Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home for the Fourth of July

LAS CRUCES — A recent Saturday amble around the Downtown Mall (or historic Main Street Downtown, as we are supposed to officially call it) convinced me it’s the place to start my Fourth of July weekend celebrations.
My favorite Downtown Mall block is finally nearing completion — great news after many moons, dodging barriers and rerouting walks to get to favorite designations like the Branigan Cultural Center, the Las Cruces Museum of Art, Coas My Bookstore, Blue Gate and Main Street galleries, Black Box and Las Cruces Community theaters and assorted other galleries, shops and restaurants.
The fences — most of them — are down, and a line of brave little trees are up.
“I’ve already seen Flo outside, sitting in the shade of the new trees and making some sketches,” quipped Jim Turrentine of Main Street Gallery/The Big Picture.
He was referring to his next-door mall neighbor, Flo Hosa Dougherty, who hosted recent exhibits of artwork created from the wood of the late, great Chinese pistaches that once provided verdant, leafy canopies for her Blue Gate Gallery.
Word on the mall is that the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market vendors could be back on their original block by October, or even September, if all goes well.
The market has blossomed and burgeoned in its relocated territory, with a reported 230 vendors, so they’ll still be offering their wares on the Rio Grande Theatre block, as well.
In the meantime, the color schemes have been discussed, the paint chips are chosen and volunteer crews are planning to spruce up old mall buildings, one by one.
I heard about the New Mexico MainStreet Program’s “Façade Squad” from Laura Kindseth, executive director of Downtown Las Cruces Partnership.
“It’s a new program designed to attract and inspire private property owners in downtown districts to renovate and rehabilitate the front and street-side façades of their buildings. The program employs professional architectural and design assistance provided by New Mexico MainStreet Program and the state’s Economic Development Department and the Friends of New Mexico MainStreet. The idea is to organize resources, materials, volunteers and local property and business owners to execute a façade improvement project efficiently and cost-effectively over one or more days,” Kindseth said.
She showed me the color scheme: a collection of warm, earthy, adobe-inspired hues.
A volunteer posse has already been busy prepping the first buildings in the project (Coas Bookstore and the Camuñez building next to the Rio Grande Theatre will be among the pioneers) and painting is supposed to start today.
If you’d like to help on future Main Street painting projects, contact Kindseth at (575) 525-1955 or e-mail
Since the Fourth of July has conveniently landed on a Monday this year, we’ll have a nice long holiday weekend to explore our territory.
I’m going to start at home with the Ramble monthly tour of galleries, shops and museums from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday on the Downtown Mall. It’s a nice chance to preview our up-and-coming block in a festive setting.
I think it’s looking good. Let me know what you think.
• • •
Meanwhile, back at home on the high desert range, I’d like to thank all of you who took the time to call and e-mail with your own stories about close encounters of the bat kind.
I suspected the daily patio doorstep deposits of black pellets and moth wings were just that, and you confirmed it.
I heard about various methods to discourage bats, from wires and bits of flapping fabric to electronic devices and attempts to lure the homesteaders to bat houses in more desirable locations.
In the end, I’d decided daily cleanups were easiest, especially since I found the bats a lot better than the usual annual moth invasions, inside and out, which the bat feasts seemed to have eliminated this year.
But the bat evidence vanished about the time I posted my desperado critter column on my blog. (Bats must be online rather than print fans, or maybe they’re the original sonar tweet maestros.) Or maybe they ran out of moths and flew off to the next fast food joint.
It’s a great weekend for humans, too, to hang out at home or head out to explore someplace new.
Happy Fourth of July weekend.

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

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