Friday, January 30, 2015


Feb. 8 FINE ART Photography center
It’s been building for decades and now I think it’s time to call it.
Las Cruces is becoming a world-class center for fine art photography and photographers.
Those in the know were taking note, long before my arrival in the mid 90s, when I soon learned of several legendary sharpshooters.
Mike Groves and his father L.C. (many don’t know that Mike started shooting first, and encouraged his dad ) already had stellar reps and popular studios and galleries. Frank Parrish was attracting attention for his remarkable wildlife images. Mary Daniels Taylor was eloquently chronicling life in the Mesilla Valley with her photos, as well as her historical research.
As in so much in Cruces, academia has given the arts a boost, too. New Mexico State University’s historical archives collected and preserved some landmark photos. The University Museum and the NMSU Art Gallery also showcase fine art photography in exhibits and collections. Former NMSU Gallery director Charles Lovell, a fine art photographer himself, helped nurture an appreciation for photography as a diverse and rich art form and talented journalism instructors have inspired generations of promising photojournalists.
And I think the Sun-News deserves a pat on the back for hiring photographers with that something extra that crosses into the realm of fine art photography. Many of our photogs have the awards, exhibit credits and in some cases, internationally-acclaimed studios, to prove it.
The late Dale Fulkerson comes to mind, and more recently Vladimir Chaloupka, Shari Viapando Hill and Norm Dettlaff. Currently our staff includes multi-award winner Robin Zielinkski, and our newest photog: Jett Loe, an award-winning  photojournalist and director whose credits include a long stint with the BBC in the UK.
Jim Turrentine at Main Street /The  Picture, is a talented and innovative fine art photographer in his own right and has also helped other photogs with advanced  printing and processing technology and a gallery space that searches out and showcases the work of some of our region’s top photographers.
Our museums have done their part, too. with exhibitions of internationally-renowned photographers’ works, including some world-class photogs who have recently moved to southern New Mexico. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Branigan Cultural Center, the Las Cruces Museum of Art, the Museum of Nature and Science and the Las Cruces Railroad Museum all incorporate photography in both permanent and rotating exhibits.
Preston Contemporary Art Center in Mesilla may have been a bit ahead of its time, but before it closed, renowned photography instructor Paul Schranz had established a cutting-edge series of multimedia workshops and gallery shows. Schranz has also taught at Doña Ana Branch Community College, where a variety of multimedia classes, in concert with programs at NMSU’s creative Media Institute, are preparing new generations for careers in everything from movies to video and game design.
We’ve even come up with ways to use photography as a way to nurture and heal and to help build bonds with others.
Former Las Crucen Cecilia Lewis, helped by several regional photographers, established Fresh Eyes, a photography program designed to help both prison inmates and juvenile offenders learn artistic and social skills. Fresh Eyes became a model for similar programs throughout the state and eventually, the nation. The project resulted in a first: a fine art prisoners’ photography exhibit in New Mexico’s State Capitol Building.
The Las Cruces Photography Club (formerly Camera Club) offers regular meetings, critique sessions and training workshops. They welcome photographers of all skill levels. Several members have told me that the camaraderie and encouragement of those in the group and annual competitions have helped them reach new levels.
And speaking of competition, Wayne Suggs of Las Cruces just received grand prize honors in the prestigious annual New Mexico Magazine Photography Contest. Another Las Crucen, Gary Kaiser, won second place honors. Check out their spectacular work in the magazine’s February issue.
There many others that deserve credit and acknowledgement for their own innovative work in photography and for teaching and inspiring others. The fact that at least two dozen other names spring to mind is indicative of what is now more tradition than trend here.
Las Cruces has become a world class center for fine art photography.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

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