Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get ready for FLAM WAPP

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Get out your most artistic outfits and accessories and prepare to strut your stuff.
I’m hereby proclaiming the first For the Love of Art Month Wearable Art Promenade and Parade (FLAM WAPP) on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Downtown Mall and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on and around the Mesilla Plaza.
I’m not applying for an official parade permit and I hope nobody else will either. We aren’t talking floats and elephants here (unless you feel like dressing up like a parade float or an elephant). The times listed above are already community gatherings for the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market and Mesilla’s annual For the Love of Art Celebration, so people will be ambling around anyway.
I’m just asking you to step it up a notch, don those artsy duds and promenade — or hop, waltz, salsa, tango, two-step or breakdance, if the spirit moves you.
I want to stress that this is an all-arts event, so you’re also welcome to sing, play a musical instrument, or recite a poem or a soliloquy from your favorite play or movie as you promenade.
But visual art is key for the FLAM WAPP, so it’s important that you bring your most artistic game face (henna, temporary tattoos and any other kind of face painting will be welcomed) and your most wonderful wearable art for the unauthorized parade.
And don’t let anyone stop you.
In case some of you are intimidated by the concept, let’s talk a little about wearable art.
It could be anything that makes you feel artistic: a beret, a cowboy hat with a hand-beaded hat band, a silver concho belt, a hand-woven shawl, a painted shirt or jeans, an old broach, necklace or ring that belonged to an arty ancestor, socks knitted by your aunt, that braided friendship bracelet your kids made at camp...
You get the idea. Now, come up with your own ideas. You’ll get extra points for unusual combinations, double scores for original one-of-a kind wearable art clothing and accessories made in our territory, and gold medal status for wearing anything you’ve created yourself.
Not that anybody will be keeping score. Art is its own reward and the FLAM WAPP is pure arts for art’s sake.
Though art can sometimes be a solitary and lonely pursuit, for FLAM WAPP, it’s the more, the merrier.
Dress up the kids, dress up the dog.
Promenade. Promenade.
If you live in this territory, it’s your patriotic duty to be artistic this month. If someone in your circle of friends is shy or a stick-in-the mud, stick a feather in his cap and call it macaroni. (Or stick a macaroni bracelet on her wrist and call it performance art.)
Art, like love, has no limits.
If you still feel you need authorization, you can blame it on a FLAM founding muse: me. I’ll never forget that memorable day out on a colorful back yard patio when I gathered with Kelley Hestir, Miriam Lozada-Jarvis and other creative souls who would later start ArtForms, sponsor of the first For the Love of Art Month in 1998.
Since then, FLAM has burgeoned and flourished, encompassing more events, artists, art fans and diverse forms of visual and performing arts, including more theatrical, musical and literary events.
But I’m a bit concerned about complacency. Eternal vigilance and innovation is the price of liberating our artistic natures.
In its early years, FLAM included spontaneous art happenings and wonderfully artistic and nutty events like an Art Car Parade and a multimedia banquet with place settings created by top local artists, plus exotic, artistic food, and ballerinas, flamenco dancers and kicklines cavorting on and around the tables.
Let’s get back to those pioneering days. If there isn’t already an art exhibit or happening planned at your favorite office, community center, restaurant, or place of business, get everyone together and put on a show this month. Commit random acts of art wherever you are. Do strange things in the name of art.
Are you ready to carry the torch and keep the spirit of FLAM alive?
Start by buying, finding, combining or making something new and artistic. Wear it proudly for FLAM WAPP on Feb. 13 ... and/or, anytime, before, during or after our official month-long fiesta.
It all starts tomorrow.
Do it For the Love of Art.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You want to save that tree!

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — If you agree with poet Joyce Kilmer, “Only God can make a tree.”
But it seems to take a whole village to save one, and a lot of bureaucrats and elected officials to tell us when, why, whether and how to do it. (See today’s feature.)
It’s clear you want to save the south Downtown Mall Chinese Pistache, which many of us think may be the city’s most beautiful tree. After a Jan. 10 Las Cruces Style column broached the subject, you called, e-mailed and stopped me on the street to offer support for our arboreal amigo.
There were offers to petition, plan, protest and even picket to save not only that tree, but several others. One reader suggested we need a special “heritage tree ordinance” to protect our leafy legacy for future generations. As “green” concerns escalate and officials stress that the city has a commitment to ecological planning, many of you think this would be a good place to put those inspiring words into action.
