.
But for most of us, especially kids of all ages, it’s all about the adventure of trying on a new identity for an hour or a day, having an adventure and a good time.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


SEPT 2O, 2015 
A couple of decades of extraordinary growth have brought some innovative, amazing and sometimes controversial architecture to the Mesilla Valley. But there are two buildings that seem, more than any others, to embody the corazon y alma — the heart and soul — of our community.
The oldest was, alas, long gone when I first visited Las Cruces in the 1980s. But I doubt that a week has gone by since I moved here, more than two decades ago, when I have not heard at least one person mourn its passing.
The lovely old St. Genevieve’s Church is on many people’s minds this summer, as its monument, a kind of comforting ghost silhouette, was moved to make way for the new downtown plaza. The victim of structural problems and a different philosophy of progress in the mid-20th century, St. Genevieve’s is gone but apparently never forgotten. I’ve only seen photographs, but I’ve come to understand its importance by the stories you’ve told me and the emotions you’ve shared when you talk about its passing.
Luckily, the other building dear to our hearts and souls has not only survived, but prospered.
That would have been hard to predict in the mid-1990s, when I was walking the yellow brick road on what was then the Downtown Mall, trying to get a feel for the history and potential of my new home.
The truth is, my first view of the Rio Grande Theatre was discouraging. It would be another decade before visionaries, aided and abetted by historians, would carefully peel off the theater’s ugly facade and discover the graceful arch and remnants of beautiful tile work and period plaster motifs that we know today.
Back then, the old theater, still screening the occasional second-run movie, was surrounded by trash, including cigarette butts and liquor bottles, and one of the likely contributors of the skid row decor was sleeping it off nearby.
I was already a fan of the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, then centered north of Las Cruces Avenue on what most of us considered the “best” (and safest) block of the Downtown Mall. And, I suspect like most of us, that was where I stayed, except for a rare, and only in bright daylight, run for a Day’s green chile cheeseburger, or a purchase at The Popular, then a beloved but rapidly fading small department store.
When Heather Pollard told me about the generous offer of two sisters (Jan Seale Clute and Carolyn Muggenburg) to donate their portion of the theater, I felt more optimistic than I should have, after a decade of efforts to spruce up challenging Downtown Mall area that one of my cynical colleagues had termed “the graveyard of high hopes.”
But by then, I knew Las Cruces and Heather, and I’d seen what Irene Oliver-Lewis had managed to do to save and resurrect Court Junior High into what became Alma d’art High School for the Arts and Court Youth Center. I’d experienced planning sessions with several citizen dreamers and then-Mayor Ruben Smith. I realized that it might take a while to manifest a community dream. But if it’s a project that takes a village, it was clear that Las Cruces has what it takes.
I didn’t know then that it was one of the oldest surviving two-story adobe theaters in the nation. By the time I attended the black tie opening in 2005, I wasn’t really surprised how beautiful the restoration had turned out. Or that the gala outdid anything I’d experienced as an arts council executive and erstwhile party planner in wealthy Palm Beach, Fla.
After all, we had talented composer Bob Diven to create the RGT’s own symphonic-caliber theme and amazing singers, musicians and dancers to christen the theater, multi-award-winning filmmakers to immortalize its history and a crew including Tony-Award winning playwright Mark Medoff to stage its reopening. Read about all that on E1 of today’s Sun-News and learn more about the upcoming anniversary celebration on this page.
And plan to come out and enjoy a three-day celebration of the 10th anniversary of a Las Cruces milagro. It’s amazing what we can do, when we value our culture and heritage, and work together to preserve and enrich what we have for new generations.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


Sept.13 , 2015
We live in a land of art hops, from Silver City and Truth or Consequences to assorted neighborhoods in the Las Cruces metropolitan area.
Their granddaddy, the annual fall ArtsHop through galleries in Las Cruces and Mesilla, started here in 1994, and has evolved into the Downtown Ramble, a tour of 20 downtown museums, art galleries and shops and restaurants that have new art openings from 5 to 7 p.m. the first Friday of each month. It’s become a solid staple for arts aficionados.
Unfortunately, it leaves out a lot of impressive galleries that are scattered throughout Doña Ana County. There have been some attempts to remedy the situation.
The Mesquite Street Gallery Tour made a strong start, but never quite got off the ground.
The North Valley Art Loop Gallery Tour has hung in there, but I suspect many of us have a tough time remembering just when it occurs. Aa Studios owner Roy van der Aa opened his working studio, at 2645 Doña Ana Road, as a gallery in 2012 and participates in the quarterly event with artist Flo Hosa Dougherty, a founding organizer of the popular Downtown Ramble who moved her Main Street gallery to 4901 Chagar at the intersection of North Valley and Taylor roads, and El Jardín de Las Cruces Gallery, 4010 N. Valley Drive. A few home studios have dropped out, but the main three galleries continue to welcome visitors at a special event every three months. The next North Loop tour will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 13. For information, contact van der Aa at or 575-520-8752.
Mesilla galleries seem to be more inclined to support plaza fiestas rather than instituting any special joint gallery events of their own, though Carolyn and Henry Bunch, owners of Adobe Patio Gallery, 1765 Avenida de Mercado, have spearheaded some cluster art fiestas with their neighbors, and Mitch Alamag’s Rokoko Art Gallery and sometimes include imaginative works by students at Las Cruces Academy (formerly Preston Contemporary). It’s always  fun to explore the pretty little enclave off Avenida de Mesilla, where recent additions will soon include a new private school, Roundtable Children’s Academy, at what was once Lorenzo’s Restaurant, according to a “coming soon” sign. Just across from the Mercado, the new LuLu Fine Art Gallery, inside the trendy LuLu emporium at 1800 Avenida de Mesilla, offers a chance to see some of the region’s newest, most creative artists.
There have been some downtown Alameda neighborhood special events over the past decade, usually organized by artists Georjeanna Feltha and Sherry Doil-Carter.
Thanksgiving weekend walking tours at several Picacho Avenue artists’ homes and studios flourished for a while, then consolidated under one roof, artist Bonnie Mandoe’s Quesenberry Farm House, 825 Quesenberry St., where she will again host several artists on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29.
Out west, the Artists of Picacho Hills, an association founded in 2008 that now includes more than 35 artists, hosts two annual events: Art in the Garden Tour in May and a Holly Day House, an arts and crafts show traditionally held the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year, it will be Nov. 21 and Nov. 22.
Some of our oldest and most prestigious galleries continue to do solo openings and shows, including The Cutter Gallery, 2640 El Paseo Road, NMSU’s University Art Gallery in Williams Hall, University Museum in Kent Hall, and Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery, a cooperative of more than 30 artists,  just off the Mesilla Plaza. Newer galleries that have been offering some cutting edge contributions to arts here include Art Obscura, 3206 Harrelson St., Nopalito’s Galeria, 326 S. Mesquite St. and Unsettled Gallery, 905 S. Mesquite (read more about their second art exhibit with Australian artists in today’s Artist of the Week on page E5).
The scattered locations of some of our best and most innovative galleries, once honored at the annual ArtsHop, can make them less accessible for newcomers, visitors, and fans who appreciated a chance to start each fall with a state-of-our-arts-mecca tour.
One solution? Plan your own fall arts tour. Pick at least two or three favorite events or better yet, design a custom art tour of your own.
I did, with a new arts-adjacent category, that includes establishments, some of them brand new, that aren’t yet on any tours.
I’ll tell you about it in an upcoming Las Cruces Style column.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.