Friday, August 24, 2012

Cultural Legacy Awards

This Saturday at 2...all are welcome.
402 West Court Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005

August 13, 2012
Contact: Irene Oliver-Lewis,, 575-647-2585

For Immediate Release
By Irene Oliver-Lewis
Las Cruces, NM-------Five individuals will be honored for their long-term cultural and arts contributions to the community, announced Robert “Pistol” Mangino, Board President of the Mesilla Valley Youth Foundation (dba) Court Youth Center (CYC).
Honored in an afternoon filled with music, reminiscences, film, and good food, the five community members will share their cultural innovations with the community, Saturday, August 25, 2012 from 2:00-4:30 p.m. at the Court Youth Center, 402 West Court Avenue. The awards ceremony to include music and reminiscences starts at 2:00 p.m. followed by a documentary by filmmaker Shakera Crawley and then a reception catered by Olive Garden. Musicians include CYC’s Mariachi Espuelas de Plata, and jazz from Diane Schutz, Roman Chip and Alan Kuncel and vocals by Shanna Aragon.
Those to be honored include, J. Paul Taylor, Ruben A. Smith, Lalo Natividad, Richard Weeks (posthumously), and S. Derrickson Moore. “Each of the individuals have created a cultural relevance in our community but they also have provided major support in a variety of ways to the growth of the Court Youth Center and our successful after school arts program for youth.” added Mangino.
“All of these people have been a constant both in the creation and the continuation of the Center as well as a personal support for our vision of excellence in arts creation for youth,” noted Irene Oliver-Lewis CYC’s Artistic Executive Producer and coordinator of the event. She also said the awardees will each receive an individually designed art piece created by Joie Morillo.
“We are honoring each of the people for some very specific connection to our programs and because each of them has created a “cultural legacy” in our city.” Oliver-Lewis explained.
“We must start with Ruben A. Smith who is instrumental in conceiving the idea of a youth arts center in Las Cruces to be housed in the historic Court Jr. High School where he went to school. Ruben lead the charge of creating a board of directors and with his expertise in the political environment he was able to secure local, state, and national funding for the renovation of the building. He is known for his political contributions locally and in the state but his belief of positive youth development and the importance of arts learning that are being honored at the Legacy Awards. We wouldn’t have a center if Ruben hadn’t seen the significance of saving the building in 1988 for arts programs for youth.” said Oliver-Lewis
Smith was born in Las Cruces, attended public schools and graduated from New Mexico State University in 1965 with a degree in accounting. After college, he enlisted in the United States Army and was recruited to perform with the prestigious North American Air Defense Command Band. The ensemble consisted of the highest caliber musicians from both the U.S. and Canada. He was principal bassoonist with the El Paso Symphony and is currently with the Las Cruces Symphony and several jazz and big-bands in Las Cruces and El Paso.
He served five terms in the New Mexico House of Representatives, District 35, where he sponsored legislation to create the NM Children, Youth, and Family Department and 1% for Art appropriation for capital outlay funding of state-funded buildings. He was elected Mayor of Las Cruces in 1991 as the first Mayor to be elected directly by the citizens in a city-wide election. He was re-elected to two additional four-year terms. During his tenure he founded the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance.
His cultural legacy award recognitions include: the founder of the Court Youth Center; leader in the restoration of the historic Court Jr. High School; leader in an initiative to convert the old Branigan Library to the current Branigan Cultural Center when he was president of the Doña Ana Arts Council; and co-sponsor of legislation that lead to the successful 1% for Art state monies that support art projects throughout the state requiring that 1% of capital outlay money for state-funded building projects be used for public art projects.
“Derrickson’s words have helped shape a cultural sensibility and arts presence in Southern New Mexico that is unparalleled in our local journalism environment. She has written about all the arts, hundreds of artists with her artist of the week column; made us aware of events and cultural institutions; and is now effecting the arts scene through social media with her blog and twitter.” observed Oliver-Lewis.