For more of your comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.
Here’s a sampling of what you have to say:
Caroline M. Wozniak: I read your (Jan. 10 Las Cruces Style column) and want to congratulate you. This is the first mention I have read in anything in defense of the “destruction” of trees, walkways, etc. I wrote a letter a while back to someone on the planning committee about what the plans were for the trees in the south mall. I did not even get a telephone call, letter or e-mail in response.
Contrary to your belief, I think the north mall remodeling is terrible! The venders and their portable umbrella-like coverings are an eyesore compared to the symmetrical overhead structures and the natural beauty of trees and walkways which were beautiful. I think the city is making a big mistake and I cannot condone the cutting down of living trees. Do they realize how long it will take to make the area look other than bare and ugly once they destroy this section as they have the north section of the mall? I do not look forward to the weekly visits and have avoided the area in the past months. It is not inviting and looks “cheap” and manufactured and not the least bit welcoming.
I know the powers that be are in charge, I just wanted to agree with you 100% - SAVE THE TREES.  We are in an era of “thinking green” for the welfare of the country and the world and here in Las Cruces, we destoy LIVING TREES for a concrete sidewalk and road that is too narrow for two cars to drive through comfortably. What kind of thinking is this? Or can we chalk it up to a “lack of thinking”?
Thank you once again and pray that someone starts to realize that this is WRONG.
Carole Rickman: As the song goes, pave paradise and put up a parking lot. I vote for the tree to stay and the city work around it.
Julie Smelser: Can we start a petition against cutting all these trees down? Is there anything I can do to win the cause, like go downtown and walk around with picket signs?
Melody Burns: Thank you so much for your column about saving the trees on the Downtown Mall. Please add the one in front of the Mastery In Life Center (now the Center for Spiritual Living), to your list.
We have also been told that when they put in the traffic circle at the north end of the Downtown Mall, they are going to chop down the City Christmas Tree. I have talked with the engineers in charge of the project and they gave me all sorts of reasons why they have to do it (visibility, liability, etc.), but I think that there is much more to the story.
I have been meaning to talk to Kevin Bixby to see what the Southwest Environmental center might be able to do to help save these trees, but haven't done it yet. Have you had any conversation with them?
As you probably know, Bob (Burns) and I are already over-committed but if there is something we can do to help this cause, we want to do it. Please let us know.
Thanks again for all you do and for raising the consciousness in Las Cruces!
Ed Breeding: I couldn't agree with you more about the trees needing to live on the Downtown Mall.
It always amazes me how unfeelingly man can be about cutting down a tree, when all it has done is give life and beauty to us for so many years.
Thank you for the great story about saving the trees!
Margaret Lindsley: I think that I shall never see a painting lovely as a TREE. Especially a shade-producing, life-sustaining TREE in a Las Cruces summer.
Al McBrayer: Thank you for your thought-provoking article concerning the trees on the Downtown Mall. I, too, worried that these beautiful trees would fall under the ax as soon as they started to work on the road. I hope something can be done to curve the road around them, like you mentioned in the article. A curving road would be more pleasing to the eye and slow traffic as well. In the town I came from, there was a Heritage Tree ordinance. Trees of a certain diameter must be preserved or must pass a community vote before they can be removed. Unless a Heritage tree was diseased or damaged, it must be saved. Perhaps, the trees can even be relocated in order to save them. Here in Las Cruces, where trees are few, a large shade tree on the mall becomes even more precious. Please add my name to the list of citizens who wish to save these trees.
Pam Smith: Yes we do need to save this special tree, but also all the other trees, bushes and planters on the Downtown Mall. They provide oxygen, shade, beauty, bird habitat, and valuable balance to an otherwise barren and arid concrete jungle! Thanks.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

Have we saved that tree?

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — When it comes to saving the existing trees on the Las Cruces Downtown Mall, there’s good news and bad news.
For those who hoped to save that spectacular Chinese Pistache on the mall’s south end, the initial news was not good. It’s one of 11 trees on the city’s Downtown Mall hit list of trees that are too big or otherwise not good candidates for a move ... and officials said moving the tree would require an estimated $10,000 and bringing in out-of-state equipment.
But this week, Mayor Ken Miyagishima said he’s amenable to making changes in the downtown revitalization plan to save the tree and assistant city manager Robert Garza said Tuesday that city officials are looking into ways to do so.
