Thursday, November 11, 2010

Las Cruces art scene is hopping

New galleries join art scene
By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — If you’re new to Las Cruces, you might think that Full-tilt Fiesta Season is drawing to a close. But stay tuned for a fun-filled December—and a burgeoning year-round art scene.
It’s true we’ve had an action-packed fall, from the traditional favorites like the Deming Duck Races and Labor Day fiestas to The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, Dia de los Muertos, Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Día de los Muertos, the Renaissance ArtsFaire and newcomers like the new Plein Aire Festival and the SalsaFest, now in its second year.
And if we had to call it, I’d say that this is the year artshops really came of age.
When I arrived in 1994, the annual Doña Ana Arts Council ArtsHop was just starting, and it was pretty much the only game in the territory. Now it’s spun off into a festival (DAAC’s Color Las Cruces Plein Aire Competition and Community Arts Festival) and the Downtown Ramble, the first Friday of each month. And now we have this year’s newcomer: Camino del Arte Tour, a second Saturday of each month tour of as many as 10 galleries and studios (many of them brand new in 2010) and 10 restaurants in the historic Mesquite Street District.
In addition, there are annual For the Love of Art Month studio tour weekends, and artists Georjeanna Feltha and Ouida Touchon have coordinated two more annual downtown artists’ studio tours in the spring and fall which attract a growing number of artists, studios and art fans.
Any artist who complains there’s no place to show work here just hasn’t been paying attention.
Despite tough economic times, our roster of galleries continues to grow, especially when it comes to artists’ co-ops.
Mesilla, which once had just one plaza-area artists’ cooperative gallery, Mesilla Valley Fine Arts, now boasts three co-ops, with the addition of Los Artesanos Galeria and Art Galaxy.
The Border Book Festival Foundation and its headquarters, which has always nurtured artists and craftspeople, as well as authors, has branched out to add Galeria Tepin.
There will soon be two new additions to the Mercado de Mesilla complex, home of the Preston Contemporary Art Center, which has attracted national attention and offered a venue for top international, national and regional artists during its brief history.
The late Ben Boldt envisioned the Mercado (itself an artistic achievement, thanks to the design of sculptor Kelley Hestir) as a little art mecca, maybe with some “mom and pop” artists living in or above galleries in the complex.
Reinforcing that vision will be and Mitch Alamag’s ROKOKO Kosmic Soul Kaboom Studio & Gallery, slated to open by spring.
And Carolyn and Henry Bunch will soon open a gallery (their fourth in the Mesilla Valley) at the Mercado.
“We tossed a lot of names around and finally returned the one we used before: The Adobe Patio Gallery and Studio,” said Carolyn.
They hope to open in late November or early December.
The Mott family are also back. Many of us remember their PK studios on Alameda. Now artist Kate, daughter Padma, and Kate’s potter husband Russell have opened MVS Studios near the Branigan Cultural Center.
M. Phillips Gallery and Justus Wright Galeria have moved from their original sites to reopen in bigger and more interesting downtown locations.
Many area shops and restaurants, some inspired by participation in February for the Love of Art Month exhibits, have become art venues themselves, rotating year-round exhibitions.
And brand new galleries seem to be opening all the time. David Jacquez just opened Jardín de las Cruces, 4010 N. Valley Drive, with a group show Nov. 6.
Watch for more soon. Arts are hopping in Las Cruces.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450


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