Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are we entering a Golden Age

The Golden Age.
It’s a phrase I’ve been hearing as far back as I can remember, at very different points all over the globe. Often, according to those on the scene, I just missed it.
My hometown of Muskegon, Mich., was Lumber Queen of the World, the century before I was born. Hamburg, Germany, claimed to have as much to do with the Beatles phenomenon as rockin’ Liverpool ... a few years before I lived there.
I knew I was getting close. The Pacific Northwest was finally recognized as the epicenter of eco-consciousness, Grunge and coffee consumption shortly after I moved to Northern New Mexico. There, I was told, I was enjoying the last days of Santa Fe’s Golden Age. I did some seminal stories on Santa Fe Style, just as the trend was beginning to peak, and one of the last interviews with Georgia O’Keeffe, who died while I was living in the City Different.
This year, it hit me, as I was doing in-depth interviews with artists like Bob Diven, Irene Oliver-Lewis, Mark Medoff and others I’ve discussed Golden Age concepts with over the last two decades.
We’ve arrived. We’re smack dab in the middle of a Golden Age. Right here, Right now. In Las Cruces.
It’s been building for awhile. From what native and longtime Las Crucens have told me, I think it started, at least the arts and entertainment portion of the surge, sometime in the 1970s, with the founding and growth of theater groups, fiestas, performing arts, new venues, formation of professional and community arts organizations, a symphony and  a ballet company that attracted world-class artists.
Another surge started in the mid-1990s, about the time I was fortunate enough to arrive. Our little city was retaining, attracting and inspiring a world-class assortment of poets, fiction and non-fiction writers, playwrights, musicians, actors, filmmakers and visual artists.
We saw ourselves in artistic mirrors, in the words and music and visions of those who live here, and recognized the truth and beauty and heritage of our multicultural Borderlands. New fiestas to celebrate all this were born and the festivals we already had got bigger.
We paid more attention to our appearance. We’ve lovingly restored historical buildings. We made some bold new architectural statements, from the East Mesa to NMSU and Downtown Main Street. We finally tore down those ugly arches, created new theaters, federal and city buildings, plazas, museums, shops, schools and galleries downtown, and even got a start on establishing what could become a thriving Mesquite Street district of unique galleries, our answer to Santa Fe’s Canyon Road.
I’m not talking a Roman Empire, rise, decline and fall story here. We’ve been building up to this for awhile and we’re still at it. The “best places to live” lists have long-since discovered us and gotten the word out and we’ve attracted some remarkable people and enterprises without — so far, at least — losing our magical mix of arts, academic and agricultural resources, of wilderness, mountains, roadrunners, green chile, space pioneers and innovative artists.
I think we’ve reached a critical mass, a pinnacle, but I wouldn’t say we’ve peaked.
Here in high desert country, marathons are a better strategy than sprints, and I think we’re beautifully equipped for a long run, and getting better all the time.
That’s it. I’m calling it. Here we are: It’s the Golden Age of Las Cruces.
We should give more thought, very soon, to the big questions. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Where are we going? How can we preserve and nurture and develop our remarkable traits? How can we sustain and share and celebrate what makes us unique without losing our downhome querencia spirit and charm?
But just for a moment, let’s pause. Look around. Appreciate. Be grateful. And bask in our Golden Age.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or Tout or call575-541-5450.

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