The further good news is that about eight of our leafy buddies, from Italian Stone pines to another Chinese Pistache, are on the “save” list, destined for new homes in city parks, including nearby Klein and Pioneer Women’s parks, according to the city’s landscape architect, Cathy Mathews.
In response to a Jan. 10 Las Cruces Style column about tree removal during Downtown Mall renovations, many readers wrote, called and e-mailed offering to petition, protest or even picket to save their favorite trees. Others suggested that the Downtown Mall plan be redesigned to accommodate the trees.
“I hope something can be done to curve the road around them. In the town I came from, there was a Heritage Tree ordinance. Trees of a certain diameter must be preserved or must pass a community vote before they can be removed. Unless a heritage tree was diseased or damaged, it must be saved,” said Al McBrayer of Las Cruces.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t run it by the city council,” Mayor Miyagishima said of a possible heritage tree preservation ordinance.
“We’d certainly want a good, compelling reason (to destroy thriving trees). We certainly don’t want to just knock them down. We’d like to keep them and relocate them whenever possible,” Miyagishima said.
And he thinks a downtown plan modification could not only save the tree, but might also create a tourist attraction.
“I think it would be kind of nice to have the street curve around the tree. Maybe it would be like that street in San Francisco and people would come to see our street with the big tree right in the middle,” Miyagishima said, referring to San Francisco’s Lombard Street, known as “the crookedest street in the world.”
Garza said “mechanics have now been set in motion” for a redesign that could save the tree when the final phase of revitalization begins on the south end of the mall which could be as early as March of 2011.
He called the Chinese Pistache near The Music Box “a cornerstone that’s fortunately strategically planted right in the middle, which enables us to design a solution around the tree. We’re looking at options.”
Many people “see the same value and appreciate that tree. It’s a perfect tree and it’s a happy tree and has been there a long time and should be there as long as possible,” Garza said.
Since downtown revitalization began, people have been concerned about saving existing vegetation, including many trees whose roots go back several decades.
“We’ve sometimes called them the Bicentennial trees because those plantings were put in about that time, in 1976. There are some very nice trees. It’s unfortunate that we’ll have to lose some of them,” said Les Finley, the city’s horticulturist.
The outlook is not good for Flo Hosa Dougherty’s favorite tree, growing in front of a gallery complex that includes her Blue Gate Gallery on the north end block of the Downtown Mall, the next phase scheduled for revitalization and tree removals.
“This particular tree has a rich life now. People meet there, vendors seek its shade, folks munch their lunch, kids play around it and some people find it a good place to go through their recent purchase of books and start reading right there. It’s a mature beauty,” Dougherty said.
If the tree cannot be saved, she hopes it can be cut in such a way that the wood can be given to “wood artisans, carvers, turners and whittlers to transform into furniture, gates, bowls, baskets” and other works of art, which she hopes to exhibit when her section of the mall is finished.
Dougherty’s favorite tree is scheduled to fall when construction begins on the north end of the mall. The city is looking through final bids and if the council passes a final resolution to accept bid in late February, as anticipated, we’ll bid adieu to that tree in March.
But the outlook is much more promising for the Chinese Pistache on the other end of the mall.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Enchanting adventures are close to our own back yards

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
ORGAN. — The wonders of the Land of Enchantment never cease to amaze me.
Even with roots that stretch back several decades in New Mexico and after journeying thousands of miles to do travel features for newspapers and magazines, I’m still surprised at the new and old treasures to be discovered.
Sometimes, in my own backyard — almost literally.
I was reminded of that when I went to interview Bud and Nancy Abernathy for today’s feature on their efforts to restore old buildings and open a museum in the little mountain foothills community of Organ.
It was one of those great winter days when the sun was bright and the mercury was climbing toward 60 between cold snaps. I decided to make an afternoon of it.
Where else but in New Mexico?
Within a 10-minute drive from downtown Las Cruces to Organ, I can walk through the history of the space program at the Space Murals Museum, chow down on stir-fried Thai veggies with hot or super hot sauce, pick up some freeze-dried astronaut ice cream for dessert and climb a mountain, if I’m in the mood.
I’m usually not, but it’s good to know the mountains are there, and that I live near a teeny village that has such intriguing treats at my beck and call.
And it was a reminder that I should follow the siren call of the undiscovered more often, even if it appears ever-so-humble and no place worth investigating, when I’m only a few minutes from home.