S. Derrickson Moore covers arts and entertainment news and features, health, home and travel articles and the Las Cruces Style column for the Las Cruces Sun News. She has received more than 200 national and regional reporting awards, Reader’s Choice Awards, a National Newspaper Publishers Association award for Best Local Newspaper Columnist, and ADDYs for print and broadcast ads. She was president of her own public-interest/public relations firm and vice-president for two of Florida’s largest advertising agencies. She grew up in Michigan and was a newspaper editor and library network coordinator in Portland, Oregon. She has lived in Connecticut, New York, Germany, Jamaica, Florida and Santa Fe where she worked for the Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexican. She has written for numerous publications. She is a published poet and the author of an award-winning biography “Tenny Hale: American Prophet”, co-produced a documentary based on the book, and has authored two works of fiction, “Santa Fey” and “Age of Awe and Wonder” that combines themes of prophecy and archaeology.
Her cultural legacy award recognitions include: inspiration to start the yearly Dia de los muertos celebration in Mesilla; fostering the careers of hundreds of artists; public awareness of community events like For the Love of Art Month; the Mariachi International Conference; and numerous other yearly arts and culture events.
Lalo Natividad and Richard Weeks helped start an organization called El Grupo Cultural in Mesilla. The concept of the group was to create an awareness and interest in reviving several community events that used to take place in Mesilla. Because of their love of Hispanic cultural traditions the Cinco de Mayo and the Diez y Seis de Septiembre fiestas were reinstated on the Mesilla Plaza and are now a major cultural tradition in Southern New Mexico. Another yearly event they fostered was the singing of Christmas Carols on the Plaza to accompany the lighting of the luminarias by Los Leones de Mesilla. “Dick had a portable accordion that he used to play on the plaza. He played at Christmas and that helped get the Christmas Eve caroling on the plaza started,” explained Natividad, of his partner Weeks who died five years ago.
Both of the men loved to travel and be inspired by the gardens and architecture of the countries they visited. They were especially influenced by the architectural style of Gaudi, a Spanish architect who believed in using natural materials in unique combinations. They moved to Mesilla in 1960 and created what is now known as the Natividad-Weeks compound and gardens that have been featured in several books, New Mexico Magazine, and locally in Ventanas del Valle. Weeks worked in human resources for a copper mine in Silver City, and Natividad worked for the El Paso fire department for thirty years.
Their cultural legacy award recognitions are: founders of El Groupo Cultural: the fiestas and Christmas celebrations in Mesilla, and their unique home and gardens.
“J. Paul Taylor will turn 92 a day before the Legacy Awards and he represents the best of our cultural heritage in the community. He is a walking legacy,” said Oliver-Lewis. Taylor is known as an educator, a historian, and a political statesman. His most notable cultural contribution is the donation of the 1850’s family home by his wife, Mary Helen Daniels Taylor and his seven children. The donation is known as the Taylor-Barela-Reynolds-Mesilla State Monument and is complete with countless of artifacts, painting, textiles, antique furniture, and historical text and documents from the areas. The home also highlights many of the photographs taken by Mrs. Taylor.
Taylor attended Chamberino Elementary, Anthony Union High, (currently Gadsden High School), and graduated from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts with a BA in History and English in 1942. He was in the US Navy. He married Mary Helen Daniels in 1945. His public school career began in 1951 teaching in Mesilla Park Elementary. He was a principal at Doña Ana and Alameda Elementary Schools and became Associate Superintendent for Instruction and Program Development where he initiated the Bilingual, Head Start and Title I programs. He was a New Mexico State Representative, District 33, for 18 years.
His cultural legacy award recognition is for the creation of the Mesilla State Monument at his home.
Oliver-Lewis encourages the public to RSVP to or 575.647-2585 to ensure a space or if you have any questions about the event. The event is free courtesy of the Mesilla Valley Youth Foundation Board of Directors, Olive Garden, Sierra Vista Growers, and Curtis Rosemond at WalMart.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Do these things at least once

