Thursday, September 30, 2010

Las Cruces Style keeps evolving

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Las Cruces style keeps evolving and just when I think I have a pretty good handle on our distinctive brand of panache, I have a couple of months that convince me that we just might be the global epicenter of innovation.
Some of the changes involve new twists on old favorites.
As I learned doing a Sept. 25 Mi Casa story on the Reynolds-Chávez-Fountain house, sometimes stylish souls born elsewhere, like Midwestern transplants Lori Miller and Len Gambrell, can have profound insights about enhancing — and dedication to preserving — Borderland style. Their renovations to the beloved 1860s, two-story adobe Territorial home and grounds is remarkable. Like settlers in the time of the home’s birth, they’ve gracefully merged their own heritage with vintage Mesilla style.
(And by the way, you city officials who balk at the challenges of preserving a single iconic Downtown Mall Chinese pistache tree, the couple have managed to transplant and preserve an entire small orchard of fruit and nut trees while renovating their pretty little acre.)
Sometimes, it’s a native son who travels the world and brings back some fresh ideas to contribute to the evolution of Las Cruces style. Check out today’s Artist of the Week profile of Michael Poncé. He grew up here and went off to live and study in San Francisco, New York and London, with exotic stopovers that have ranged from Kentucky to India, Australia and Hong Kong. I was amazed to see how gracefully he’s blended Pan-Cultural and Borderland influences in his art and downtown Las Cruces home. I can’t to see what he’s done in his new gallery, Michael Poncé Contemporary at 508 N. Mesquite St. Check it out from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday during the second monthly Camino del Arte tour of Mesquite historic district galleries and restaurants.
And speaking of stylish innovations, if you missed the first Camino tour, you’ll have more chances the second Saturday of each month at these locations: Gabriella Denton Studio, 403-B E. Court Ave., Unsettled Gallery & Studio, 905 N. Mesquite St., Mesquite Street Studios, 922 N. Mesquite St. Studios, Mesquite Art Gallery, 340 N. Mesquite St., Studio 308, No. 1, 308 N. Mesquite St., Nopalito’s Galeria, 326 S. Mesquite St., Joyce T. Macrorie Studio, 639 San Pedro St., New Dimension Artworks, 615-B E. Piñon Ave., Tony Pennock Studio, 721 N. Mesquite St. and Michael Poncé Contemporary, 508 N. Mesquite St.; plus 10 restaurants: Nopalito, La Nueva Casita, La Guadalupana, El Tiburon Mariscos, Kiva Patio Café, Tacos Santa Fe, Roberto’s, El Sombrero Patio Café, Church’s Chicken and Lujan Bakery.
I really enjoyed the first round, complete with a horse-drawn carriages, cosmopolitan artists and a transforming street that reminded me a lot of Albuquerque’s Old Town, with lots of people in the ‘hood for Camino, plus an event at Klein Park, and the first Color Las Cruces Plein Air Festival Community Art Festival.
I also ran into Las Cruces stylin’ trendsetter Bob Diven, making his own rogue plein air statement with a dinosaur chalk drawing on a Main Street sidewalk.
Now he says he’ll do some chalk art every Saturday morning during the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market. See some samples of his street creatures at
And speaking of the market, LCF&CM ranked No. 1 in New Mexico and No. 9 in the nation for markets with more than 56 vendors in a nationwide poll, despite an unpopular move in a time when the most popular part of the Downtown Mall is thoroughly torn up for renovations. And the market is looking better than ever, which is kind of an impressive Ginger Rogers achievement. (Wags have noted that she did everything just as well as Fred Astaire did, and she managed to do it backward, in heels!)
No wonder Pendleton is naming blankets after us and furniture and home accessory makers are coming out with Las Cruces lines.
Ah, Las Cruces style.
We always had it. Always will.
And we keep getting better all the time.

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We want to save our tree!

