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.

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