LAS CRUCES — I’ve been writing about fiestas and interesting places to see and things to do in New Mexico for several decades now, but I’m still not even close to fulfilling my bucket list of potential New Mexico adventures.
It seems there are endless enchanting possibilities in the Land of Enchantment. I still haven’t perfected my ultimate list of “musts” for Southern New Mexico.
But I do have a preliminary assortment of things I feel you must do — at least once — though many have become regular favorites that I never tire of visiting with local or visiting amigos.
This is by no means a complete list, and I haven’t included frequent regional pleasures, like favorite local outdoor markets, galleries, museums, theaters and restaurants.
One of my big “musts” is happening today, the last day of Deming’s Great American Duck Race. At least once, choose a quacker from their stable and join the race. It’s not whether you win or lose that counts (though last year’s top two winners split a purse of almost $3,000), but the chance to say that you did you best and earned your “I raced a duck” ribbon.
There are several festivals and experiences coming up that I may not get to attend every year, but I would still maintain that at least one visit is mandatory.
Here’s my own partial list. Have fun developing your own choices.
• The Hatch Chile Festival, Sept. 1 & 2. If you’re new here, you’ll find your own fave sources for bulk chile purchase and roasting, but at least once, go to the fiesta and buy some chiles and exotic chile products at the mother ship.
White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational, Sept. 15 & 16. What can compare to the sight of colorful balloons ascending over sparkling White Sands? Or check out the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, Oct. 6 to 14, the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta, Sept. 8 & 9 and our own Mesilla Valley Balloon Rally (in 2013: Jan. 12 & 13). And at least once: Go up, up and away in a beautiful balloon yourself. Volunteer to crew or help out at a festival and you might be offered a free ride.
The Whole Enchilada Fiesta, Sept. 28 to 30. I‘ve actually watched the preparation of the World’s Largest Flat Enchilada. For the first time this year, you won’t be able to do that, but we can all hope that Roberto Estrada will be back next year, by popular demand, with new equipment.
Zombie Walk, Oct. 27. This is the newest entry on my list, but my visitors were so impressed by last year’s zombies, that I’m bullish on the impressive parade of the walking dead, lurching around Main Street Downtown. This year, the Doña Ana Arts Council will launch a new event at the same time: the Haunted Theatre, in what is billed as the state’s oldest adobe theater: the Rio Grande. At least once: Concoct your own outfit and join the walking dead yourself. You could win undying fame and a prize.
Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 2, 3 & 4 in Mesilla, and several fall events in the Borderland. There are all kinds of “musts” attached to this, from exhibits and Jose Tena’s altar at the Branigan Cultural Center to the fiesta, the procession, art shows, and altars in Mesilla and other special events all over the region. At least once: Dress up, bring noisemakers and join the procession (always at dusk Nov. 2) and build an altar on the Mesilla Plaza for a departed loved one.
Renaissance ArtsFaire, Nov. 3 & 4 at Young Park. It’s the region’s largest cultural event, with all kinds of ye olde entertainment, regal processions, arts and crafts, food treats and fun. At least once: Dress up in full Renaissance regalia and plan to make a day of it. And get the Boy Scouts to take you on a canoe ride to visit Magellan, the official RenFaire lake dragon.
Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, Nov. 16 to 18. Every year there are workshops, a Student Showcase, a Spectacular Concert, a Mariachi Mass and a Parque Festival. At least once: Experience the excitement and bright colors and sounds of folklorico dancers rushing into Pan Am as some of the world’s best mariachi musicians perform.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival every Dec. 10, 11 and 12. Make the pilgrimage up Tortugas Mountain at least once. It’s a moving, spiritual experience that can forge profound bonds with your Creator, your fellow pilgrims, and your community. I don’t make the trek every year, but I do almost always return for the dancing and to light candles for loved ones in one of the most beautiful churches in the Southwest.
Mesilla Plaza Christmas Eve Carols & Luminarias, Dec. 24. There are lots of luminaria events now, but this is the first and best. At least once: Stay to sing carols and have a hot beverage at Josefina’s Gate.