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — We aren’t ready to say die when it comes to our favorite tree, that venerable old Chinese pistache on the Downtown Mall that city officials first seemed inclined to save and now say will likely be cut down in the next phase of downtown construction, as noted in my Sept. 12 Las Cruces Style column.
Many of you are fighting mad about their change of tune — and it’s clear that you have not had a change of heart — when it comes to sparing that special tree.
Once again, you wrote, e-mailed, called and stopped me on the Downtown Mall by the tree, a popular, shady place to congregate on hot market days.
Tamie Smith has even created a commemorative website with photos of all the trees that have been cut down on the Downtown Mall.
Listen up, powers that be: We want to save that tree and make arboreal rescues a top priority, now and in the future.
Here’s a sampling of what you had to say. For more, or to post your own comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.
Jean Bartels (a resident of Las Cruces for 44 years): “It’s unbelievable that the city, which already demolished trees on the yellow brick road for the current project, is thinking of doing the same with the tree at the south end. Thank goodness for the artists who are creating things of beauty out of the wood that was saved.
“I was going into the library the day the big gorgeous city Christmas tree was being cut down and, although I’d read in the paper that it was to happen, I could hardly believe my eyes and stood aghast. Only God can make a tree, but L.C. can certainly destroy. Put in a vote for me that the tree at the south end be left standing where it is!”
Jim Hayhoe: “I cannot agree with you more that we should do the engineering necessary to save the Main Street pistache tree. A tree such as this is worth several parking spots, especially in a Downtown area that IS YET to demonstrate the ability to attract patrons. If the city has any serious intention of thinking GREEN this is a way to show it to the area residents.”
Esther Matthews: “I disagree with Robert Ebler’s (the city’s senior civil engineer) statements regarding the Chinese pistache tree downtown. The 20 parking spaces may be business friendly, but not necessary. Customers prefer green shade and natural beauty. There is ample parking behind the buildings. When are ALL the spaces full? (Ebler said) It would cost $30,000 to $40,000 to design around it. That seems like nothing in the whole scheme of things. What percentage of that is compared to the whole cost, minus the cost of moving it?
“New trees won’t demand the same respect of this old, beautiful tree. It is also disheartening that government will sacrifice this tree against the wishes of its citizens, in the hope of more revenue.”
Mary Salais: “I am writing because I am concerned about the pistache tree at the south side of the Downtown Mall. It is near the Music Box. I want it to stay alive and not to be chopped down. It reminds me of a favorite childhood tree near the tennis courts on Picacho street that they chopped down and it made me very upset and sad not to see it there. I enjoyed the shade under the tree. It’s gone now and it’s been three years ago. I don’t want this to happen again. The tree is useful since we have very hot sunshine here.”
Jack Pumphrey: “For the life of me I can't understand the reasoning behind the decision to destroy one of the finest outdoor malls in the Southwest.
“The Farmers Market wasn't the only group to benefit from the absence of traffic and abundant shade. Visitors to Branigan Cultural Center, Coas, Big Picture, ABC Printing, Insta-Copy and so on, had a pleasant place to take a noon-day stroll, relax and meet friends, have a solo sack lunch and enjoy the shade of those (now) destroyed trees, planters and awnings.
“Now the powers that be are constructing a three-to-four-block long, two-way street with no parking with no possibility of shade in our lifetime. Why? If you can't stop the car and get out to shop, visit the galleries, dine in the new bistros or, have an espresso … Why?, Why?, WHY?
“And another thing, mark my words, the ‘up-town’ chic, roundabout will cause the city more grief than benefit. It’s going to be confusing enough just trying to figure out a good (any?) reason to drive up or down that obscure part of Main Street.
“I can see it now. Another car gets rear-ended from someone gawking at the new sidewalk restaurant and refurbished buildings. Or, running into one of those patina-green carriage poles while dodging jaywalkers! (Theater goers beware!)
“The best use, so far, is when the street is blocked off for special interest dinner parties and the Farmers Market. Huh? Isn't that what was destroyed? The use of a nice traffic-free open space?
“Now the paranoiacs/urban planners want to kill the last remaining elder-tree because it's too tough to figure out a positive solution? The tree is now a traffic hazard? Build the ‘road’ around it for the sense of what’s common and sane. Build a curving divided pretty lane around the tree. Construct pointy planters that face oncoming traffic and make it wide enough so emergency vehicles can make it through. It’s not as if there are going to be speed bumps to show down what sparse traffic that probably will be too light to justify stop lights. And finally: IT (the tree) would take away parking spaces? What parking places!
“Leaving the tree where it is will create a reason for driving the three or four blocks to accomplish … what?”
Tamie Smith: “Thanks for the tree article. Sad, isn’t it, that citizens can't trust the words of our elected and hired officials?
“At a couple of city council meetings before a date had been set for cutting down the large trees, I asked if I could be notified when that would be done. I was assured by the city manager and my councilor that someone would let me know. Right! (They didn’t notify me.)”
NOTE: To see Tamie’s website with “a few assorted pictures of the trees we used to have,” go to
I checked out the site and had trouble understanding how curving around the tree would eliminate 20 parking places. But if so, so what? I have yet to see anything close to 20 cars parked on the “finished” downtown block.
And don’t give up the fight. I’ll send these comments on to Mayor Ken Miyagishima at If you’d like to save the tree, let our mayor and city council know.
Here are some letters that came in after our deadline.
Diana Ayers: “The city might take a closer look at what makes a place desirable. Plantings, natural or exotic, attract folks; hot parking lots do not.
“I was stunned to see that the city had cut down that stately pine which had been Las Cruces's Christmas Tree. What other city would let that go by without challenge? What other city of any reputation has no tree ordinances?
“Of course it would be a little bit harder to route the road around the pistache, but what is the point to making it straight? If this exercise is being done in the name of commerce, the merchants certainly won't benefit by traffic's zooming through.
“There is parking everywhere already, and many existing businesses have rear entrances. Patrons of the museums and galleries aren't going to resent walking around the corner, as presumably they are drawn by esthetics in the first place.
“What the place could use is some sidewalk cafes, such as occur as magnets everywhere else. But diners don't want to stare at parked cars (or moving ones). Some storefront awnings for shade would be nice, too.
“Whom does this project serve, anyhow?”
Carole Rickman: “Save our tree. A message for our City Council and the powers that be: As the song goes — ‘Take Paradise and put in a parking lot’— or in this case, a road.
“It seems such a shame to destroy such a beautiful part of our Downtown in the name of ‘progress.’ Please leave the tree —work around it.
“The birds, critters (and) people will thank you.
“S. Derrickson Moore — I love your columns and hope your rallying cry for our tree will help save it.”

