Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A month of artistic mini vacations, right here at home

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It’s become a joke in my family. Whenever we gather for vacations and getaways, the first place I head for, usually before I’ve unpacked my toothbrush, is the nearest museum, art gallery and/or bookstore.
“Hey, mom, didn’t you give at the office?” my son once quipped, though he didn’t complain. He understands.
When I was coordinator of a library network in metropolitan Portland, Ore., he happily accompanied me to bookstores, one of his favorite haunts, too.
When I was in charge of festival marketing for Palm Beach County Council of the Arts in Florida, he cheerfully joined me at assorted fiestas ... even the music ones, even while he was on breaks from touring with his band and later, when he was involved in festival promotions himself.
The artistic apples do not fall far from the creative mother trees.
When my mom, an art and American History teacher, took a break, and during my own stint as an art and crafts teacher, after a long week with students, we both found that nothing was more fun and restorative than curling up with our own arts and crafts projects: painting, sculpture, crewel embroidery, knitting.
I noticed during our last family vacation, there was some healthy diversification, involving the enticing diversions of large bodies of water. We all did a lot of walking: the boys ambled off to fishing holes and grandson Alex the Great, like me, a swimming fanatic, joined me for swims in lakes and pools. We all hiked to galleries and museums and fiestas, of course.
When we returned to the ranch or hotel or B & B, out came the books, the guitars and the arts and crafts materials.
We decided these vacation pursuits did not, as some might think, indicate that we are Type A, sadly work-obsessed individuals. Instead, it’s proof that we’re lucky souls who love our jobs.
And something more: art and creative pursuits in general restoreth one’s soul. The right painting, a bit of music or poetry, a play, movie, novel or eloquent dance move can be healing and inspiring, regenerating your outlook on life, your sense of hope and commitment and your very will to live.
Of course, there are limits, I thought, as I braced myself for the mountain of CDs, media releases and e-mails relating to For the Love of Arts Month. As I wend though the announcements and jpgs and personal e-mails from artists and galleries and event planners, I always get a second wind and make a resolution to budget some time to maybe make some art myself this year, and to get out and see a lot more of what Las Crucens are creating, even if I gave at the office and am arts hopping on my own time.
I remembered the very first FLAM gathering more than a decade ago at the Mesilla home of artist Miriam Lozada-Jarvis, who founded the month-long celebration with sculptor Kelley Hestir and other members of ArtForms.
Arts marketing, along with showcasing and sharing our artistic resources, were goals of that group and each year the February celebration has grown to encompass more activities and more forms of art. I have fond memories of art happenings in impromptu venues, of concerts and poetry readings, an art car parade and a Food As Art extravaganza with artistic, hand-crafted place settings, exotic cuisine and costumed dancers frolicking among the tables.
I love the big and little FLAM exhibits:from the big museum shows to one of my favorite must-see traditions, the Munson Center Mini Gallery for artists over 50, Feb. 17 to 20.
I love the displays in offices and restaurants and the fact that everyone gets into the act: young and old artists, pros and beginners.
In fact, I love For the Love of Art Month. I hope you do, too. Plan some time for a month of artistic mini-vacations and cultural tourism, right in our own backyard.
Watch for listings of special events, art demonstrations, workshops and other For the Love of Art Month events in the Las Cruces Sun-News SunLife section on Fridays during February, in Pulse, online at at Things To Do and in a new 2009 For the Love of Art Month Event Guide. Look for studio tours maps online at the ArtForms Web site at at

Want to lobby for the arts? Georjeanna Feltha sends this: “Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, the United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country needs the arts — now more than ever.” Sign a petition and, if you’d like, add comments at
Arts advocate Heather Pollard notes: “The New Mexico Finance Committee wants to cut $400,000 from New Mexico Arts” and suggests calling your state legislators to support continued funding for arts programs, especially crucial in a state that depends so heavily on arts and cultural tourism.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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