Saturday, February 2, 2013

Artsy times in Cruces

By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Art will get you through times of limited money better than money will get you through times of no art. That’s my take on a famous saying from the 1960s and 1970s. And even if the economy is not all we might hope, when it comes to art, we’re always rich in the Land of Enchantment, and this year is shaping up as an especially prosperous time for the arts in Las Cruces and southern New Mexico. February For the Love of Art Month starts this Friday, and we’ll all have a lot to celebrate. The long-awaited, 59,000-square-foot, brand new NMSU Center for the Arts opens for its first public event in February: the American Southwest Theatre Company presentation of Thornton Wilder’s classic, “Our Town,” which runs Feb. 22 to March 10. We have so many theater companies, we’ve become known as the Broadway of the Southwest. And our reputation just got another boost with the historic first collaboration between NMSU’s Theater Department and the Las Cruces Symphony to present “Carousel.” Two internationally known artists, (and NMSU professors): Mark Medoff, whose laurels include a Tony Award and an Academy Award nomination, and NMSU Symphony conductor Lonnie Klein, teamed up with a talented group of more than 100 singers, actors, dancers and symphony musicians for a remarkable production that also was a homecoming for talented New York City kids with Las Cruces roots: Donald Groves, Maria Elena Armijo and Jessica Medoff. It’s been fun to watch generations of remarkable kids grow up here and make good in bigger ponds, in diverse fields that range from mariachi or Country-Western stardom to classical pianist superstars like Jeremy Denk. But it’s not all that surprising: we have both nature and nurture advantages here, with some extraordinary, talented souls who have chosen to make the Mesilla Valley their home base, and some wonderful schools and institutions for training and guidance. Consider our world-class resources: the Las Cruces Symphony, Las Cruces Chamber Ballet, top theater companies, the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, Creative Media Institute and top filmmakers, nationally-known, award-winning artists, playwrights, screenwriters, authors, poets, journalists, actors, dancers, choreographers, designers, composers, vocalists and musicians … We have an arts high school and many special arts and cultural programs for kids. In my time here, high school kids have been asked to play Carnegie Hall and NMSU choral groups have toured Europe. In the last couple of years, again, despite tough times, we’ve added some remarkable galleries, from Rokoko and Adobe Patio in Mesilla to clusters of imaginative studios and galleries downtown and in the Mesquite Street neighborhood, some of them home bases for an influx of talented artists from throughout the United States and around the world. Downtown Las Cruces is being transformed, with new shops, restaurants and galleries, the national awarding-winning, top-ranking Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts (and more and more fine arts) Market, a new look and a new outlook. New cultural organizations and events keep being created, and long-established groups have recently celebrated milestone anniversaries. Check out For the Love of Art Month happenings in today’s paper and celebrate by enjoying, appreciating and supporting our local bounty. Go to a concert or play. Applaud our vocalists, dancers, musicians and actors. Appreciate our authors and poets and playwrights and filmmakers. Contemplate our innovative multimedia geniuses. Invest in a piece of original art, from a piece of jewelry to a sculpture or painting. When it comes to art, we may well be poised for greatness. Or … look around. Maybe, we’re already there. Happy For the Love of Art Month. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at 575-541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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