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fun with birthday numbers

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — It’s a big year for significant birthdays in the Land of Enchantment in general and the City of the Crosses in particular.
We’re always up for a party, here in the city of fiesta moods and festive attitudes.
J. Paul Taylor turned 90 about the same time the Branigan Cultural Center turned 75. Initially, the August birthday bashes were scheduled for the same day, but “human-before-institution” honors prevailed, and the Branigan fiesta moved to anther day, Sept. 3.
The celebrations continue.
On Sept. 15, No Strings Theatre Company celebrated its 10th anniversary. As it happens, that’s also Guatemalan Independence Day and the birthdays of my late dad Jack and my early soulmate Dr. Roger. Hmm. I’m sure a good astrologer could enlighten me about the significance of these Sept. 15 events. Maybe I’ll write a play about it all and present it at the Black Box Theatre, No Strings’ home base.
There are some other interesting things involving birthday/anniversary celebrations, like the fact that our state is so much younger than its three biggest cities. New Mexico will celebrate its 100th birthday (the centennial of statehood) in 2012, yet our state’s capital, Santa Fe, is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year.
Albuquerque, if I remember right, had a big 300th birthday bash about four years ago and Las Cruces has a year of sesquicentennial (150th) celebrations in 1998.
Probably on some plain of existence, there are some chuckles about these “founding” dates and epic birthdays from Anasazis and Mimbres and other ancient souls, whose first appearances in shards and fossil remains date back thousands, not mere hundreds, of years.
Back on the home front, coming up soon is another, if much younger, milestone anniversary.
The Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico will celebrate with a 10th Anniversary Gala at 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Las Cruces International Airport. There’ll be dinner, dancing and a live auction and dress is “semi-formal or aviation costume,” so if you’ve ever wanted to dress up as a World War I flying ace, this is your big chance. Tickets and info: (575) 521-4794 or
Coming up is a season of 25th anniversary celebrations for the New Mexico State University Choral Department. In a few months, Court Youth Center, home of Alma d’arte Charter School, will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its rebirth.
Today you can read about the nation’s oldest two-story adobe theater, the Rio Grande, which first entertained Las Crucens in the 1920s. What we’re celebrating this month is the fifth anniversary of its facelift, or restoration. It’s an intriguing fiesta concept, a kind of rebirthday.
I’ve always wondered why the only birthdays deemed worthy of major fiestas always seem to end in “5” or “0,” whether they’re measured in two- or three- or four-digit increments. And we stop there. I can’t remember the 10,000th anniversary celebration of anything, can you? Though I do recall, growing up, monitoring the number of burgers sold on ever-changing signs at McDonald’s. I don’t think they do that anymore, but a website reports that by spring of 2010 the total was about 245 billion served.
Meanwhile, back home on the range, we have some more eco-friendly, organic, downhome numbers to celebrate. Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market fans who might have missed the earlier stories will be pleased to know that in the America's Favorite Farmers Markets Contest, we ranked first in New Mexico overall and No. 9 in the United States for markets with more than 56 vendors.
Chris Faivre of the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau noted that we were also “the only market within New Mexico to rank nationally in any one of the contest categories. In fact, the LCFCM was only one vote shy of an 8th place tie with the Chattanooga Market in Tennessee.”
The contest is sponsored each year by American Farmland Trust (
In 2011, the LCFCM will celebrate its 40th anniversary. If trends continue, our market could be No. 1 in the United States at age 40.
That could be quite a birthday present.
NOTE: City officials, spare the tree that shades our nation’s fabulous No. 9 market! Many of you are fighting mad about plans to cut down what many of us think is the Downtown’s most beautiful tree — and we’d also like to preserve some other old-growth faves. We’ll share your comments in next week’s Las Cruces Style column.