I remember wandering through Organ briefly, on the way back from Ruidoso one day, not long after I moved to Las Cruces. I still remember picking up some finds in a cute little shop and vaguely recall seeing a kind of diner or bar which looked interesting, and in recent years, meaning to investigate reports of an exotic café that friends raved about.
And yes, indeed, Thai Delights has some of the best, crunchy-fresh, subtly savory veggie stir fry I’ve experienced, and I spent two decades living in the Pacific Coast center of some great examples of the genre, so my standards are high. I also loved the response when I asked for an explanation of spicy menus options that ranged from mild and medium to “hot” and “Thai hot.” The waitress eloquently calibrated the heat with references to specific varieties of red and green chiles familiar to all Mesilla Valley chile aficionados.
The cozy little café was festooned with a mural by Mesilla artist Preciliana Sandoval and offered a showcase stocked with Wanda Robert's home-baked all-American cheesecakes, pineapple upside down cake and blueberry streusel cream pie.
And all this eclectic exotica is nested in the same old adobe building that was once the Organ Mercantile Company and now also houses a new museum and gift shop.
Zipping by on Highway 70 en route to other places, I had no idea I’d been passing an intriguing little enclave of old adobes dating back to the 1800s ... and a committed couple who have dedicated a big part of their lives for several decades to preserving a unique history now being shared in their new museum.
I was fortunate to get a behind-the-scenes tour that included tales of legendary lawmen and miners and glimpses of secret courtyards and old-growth cactus stands, peacocks and stables, schoolyards and cemeteries and even a treehouse.
But I would have settled for the museum and café, more than enough to justify a little drive or merit a stop with visiting friends and relatives, the ones you trust and feel would appreciate the joys of our querencia. But be careful and selective.
Once the wonders — big and small — of our territory are revealed, I’ve found, an alarming number of people decide to move here.
If they aren’t our soul mates, just grumble about those old run-down Organ adobes, direct their attention to the mountains, promise them a casino night in Ruidoso or Sunland Park, depending on which way you’re headed, and keep on driving.
* * *
Save that tree: Thanks to all of you who wrote, called and e-mailed about saving that beautiful Chinese Pistache on the Downtown Mall. Many of you wanted to find ways to save all the trees in downtown areas scheduled for renovations. Read your comments and, we hope, some responses from those in charge of renovations, in the Jan. 24 Las Cruces Style column.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at, (575) 541-5450

Organ caretakers maintain links to the past

If you go
What: Organ Mercantile Museum
When: Open 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., 4 - 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 - 7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: 16140 Old Organ Main Street, next to Thai Delight, off East Highway 70, Organ, N.M.
Info: e-mail or call (575) 382-5614
By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
ORGAN, N.M.— For nearly four decades, Nancy and Bud Abernathy have been quietly working to restore the historic little village at the foot of San Augustin Pass, just a few minutes east of Las Cruces.
In 1973, they bought a compound that included buildings dating to the 1800s. As their restoration efforts continued, they unearthed documents and artifacts and dreamed of housing their finds in a small museum and documenting Organ’s colorful past.
Now, despite economic tough times and health issues, their dreams are being realized. The L.B. Bentley General Merchandise property was officially entered in the National Register of Historic Places on March 22, 2006, in a compound that includes their home, and the couple have just opened a small museum across the street in a building that includes Thai Delight restaurant.
“Organ was once a bustling mining town, bigger than Las Cruces, and some say it had the second largest population in the state of New Mexico. These buildings have been mercantiles, a post office, an assay office, saloons, stage and hack stops, and a telephone company,” Nancy Abernathy said, leading a tour of a museum and gift shop that has a large collection of old mercantile and general store furnishings, an antique cash register, vintage garments and mining equipment and lots of photographs.
“On July 1, 1903, Louis B. Bentley and his wife Harriet rode horseback following the wagons carrying their belongings and reached Organ in a driving rain to set up the mercantile. Mr. Bentley was a photographer who left us with great documentation. We’d given most of the photos to the Rio Grande Archive at NMSU, so we got some prints for the opening of the museum,” she said.
She is convinced the site that now houses the museum was one of the final stops on the last day in the life of Pat Garrett, the sheriff famous for shooting Billy the Kid.
