Friday, September 18, 2009

It’s time to tout tours in Southern New Mexico

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Las Cruces has plenty of attractions to tout, tour and celebrate at the upcoming WHAT’S ART? convention.
After we ran a story about Jackie Clark’s spectacular project, designing 46 stained glass window for Mesilla Valley Hospice’s chapel, I got a nice note from artist Jo-an Smith.
She wrote that “Jackie is one of our state’s and region’s unsung art heroes. The huge widows she created for NMSU’s Engineering Building would have been an unusual achievement, not to mention the churches and many, many privately owned windows” the 86-year old artist has created.
“As Las Cruces comes into its own as a New Mexico arts destination, I believe Jackie’s windows will be an important element to draw people here,” Jo-an said.
As it happened, I’d been thinking about taking my own private tour: Clark has six windows at NMSU.
And we have a wealth of glass treasures by other artists, too. There are those spectacular windows at Unitarian Universalist Church, including nine ecumenical “windows of faith” designed and created by the late Rev. John Trantham. And the church’s Tombaugh Gallery stained glass biographical panorama dedicated to the legendary astronomer and discoverer of (the maybe-drawf-but-still-a-planet-dammit) Pluto.
And that’s just a sampling of some of the great stained glass here, enough to warrant a stained glass tour.
In fact, we have enough hot stuff in Las Cruces now to warrant several tours. Historical tours. Garden tours. Home tours. Ghost tours. Culinary tours. Wine tours. Museum tours. Church tours. Dance tours. Lit & poetry tours. Theater tours. Historic plaza and neighborhood tours. Space history tours. Agricultural tours. Chile tours. ¡Fiesta tours!
And lots and lots of art tours, from this month’s annual ArtsHop tour of galleries to a burgeoning number of studio tours during February For the Love of Art Month. And in recent years, some downtown artists’ colonies have organized their own little tours, too. (The next one, coordinated by Ouida Touchon, will be over Thanksgiving weekend.)
In fact, we have so many attractions to tout now that tours might be a focal point for the growing number of arts marketing-oriented groups and projects.
How about some specialized tour brochures, a tour Web site, or even a tour bus or fleet?
I’ve always kind of longed for a Las Cruces arts tour bus, or even a limousine fleet during ArtsHop, even before it got so big. It would’ve been particularly nice during this month’s rainy ArtsHop 16. I hear plans are afoot to bring a double decker bus here for Winterfest, which last year offered horse-drawn carriages for downtown tours.
We could have a bus tour of artists’ studios, or even artists’ groups, with dozens of organizations that range from grandmom of them all, the Doña Ana Arts Council, to the Las Cruces Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and CAPA, the group that showcased regional artists, whose original works adorned the wall surrounding our new Las Cruces City Hall during construction.
A group that joined for an arts marketing brainstorming session convention in 2008 is getting together again this year the 2nd Annual WHAT'S ART? Convention Oct. 2 and 3 at Court Youth Center/Alma d’arte Charter School. Court Street will be blocked off on Saturday, Oct. 3 for the Street Fest portion of the event.
John Villani, author of “100 best Small Art Cities” will speak at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 about “communities creating themselves as centers of art, creativity and livability.” Sabrina Pratt, executive director of the Santa Fe Arts Commission will also join the discussion.
“We’ll have workshops all day Oct. 3 and free Street Fest events from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We’ll have music, dance, theater, art to sell, and lots of activities for all ages.,” said Irene Oliver-Lewis.
There will also be some tours: The street festival will feature storytelling tours of the Alameda and Mesquite neighborhoods and Mesilla by expert historians and activities for all ages.
For information, contact (575) 541-0145, e-mail iolewis@zoanet.com, dboje@nmsu.edu or visit online at http://talkingingstick.info.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com

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