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is there still time to save our tree?

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Bureaucrats, spare that tree!
Remember that big, beautiful Chinese pistache near the Music Box on the Downtown Mall? The one some of us think may be the most beautiful tree in the Mesilla Valley?
Many of us thought it was safe, after a controversy erupted in January and many of you wrote, called and e-mailed offering to petition, protest or even picket to save your favorite trees. Others suggested that the Downtown Mall plan be redesigned to accommodate the tree.
This is what some our city officials had to say then.
“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,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said, referring to San Francisco’s Lombard Street, known as “the crookedest street in the world.”
Assistant city manager Robert Garza called the tree “a cornerstone that’s fortunately strategically planted right in the middle, which enables us to design a solution around the tree” and 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, possibly as early as next March.
Garza won the hearts of tree-lovers when he noted, “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.”
Sounds like our tree dodged a bullet — or a bulldozer — yes?
Well, apparently, no. Maybe you missed some crucial information in the last paragraphs of Amanda Bradford’s Sept. 1 story on the demise of the towering Downtown Mall Afghan pine that has served as the city’s Christmas tree for the past two years. Robert Ebler, the city’s senior civil engineer, said our tree is likely to be among a group (once scheduled to be spared or moved) that will be destroyed, after all.
“We could lose over 20 on-street parking spaces by leaving the tree in place and transitioning the road into tight quarters on the sides. Ultimately, it's best to remove the tree. We are planting over 50 new trees for about the same cost as moving just the one. Also, we feel it is more business-friendly to provide parking and related amenities with the proposed plan,” Garza said in an e-mail.
Eber said costs to move the pistache could be $30,000 to $40,000 and designing around the tree could cost $50,000. He opined that the flow of traffic would be pushed to one side, creating safety hazards and reducing parking and landscaping possibilities for the area.
To which I say, let’s consider the landscaping reality of that tree that’s been green and growing with us for more than three decades, and find a way to let it be and make it work.
If it’s the design money, maybe we can find some volunteers who will help us or give us a discount. I’ve toured eco-friendly developments here where planners have managed to curve roads and sidewalks and readjust mega-buck developments to save old growth mesquite. Surely we can find ways to do the same for the prettiest tree shading the corazon y alma (heart and soul) of our city, a place we want to revitalize to showcase what’s best about Las Cruces.
So what, if it means a little jog in the road, the sacrifice of a few parking spaces, or some artful landscaping to reroute pedestrians? We aren’t looking for a high-speed expressway there, anyway. And won’t it be worth it, especially when the street is closed off for market days and festivals, to see another generation of kids playing under its leafy canopy?
After the Christmas tree came down, I was stopped on a Downtown Mall stroll by Tamie Smith, who’s mad and sad about the tree topplings.
“If (auto) mall traffic is so great, why don’t they put a street down the middle of the Mesilla Valley Mall?” she asked.
She said she’s been ignored by bureaucrats and city officials when she comes up with plans for Downtown revitalization. She shared a few with me: a railway line running through the mall, acting as a tourist attraction and a way of transporting people to attractions in our burgeoning cultural corridor. She pointed to a strip of grass across from the Rio Grande Theatre and suggested we ask the bank if they’d be willing to allow a line of shade trees there, if we could get the city to provide and maintain the trees.
And she wants to save the big, beautiful pistache.
“The new trees aren’t enough. I won’t have another 30 years until they grow. I won’t be alive to see it,” she said.
What do you think? If you feel it’s worth the effort to slightly alter the mall plan to save the tree, or have some other ideas, let us know.
To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style, email or write me c/o Las Cruces Sun-News, 256 W. Las Cruces Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005.
There’s still time to save that tree, a symbol of so many things we love about Las Cruces. Let’s do it.