“In 2005, we purchased the building which now holds the museum. In the process of remodeling, we sandblasted and found the name Organ Mercantile painted over the door. This discovery would clear up the destination of Pat Garrett and Jesse Wayne Brazel on one fateful day. Mrs. Bentley told the story of the two men getting into an argument and Mr. Bentley kicking them out. They went across to the ‘other mercantile’ (now the museum site) and we had never known where it was. That was the same day that Pat Garrett was bushwhacked on his way to Las Cruces. Amazingly, Brazel confessed to the murder, was tried but never found guilty,” she said.
In a short chronology, she has traced Organ’s history back to 1849, when the area previously known as Camp San Augustin began to be called Camp Organ, and into its heyday as a “wild and woolly” mining boomtown.
“In 1875, the Kansas City Star wrote that Camp Organ was one of the five roughest places to live in the United States,” she reports.
By 1907, the Bentley Mercantile was reportedly grossing $50,000 annually and the Bentleys stayed on “through the boom and bust of Organ” as mines declined and closed after World War I. Eventually, the arrival of White Sands Missile Range workers perked things up.
Bentley died in 1955 and his wife “stayed until 1963 when she sold the property to Bob and Bonny Smith. Bud and I bought the Bentley Mercantile compound in 1973,” she said.
In 2005, the Abernathys purchased the building that houses the new museum and café, at a site that welcomed visitors of yesteryear as Ace's Bar, Ace's Place, Charlie’s Place and the Triangle.
“It was the best watering hole in the area for many, many years. You could get a quick beer after work and some memorable socializing,” she said.
The Abernathys are pleased to be “custodians of an almost-lost history that few Las Cruces residents know about,” but Bud admits he’s not thrilled about the urban sprawl that brought suburbia to the foothills and now is nipping at the ankles and shins of the Organ Mountains.
“Some days, I’d just like to finish the restoration, put a geodesic dome over (Organ) and stop the development,” he quipped.
The couple themselves are hard-pressed to count exactly how many buildings are in the compound of properties they own, which in addition to their home and the old mercantile housing the café and museum, includes some rental houses, a barn and a popular fenced vacation rental which attracts fans from throughout the U.S. There are also a couple of mobile homes and surprises, like a treehouse. They share the premises with resident critters, Cowgirl the dog, cats Alberta and Felix, horses Happy the Appy and Mustang Sally, parrot Mr. Bill, three unnamed peacocks and wild visitors that include roadrunners and the occasional mountain lion.
Nancy has worked with historians Marty Davenport and the late Herman Weisner to assemble a brief history of Organ, and she’s working on a map of sites of interest, including private areas like their home compound, the old Organ school house which another resident has restored, and ranches, ruins of an old Catholic church and the Torpedo, Modoc and Memphis mine areas.
“The Bentley Mercantile is also on the New Mexico State Historic Registry and Mr. Bentley is listed as a person of historical interest for the state of New Mexico. I’d love to get an NMSU graduate student to help us work on assembling a history and if anyone out there has items, information or articles relating to Organ’s past, please let us know,” she said.
E-mail or call (575) 382-5614 .
The Organ Mercantile Museum is located at 16140 Old Organ Main Street, next to Thai Delight, off East Highway 70, in Organ. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at, (575) 541-5450

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Clutter chaos starts the year

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — This holiday season, I was finally going to clean out all my closets and cupboards and that pile of stuff in the garage and donate everything I haven’t worn, sat or slept on, decorated or cooked or created within the last year to someone who could make better use of it all.
Those were my good intentions, my early New Year’s resolutions.
That was before I gave at the office.
They chose this joyous season to renovate the Sun-News, so we were asked to clear our decks (and desks), as we were moved around to various exotic locales, including what used to be our advertising department.
Having unearthed several artifacts, I’ve had occasion to remember my first day here, back in 1994, when, as usual, I arrived early. I asked for a suggestion about where to perch from then-colleague Pam Angell, another earlybird, and she pointed to the desk that for the past 16 years has been my home-away-from-home. In fact, I’ve spent more waking hours there than at any one location in any of the homes I’ve occupied since.
I came from opulent Palm Beach, Fla., where one of my offices was nearly the size of the entire newsroom area I’ve shared with 17 to 30-plus people over the years.
It was a major feat to even contemplate the dismantling of the complex of subterranean and above-ground storage devised over the last decades at my work station, to say nothing of the Lego-like engineering involved in my wall of art. Finally, I gave up, packed what I could in boxes and took the more fragile pieces home.
There, I struggled to find storage space amid the Christmas chaos. In desperation, I assigned everybody on my gift list a canvas tote or two, scrounged to find yet more packing boxes and shipped off all the out-of-town stuff early.
