Thursday, October 11, 2012

NM arts groups celebrate 50 years By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — There are some noteworthy golden anniversaries to celebrate this year, along with our state’s 100th birthday. Right here at home, the Las Cruces Art Association, one of the oldest ongoing cultural groups in the Borderlands, is marking its 50th year. So is the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. Its best-known attractions (the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art and the New Mexico History Museum) are in Santa Fe, along with the Office of State Archaeological Studies. But the foundation also is responsible for state monuments across New Mexico, including nearby Fort Selden, and two Southern New Mexico families have bequeathed some remarkable gifts that will add immeasurable to the cultural resources and attractions here in the Mesilla Valley. Dr. Kent Jacobs, a past MNMF board president and current foundation trustee and regent, and his wife, artist Sallie Ritter Jacobs, have bequeathed their Las Cruces home, which will become an art museum. And J. Paul Taylor, an MNMF honorary trustee and regent, has also made arrangements to leave to the public the historic Mesilla Plaza adobe home he shared with his late wife Mary and their family. The Jacobs and Taylor families are also bequeathing some impressive art and artifact collections. “Since its establishment in 1962 by Santa Fe attorney Thomas Catron III, the foundation has generated more than $84 million in contributions to support exhibits, collections and educational programs across the museum system — not just in Santa Fe,” according to a recent editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican. You can learn more about the MNMF and its activities at The Las Cruces Arts Association will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a banquet at 1 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Encanto Heritage Hotel and at a November exhibit at Branigan Cultural Center. I was asked to be the keynote speaker for their October gathering and have had fun perusing some newspaper clippings and histories. Founded in 1962 by artists living in Dona Ana County, the group was then known as the Las Cruces Arts and Crafts Association. It was great to see photos of the group’s second director, the late, great artist Patsy Tombaugh (Pluto discoverer Clyde’s wife) and other well-known artists I’ve gotten to know in my almost two decades here. The group quickly established a tradition of service and education, finding venues and organizing exhibitions for artists of all ages and skill levels. “From the beginning, members sought a way to communicate with other artists and be of service in the arts,” said long-time member and three-time LCAA director Rayma Claessen, who traces the group from its first home at Barker Street and Avenida de Mesilla to its newly opened headquarters at Mountain Gallery & Studios, 138 W. Mountain Ave. Learn more about the group (which welcomes new members) and its activities at Happy 50th to everyone affiliated with some great organizations. You’ve enriched our daily lives in the Land of Enchantment. 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.

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