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fiesta Roundup

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — This is it, party animals.
Last weekend’s old standby, Deming’s Great American Duck Races, and the new chica on the block, MainStreet Salsa Festival, now in its second year, kicked off the 2010-11 Full-Tilt Fiesta Season.
As today’s Labor Day weekend roundup shows, whether the economy has rebounded or not, our fiesta spirit is going strong.
And even the festivals that had called it quits seem to be coming back in some new forms.
The Hillsboro Apple Festival has been reborn as the Hillsboro Harvest Festival, with the same great attractions in a mountain town full of art galleries, antique stores and historic adobe homes. This year, they’ll also feature a new crop of apples.
From now on, we’ll be pretty much going full-tilt through New Year’s. Labor Day weekend attractions include the New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival, Hatch Chile Festival and the Franciscan Festival of the Arts, which evolved into the Doña Arts Council’s Renaissance Arts Faire, the region’s largest cultural event, before returning to its original name and site at Holy Cross.
DAAC has bee the source of other spin-offs, too. Their annual ArtsHop has morphed into the monthly Downtown Ramble and other artists’ neighborhood studio and gallery tours, including the brand new Camino del Arte, which will make it’s debut from 11 to 3 p.m. Sept. 11 in the city historic Mesquite District, along with DAAC’s brand new Color Las Cruces Plein Air Competition and Community Arts Festival Sept. 11 and 12. Fort Selden Frontier Days will be the same weekend, a boon for art and history buffs.
The White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational runs Sept. 17 to 19. Save some energy to celebrate Mexico’s independence at the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Festival Sept. 18 and 19 on the Mesilla, Plaza. Get ready for the city’s street party (and the world largest enchilada) at The Whole Enchilada Festival Sept. 24 through 26.
Livestock shows, a cowboy rodeo, a midway, food, music and fun, plus a showcase of our best animals, produce, arts and crafts and more, highlight the Southern New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.
It will be a very jazzy FTFS. The Mesilla Jazz Happening will be Oct. 2 and 3, with wine gardens at both locations. at the Mercado Plaza and the Mesilla Plaza. If you’re up for a third venue, check out the La Viña Wine Festival, also Oct. 2 and 3.
And here’s more: “Jam Session in Las Cruces,” two months of events focusing on the art and culture of jazz, will feature multi-media exhibits, concerts, films, gallery talks, and educational outreach events at several locations from December 10 to Feb. 3 For more info: visit the "Jam Session in Las Cruces" website at: That’ll ease us into 2011 February For the Love of Art Month celebrations of visual, performance and literary arts.
Meanwhile, back in 2010, autumn fun continues with Dias de los Muertos celebrations around Las Cruces and from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 on Mesilla’s Plaza.
Deadheads and RenFaire fans will be able to spread out the fun this year, since two of our most popular celebrations won’t fall on the same weekend. DAAC’s Renaissance ArtsFaire will be Nov. 6 and 7 at Young Park.
The Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference Nov. 11 through 14, includes concerts, a Mariachi Mass and the Parque Festival.
December is packed with festive and spiritual celebrations, pageants and festivals, some with historic roots that stretch back centuries. The Tortugas Pueblo invites the community for events that include a pilgrimage up A Mountain, dancing ceremonies and a traditional albondigas feast during their Virgen de Guadalupe Festival, always held Dec. 10, 11 and 12. There are traditional luminaria displays at NMSU and Doña Ana Plaza, and the Christmas Eve lumniarias and carols on Mesilla’s Plaza.
There are holiday concerts, church and school events and pageants, bazaars and bake sales, holiday Downtown Rambles and lots more.
There are many more special events, too, from area autumn mazes to gallery and museum openings, special shows, theater openings, Las Cruces Symphony and NMSU Choral Department premieres and concerts, the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet’s annual presentation of the beloved holiday classic “The Nutcracker” and the La Casa Bazaar Dec. 3, 4 and 5, one of the first events at our brand new Las Cruces Convention Center. Pace yourself, ease into fiesta mode and we’ll do our best to keep you posted.
¡Viva Full-Tilt Fiesta Season!