Usually, I wrap each gift individually with a witty little personal comment or instructions. This time, I didn’t. I should have.
The confused e-mails began trickling in.
“Re: The hoodie, mask and cardinal; I confess I may have to call for further instructions. I see great potential in this outfit, but need further enlightenment,” Dr. Roger e-mailed.
I panicked.
There were three hoodies in that shipment of packages, but none of them were supposed to go to Roger. Would this be a repeat of the holiday in which a brand new shipping clerk sent packages destined for Iowa, Florida and California, all to my son in Portland, Ore.?
I frantically sent out descriptions of all the Christmas hoodies and found that all were present and accounted for.
Roger had been confused by a travel set that included a combination pillow and blanket and a sleep mask, all designed to help insomniacs catch a few winks on a jet. The cardinal was a clip-on, feathered bird I thought would make a festive addition to his hat or tie.
Most of the gift confusion has been resolved. Now, I must get all my office boxes out of storage and figure out how to fit it all artistically into the old space, without marring or clashing with the freshly painted walls, new carpet and ceiling tiles.
Meanwhile, at home on the high desert range, I should be packing away the holiday decoration and making order out of chaos.
But maybe I’ll wait awhile. As I said, I gave at the office.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Downtown renovators, spare that tree

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Renovators, spare that tree.
It may be the most beautiful tree in Las Cruces, and I think we should do everything we can to save it, when downtown renovation moves to the south end of the Downtown Mall.
That beautiful tree and some of its beautiful amigos are scheduled to be chopped down for downtown improvements. Let’s rethink that.
The tree I have in mind is on the south end of the mall, near White’s Music Box. Its picture, in full, leafy glory during this past summer, is on this page today.
I want to stress that I’m a fan of most of what’s transpired so far to spruce up our downtown.
I was a little leery, as were my friends at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market, when they moved the market for the next phase of renovations. But the truth is, the market seems to be a roaring success in its new location.
I love the renovated block of the Downtown Mall between Las Cruces Avenue and Griggs Street and think it’s become a fine home for events like the new Salsa Festival and the relocated market.
And I have high hopes for what has always been my favorite Downtown Mall block, whose attractions include two theaters, the Black Box and the Las Cruces Community Theatre, now in the midst of a renovation and spruce up fund-rising campaign, Coas My Bookstore, the Branigan Cultural Center and the Las Cruces Art Museum, as well as a burgeoning number of galleries.
Flo Hosa Dougherty, the owner of one of those galleries, Blue Gate, has been in mourning for another lovely tree, near her famous blue gate, that has been marked for the ax.
She’s resigned to the loss of the tree and has recruited fellow artists to claim the wood and make some beautiful art which she plans to exhibit.
It’s a nice gesture, but I want more — including a long life — for its surviving arboreal sibling and if it means that planners have to build a curve in the road to go around it or even eliminate sidewalks on that patch, I say, “Why not?’
The Downtown Mall, even once its roads are all restored and reopened to traffic, was never intended to become a speedway. A gentle curve or two will help keep drivers alert to what has become unfamiliar territory in the decades the area has been closed to motorists.
And besides, curves are artistic, aesthetically pleasing and good feng shui.
It would be a graceful, natural and green gesture to change our plans a little to accommodate a beautiful bit of nature, especially as our dream of downtown as a cultural corridor moves closer to full-tilt realization.
The First Friday Ramble has come of age with a burgeoning roster of museum and gallery venues opening for an evening art walk the first Friday of each month. The Saturday and Wednesday markets are looking good, the new Salsa Fiesta was a triumph and Winterfest was lovely, despite actual wintery weather.
We’ve weathered some changes, as the last of the old yellow brick road drifts into the Western sunset, the arches came down, and we rediscover some old adobe gems and greet a skyline transformed by a brand new Las Cruces City Hall and the inventive textures of the Mayan-esque federal courthouse.
But we’ve lost some treasures in the name of progress over the years. I still meet viejos y viejas who can’t hold back the tears when they talk about the old St. Genevieve Church that once graced Las Cruces’ downtown area.
It’s too late to bring back that spiritual icon.
But with some redesign, I’ll bet we could save that beautiful tree.
And if we don’t try, I’ll bet we’ll regret it.
Take a look at its picture or go visit my buddy, which is lovely even without its leaves, and let me know what you think.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.