By S. Derrickson Moore
It started as soon as I pulled in to my first stop in the City Different. I put coins in a parking meter, and found myself in front of the gallery of longtime Las Crucen David Rothermel (David Rothermel Contemporary Art at 142 Lincoln St. in Santa Fe).
I met Dr. Roger at the Inn of the Anasazi. We sipped spectacular margaritas (mine was silver, his was gold) and enjoyed a sumptuous dinner prepared by Chef Juan Bochenski, who came out to answer our questions about the mysterious preparation of the “green chile pearls” that accented our plates (Roger’s Duck Enchiladas Mole, and my Chile Almond Crusted Salmon, possibly the best salmon of my life). I won’t give away his secrets, beyond the agar agar and special care taken to retain our fave pepper’s bright flavors and colors, but I suspect that the green chile was from our stretch of high-desert country. We also discovered our bartender and waiter were great fans of Las Cruces. Their sister is an NMSU grad and they visit frequently, they explained.
At Marigold Arts on Canyon Road, we stopped in to see works by Las Crucen Robert Highsmith, whose remarkable paintings, by the by, star in the New Mexico Magazine’s 2015 Artist Calendar, “Robert Highsmith’s Views in Watercolor.”
Roger and I ended up having dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the Pink Adobe (still the best blue corn green chile chicken enchiladas on the planet, next to Roger’s) with author and former Las Crucen Jann Arrington Wolcott and her husband John, discussing what it was like to grow up in Las Cruces and Jann’s college days in NMSU’s theatre department with the legendary Hershel Zohn.
In mid-vacay, when I decided to leave our pretty little condo and head for the indoor pool at Fort Marcy Hotel Suites for an early morning swim. I struck up a conversation with the only other person in the pool, a Santa Fe resident who asked me if I knew artist Flo Hosa Dougherty of Las Cruces. “Of course,” I replied, and it turned out her husband had gone to high school with Flo and they’d all had a nice reunion in Las Cruces, not long before his recent sudden death. Since we’d all started out as midwesterners, it struck me as a little beyond coincidence that this conversation should occur in a pool where I’d never been before. But Flo, I’d like you to know that Dorothy says, “Hi.”
It wasn’t really a surprise to run into Sallie Ritter and Dr. Kent Jacobs at a Governor’s Award reception at the state capital. We knew about the ceremony and we decided it would be fun to drop in and congratulate them.
But I was a little surprised to run into so many familiar Las Cruces faces, including Sally and Glenn Cutter, who came to cheer for Sallie and Kent, who were recognized this year with the Major Contributors to the Arts Award for their estate bequest to the Museum of New Mexico. Their Las Cruces home and collection of contemporary art and American Indian pottery and textiles will eventually become a satellite Museum of New Mexico museum, called the Jacobs-Ritter Compound.
The artistic and art-loving couple were honored for a variety of contributions to New Mexico’s art community with an exhibit that showcased their multi-faceted accomplishments and included some of Kent’s books and Sallie’s paintings. Sallie was recognized for her career as an internationally-known painter and Kent, a retired physician, was lauded for his contributions that include books and years of years of service as a regent and past president of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents.
Some of the other honorees weren’t strangers, either. I’d interviewed Robert Shoofly Shufelt, who told us how he’d barely made it out of his flooded Southern New Mexico ranch (we didn’t see a drop up north, that soggy September week when Las Cruces and El Paso were getting hammered.) I’d also met and interviewed Governor’s Award winner Robert Mirabal, a multi-talented Grammy Award-winning musician, poet and artist who has appeared at NMSU’s American Indian Week here.
To check out my vacation videos of the Governor’s Awards reception, go to lcsun-news and click on this column.
Some of the old home week connections extended back more than two decades to another coast. David Setford, new director of Santa Fe’s Spanish Colonial Society (sponsors of Spanish Market), needed no introduction. We’d met in Palm Beach, Florida, when I was an executive with the Palm Beach County Council of the Arts and he was at the Norton Museum, (where he curated two of my all-time fave exhibitions: notes and sketches by Picasso and an exhibit of castle watercolors by Prince Charles). He told me he was headed to Las Cruces for a tour of our arts scene.
New Mexico may be the fifth biggest state in terms of land area, but synchronistic encounters during my fall vacation reminded me that we’re all part of a surprisingly small world, especially in the arts community.