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

Tour Las Cruces' HIstoric Mesquite District

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Sometimes an artquake can sneak up on you, virtually in your own backyard.
Ten studios and galleries will participate in Saturday’s first Camino del Arte tour, which participants hope will become a popular trek from 11 to 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month.
It’s also a chance to see the wonderful old adobe buildings in what was once part of the legendary El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, one of the longest, oldest trails in the Americas, where indigenous peoples blazed footpaths that would become the route used by Spaniards and later settlers.
In 1849, Pablo Melendrez got some rawhide rope and patiently laid out a grid for the original Las Cruces townsite. Not too long ago, I was discussing Pablo and his colorful era with Carlos Melendrez, who’s among the descendents of those original founding families who still live in — or have returned to — the historic neighborhood.
When I decided to visit all the Camino del Arte gallery owners, I realized I already knew most of the people and/or sites on the tour.
I think my first Mesquite Street contact, almost two decades ago, was probably Tony Pennock, creator of our dramatic water tank murals, whose studio is on the tour.
Several years ago, I walked through a crumbling adobe with artist Sina Brush, someone I knew in Santa Fe and re-met here, when she was working to restore what would become Catherine and Don Brenner’s beautiful Unsettled Gallery.
Sina had a vision. She thought Mesquite Street could become an artistic mecca. We both love Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, and Sina clearly held that thought when she was researching the best ways to restore her property. She saw it as her own possible home and studio someday.
The Brenners shared her vision and as Catherine told me last week, they “bonded with the old adobe.”
The same attraction has enticed artists from around the U.S. and around the world, including Diana Ayres and her Australian-born husband Dean, who settled in across the street at what is now Mesquite Street Studios.
In recent years, studios were opened by multimedia artist Joyce T. Macrorie, who restored a cozy old adobe on San Pedro, and sculptor John Northcutt, who established New Dimension Artworks on Pinon Street.
One of the area’s newest galleries is the fulfillment of a long-held dream of a family with deep roots is the Mesilla Valley. Tina Gallegos’ dream came true with the opening of Nopalito Galeria.
“My mom has wanted to start a gallery in this house for a long as I can remember,” said David Gallegos, leading a tour of art-filled nooks and nichos next door to the family’s popular Nopalito Restaurant.
Nearby is the light-filled, contemporary Southwestern home and studio of Gabriella Denton, a Santa Fe transplant whose work I’ve admired for years in City Different shops and galleries.
Recently, she put me in touch with the only three Mesquite tour artists I hadn’t met.
Belgian Yanick D’hooge was still unpacking and arranging some lovely fin de siecle (that’s the fin of the 19th, not 20th century) wrought iron pieces she’s restoring while transforming another old adobe into a stylish, Europe-meets-Nuevo Mexico home and studio. She’s a talented photographer and videographer. She shared her intriguing Andy Warholian documentary on the many moods of our Organ Mountains. I also enjoyed a nice tête-à-tête with her chic and trés amical Weimaraner, who understood my high school French, or graciously pretended to, and bid me a fond adieu as I left Studio 308 and headed for Mesquite Art Gallery.
There, I met Mel Stone, another recent transplant who is enjoying a new career as a fine art photographer and gallery owner after nearly three decades as a “one-man band,” writing, shooting and editing TV features for Fargo’s NBC affiliate.
I felt like I’d come full circle on my surprisingly cosmopolitan backyard tour, when I met Las Cruces native Michael Poncé, who’s back after worldwide travels and impressive artistic accomplishments in San Francisco, New York, Mexico and Great Britain. He’ll borrow a site at 130 N. Mesquite St. for Saturday’s tour before opening his own gallery at 508 N. Mesquite St.
Take some time to investigate Camino del Arte. I bet you’ll be surprised, too, by the artistic treasures evolving in our own backyard.

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