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

Friday, August 17, 2012

¡It's Full-Tilt Fiesta Season!

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Get ready. It’s FTFS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Season).
Our fiesta dead zone is shrinking and FTFS seems to start earlier every year.
The ducks used to stand alone, as they waddled in for Deming’s Great American Duck Race (Thursday through Aug. 26 this year) to lead us into FTFS, that festival-filled time of year that stretches from late August to January.
But in recent years, we’ve added two big events about the same time: the White Sands International Film Fest (which starts next Wednesday and runs through Aug. 26) and the MainStreet ¡SalsaFest! which fills downtown with spicy fun on Aug. 26.
If you’re a newcomer and need some clues, you can tell that FTFS is on its way by a surefire olfactory harbinger: the smell of roasting chiles.
Just when we need lots of energy, the chile harvest comes rolling in to help us rev up our endorphin systems, cheer us on and strengthen our will to live, dance and party hearty. Coincidence? I think not.
It’s all part of the natural order of things for those of us blessed to live in at FTFS ground zero, the city of festive moods and fiesta attitudes: Las Cruces.
And we can party on and nurture our inner fiesta animals knowing that festivals are packed with healthy benefits for our economy, our relationships, and many regional causes and community organizations.
The festivities have gotten more polished in the almost two decades I’ve lived here, and we’ve attracted more professionals to help run some events, but many of our largest fiestas are still organized by volunteers, and I can’t think of a single major event that could manage without those who selflessly donate their time and expertise.
Appropriately, our official 2012 New Mexico Statehood Centennial celebrations officially kicked off several months early, not in the ancient City Different (Santa Fe) nor the Duke City (Albuquerque) but where a major 100-year state fiesta should rightfully begin, right here at Fiesta Central. It all started about a year ago in August 2011, with the Centennial SalsaFest.
And once again, were launching FTFS with one of what we’re calling Superweekends, times when fiestas cluster, like racing ducks, and it takes a lot of careful planning to hit them all … or at least the highlights from your favorites.
We’ve got two in a row, right out of the chute, with ducks, film and salsa next week. And with no breather, we’ll go right into the three-day Labor Day weekend, featuring must-go fiesta choices that include the 41th Hatch Chile Festival, New Mexico Harvest Wine Festival, Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts and a super-festive Downtown Ramble.
The Superweekends vary from year to year. This year, for instance, Renaissance ArtsFaire will be same weekend as the main Día de Los Muertos celebrations in Mesilla (some years, they fall on the different weekends). There’s no rest for the costumed (or Doña Ana Arts Council staff and volunteers), because there will be a superweekend that includes DAAC’s increasingly popular Zombie Walk and the opening of their first Rio Grande Haunted Theatre event Oct. 27, plus Día de los Muertos events all over town, Halloween on a Wednesday and RenFaire and Dead Day procession the next weekend. Just figure on being in costume for nine or 10 days for Superweek Plus.
There may be another FTFS Superweekend the first of December, which often includes La Casa Bazaar and assorted city tree-lighting, trail of lights and general winterfest fun. In fact, December is usually a FTFS Supermonth around here, challenging the stamina of the most enthusiastic fiesta fans.
So this is your last weekend to rest up, and get in training. Stock up on peppers and make sure to maintain a therapeutic chile level, practice your salsa moves, and get in touch with your amigos near and far to plan your fiesta schedule. I’ve made some calls, checked some websites and put together the annual Las Cruces Style FTFS Highlights list to get you started.
No matter what tomorrow (or the Mayan calendar) may bring, this could be your best FTFS ever.
Ready. Set. ¡Fiesta!

