Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Artists have realized some challenging goals- March 6

LAS CRUCES  -  After the full-tilt fiesta artistic spirit of For the Love of Art Month (FLAM) , I found two comments stuck with me.
Before the 2016 celebrations began, I was reminiscing with Kelley Hestir, who, with Myriam Lozada-Jarvis, cofounded ArtForms Artists of New Mexico, sponsors of FLAM. Hestir noted that one of their goals was to see art in new places in the Mesilla Valley.
At month’s end, I discussed For the Love of Lit with Sin Fronteras Poetry Without Borders founder Michael Mandel.
“When we first started doing For the Love of Lit, I had the thought that it’s something we do all year, but February’s the one month everybody cares about it. April is Poetry Month, but we have poetry every month of the year. More stuff brings more awareness, so it’s good. We should have love of art, poetry and all the arts, every month of the year,” Michael said.
And it’s clear that Kelley, Myriam and Michael have achieved their goals, and gotten their wishes to a degree that even they may not have realized.
The arts scene has grown and changed a lot in the last two decades, something we may not fully appreciate after a year when we saw a lot of once-beloved events and fiestas call it quits or change forms. (It’s worth noting that some, like this week’s Las Cruces International Film Festival, have already been reborn, reportedly bigger and better than ever and the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference plans for a big return this year.)
And yes, we do have arts everywhere. When I first moved here in the mid-90s, I didn’t expect to find art everywhere. Now, I do: in beauty and tattoo parlors, some with their own little expanded gallery sections, in restaurants and tea and coffee shops that have rotating art exhibits, in office and theater lobbies, in dress shops and dressing rooms and even restrooms.
My doctor’s office has original art not only in the reception area, but in each of the exam rooms. Hospitals and clinics pride themselves on their burgeoning art collections.
We’ve discovered that once we have art around, we want more of it, and we want it every day.
Shortly after I moved here, the Doña Ana Arts Council created an annual ArtsHop, and it was more than possible in one evening to get to all the participating galleries (which back then, meant pretty much every gallery) in Las Cruces and Mesilla. Now, it’s a challenge to get to all the openings during the monthly Ramble at just the downtown galleries, let alone manage to make all the gallery, arts organizations’ and artists’ studio tours that have become popular from North Las Cruces to Mesquite Street and Picacho Hills.
It can take hours to do justice to arts and crafts offerings at farmers and crafts markets in Las Cruces and Mesilla and the arts sections of festivals with widely diverse themes. Because we’re here in the land or art lovers, we have come to expect that there will be an artistic component to festivals for everything from beer and wine to cowboys, country music, ducks, rocks and minerals, and even guns and chiles. In the Mesilla Valley, a fiesta is just not a fiesta without art.
And it’s not just the visual arts. We have a symphony orchestra, bands and orchestras formed by retirees, and any kind of musical group you can think of - and many creative fusions you’d never imagine. Most of us know about our remarkable theater companies, and it’s getting hard to keep up with all the new and talented groups that have been formed in recent years. We have amazing and ever-growing dance groups and performances (award-winning NMSU groups, the state’s first ballet company, We Are One Dance and Drum, which attracts folk and Middle Eastern dance aficionados from through Mexico and the Southwest, and even a celebrated aerial dance troop).
And literature and poetry. Sin Fronteras also hosts open mics at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month at the Palacio Bar in Mesilla, and there are open mics all over town and as part of other events, including the first Friday Coyote Coffee House, and readings by emerging and celebrated authors and playwrights at NMSU and regional theaters.
We find cutting-edge art and places to educate new generations of artists and art lovers in arts institutions, too, from new private galleries and a refurbished adobe theater to arts schools, three city museums, and a multi-million NMSU arts center that did not exist when FLAM began.
This was not spontaneous combustion. Art begets art, and a supportive and appreciative community of art lovers, educators and arts aficionados inspires artists and an artistic ambience that’s 24-7. Something remarkable has been happening and it’s continuing to grow. We are fortunate to live in a place that loves art every day, all year around.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at  575-5450, dmoore@lcsun-news.com or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.

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