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450; Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

Las Cruces Style Full-Tilt Fiesta Season Highlights

Aug. 22-26: White Sands International Film Fest
Aug. 23-26: Great American Duck Race
Aug. 26: SalsaFest!
Sept. 1 & 2: 41st Hatch Chile Festival
Sept. 1 to 3: New Mexico Wine Harvest Wine Festival
Sept. 1 & 2: Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts
Sept. 8: Fort Selden Frontier Days
Sept. 15 to 16: White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational
Sept. 15 & 16: Mesilla’s Diez y Seis de Septiembre
Sept. 28 to 30: The Whole Enchilada Fiesta
Sept. 29 to Oct. 28: Mesilla Valley Maze
Oct. 3 to 7: Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo
Oct. 5 to 8: Silver City Red Dot Studio Tour & Gallery Walk (Formerly Silver City Weekend at the Galleries)
Oct. 6 & 7: Mesilla Jazz Happening
Oct. 6 & 7: New Mexico Pumpkin Festival
Oct. 13 & 14: La Viña Harvest Wine Fest
Oct. 24 to 27: NMSU Homecoming
Oct. 27 DAAC Zombie Walk & Haunted Theatre Opening
Oct. 31: Halloween
Nov. 2, 3 & 4: Dia de Los Muertos in Mesilla, plus parade float, processions, art shows September through November.
Nov. 3 & 4: Renaissance ArtsFaire
Nov. 11: Mesilla Veteran’s Day Ceremony, Mariachi y Mas Parque Fiesta
Nov. 12: City of Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade
Nov. 16 to 18: Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, workshops, Student Showcase Spectacular Concert, Mariachi Mass
Nov. 17: El Tratado de la Mesilla Reenactment
Nov. 18: Toys for Kids Motorcycle Parade
Nov. 30, Dec. 1 & 2: La Casa Holiday Bazaar
Early December (TBA): ninth annual Trail of Lights Fiesta, City Christmas Tree Lighting
Dec. 14: Mesilla Xmas Tree Lighting
Dec. 15: Fort Selden Luminaria Tour
Dec. 10 to 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta at Tortugas & St. Gen, Tortugas “A” Mountain Pilgrimage
Dec. 20 to 23: Las Cruces Chamber Ballet Nutcracker
Dec. 24: Mesilla Plaza Christmas Eve Carols & Luminarias

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is social media making us anti-social?

LAS CRUCES — Could technology make us a nation of hermits?
Lately I’ve been wondering if social media could, ironically, be fostering a generation with no — or substantially lesser — social skills.
Hasn’t Facebook substantially diminished actual face time with our fellow human beings? Has the warm, richly nuanced sound of a human voice — in person or via phone — been replaced by tweets and texts and e-mails?
A month with a tumble of texting teenagers has me wondering if this will soon be a world of vanishing physical intimacy.
Will we be connected with the whole world but estranged from those in our own household, from our families and colleagues and even our creative collaborators?
Recalling them as chatty tots, I was stuck this summer by the sometimes almost eerie silence as grandson Alex the Great and his cousins sent flurries of texts to one another while they were just inches apart, in the living room, in the car, eating dinner at the dining room table.
Is this just a phase? Or will our ears and vocal chords atrophy while toddlers develop carpal tunnel syndrome as they furiously manipulate iPads with stubby little fingers?
Which brings me back to the whole physical intimacy thing. Already one-person households are reportedly escalating, even in tough times, when it would make more economic sense to share space.
Will there come a time when we will share spoken words — and hugs and kisses and live face time — only with the technologically illiterate?
Alex, now an old dude of 15, started designing his first website in preschool. Today’s babes often have some kind of online toy interaction almost from birth.
With all the cell phone and Skype communication, will kids with distant grandparents or parents serving in the military far away, be shocked and traumatized when they finally encounter loved ones in 3-D real time instead of familiar flat screen virtual reality forms?
I’ve wondered if our growing obsession with pets has something to do with a longing for lost physical intimacy and aural communication. Despite a few amazing phone rescue stories, dogs and cats do not generally dial 911 or call us on cell phones. They neither text, nor tweet (unless they’re birds). They woof and meow and wag or swish tails. They look us in the eyes. They cuddle and snuggle and let us know they love to take walks and hang out with us.
Think about it. How many human relationships do you have with that much daily honest communication, loving interactions, and joyful, playful, slap-on-the-back good times?
Could furry gratification sate human skin hunger, the need to shake a hand, touch a cheek, embrace a friend?
Will primal drives be enough to keep humans connected? Some say various permutations of cybersex already threaten marriage and traditional hands-on, real-time relationships.
And some see the attachment parenting movement and helicopter parents as a reaction to the growing forces that seem to separate us from intimate relationships with our children at earlier and earlier stages of life, long before kids or moms and dads are ready.
Signs and portents abound.
Thanks to social media, we can foment a revolution overnight. But will we have the social skills to develop and maintain a society?
Is the U.S. Congress a warning about what happens when information access abounds, but the skill sets to live and work together seem to be wasting away?
I watch my grandson and his cousins, close as siblings since their births, often separated now by distance but united by technology.
I find them asleep, exhausted after a rock fest, cuddled in a congenial heap, cell phones dark and silent. Profoundly bonded in dream time.
The sterile, aloof, solitary cybersociety may be coming. Soon, even. But not yet.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

New generations like fusion fashion

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — While pondering back-to-school styles, I had some experts in residence this summer: visiting grandson Alexander the Great and his teen cousins, Lexi and Darian Galbreath, who are dividing their summer between Las Cruces and the Pacific Northwest.
When it comes to fashion trends, that corner of the world, I am given to understand, is still cool, or cool again. Or maybe hot. I’ve been through so many fashion cycles in my life that I have a hard time keeping track of whether the ultimate current accolade is heating up or cooling down. And could it be linked to the weather? Is it cool to be cool where the weather is, too? Or could matching opposites (cool is hot in Las Cruces, and hot is cooler in Seattle) be trendier?
Or on-trend, as cooler/hotter fashionistas are saying these days.
I suspect that when you find yourself referring to “these days” a lot, it could be the first clue that you are hopelessly clueless.
But I try to hang in there and do what good reporters have always done: go directly to the source.
I asked Alex how he would characterize his own style, which emphasized a summer time mix of knee-length solid color shorts with side stripes and shirts (sleeveless and Ts) which reminded me of sports jerseys, but often featured band logos and enigmatic slogans and phrases. He arrived and departed wearing skinny jeans and horizontally striped shirts, mostly in grays and black and muted colors.
“Preppy punk,” he decided, best characterizes his current style, “maybe with a few things some people would call hipster.”
Alex and his primos tried to clue me in on assorted other teen fashion archetypes, from punk and neo-grunge (still kind of a mystery to me) to “hipster,” a term which has endured from the 1930s and ‘40s, if I can trust my parents’ references, though manifestations have changed a lot over the decades.
Today’s hipsters, according to urban are, “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions.”
Sounds like fun to me.
Alex arrived with a retro hairstyle, which reminded me of something between the original Beatles’ moptops and Kurt Cobain’s shaggy mane. While he was in Las Cruces, he got a cut that has a number of names at ontrend websites, at least one of which I can’t use in a family newspaper. It can be waxed and coaxed with products with equally strange names into a kind of tousled or elevated pompadour, and reminds me of Robert Pattinson’s look in the “Twilight” movies with a little early Elvis thrown in.
His cousins had very stylish unisex hair, combed forward and kind of feathered on the ends, that brought to mind late ‘60s Vidal Sassoon geometrics with modern fringes.
Alex’s footwear of choice is a version of the loafers he rejected summarily in his wild preschool youth, when his Gram felt they were a fine alternative to dangling shoe laces.
But that was then and those were leather penny loafers. This is now and we’re talking eco-conscious black canvas loafers by a manufacturer who pledges to donate a pair of shoes to the needy for each pair purchased.
A fine and logical choice for the Millennium kids, also known as “Generation Give,” for their earth-friendly, generous natures.
Walk on, new generations. If the clothes do indeed make the man (or woman) and reflect true substance, you guys are off to a creative start.

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