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If you are a southern New Mexico “old timer,” you may remember black and white posters that first appeared in the early 1970s that featured hand-drawn images and detailed research of the highway leading into Las Cruces and many sites in and around the city – New Mexico State University, the Organ Mountains, the Las Cruces police and fire departments, the log cabin that used to sit at the south entrance to the downtown mall and is now in Chloride, New Mexico and El Patio among them – along with posters of Silver City, Cloudcroft. Route 66 and other New Mexico communities and icons.
The artist was Bob Windmire (1945-2008). Born in St. Louis, he grew up in Springfield, Illinois and “hit the road as a traveling artist” in 1970.
Many of the posters he created of Las Cruces, of New Mexico and of other parts of the state and of other states are still for sale on a website maintained by Bob’s younger brother, Buz, who lives in Illinois and has continued to make Bob’s artwork available.
Bob did most of the poster work, including the Las Cruces poster, in the 1970s and ‘80s, when he attended NMSU and lived and traveled in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and other states, Buz said.
“He was an incredible researcher,” Buz said. “He knew an awful lot about everything. He didn’t want to draw anything unless it was absolutely accurate.”
Bob also “kept rather detailed diaries of what he was doing,” Buz said, including entries from when Bob first came to Las Cruces.
This is from Bob Waldmire’s diary entry on April 22, 1979: “While jogging at sundown, into the undeveloped creosote bush-covered south part of the NMSU campus, I stopped in a low spot and watched a massive cloud formation in the west growing dark with the sky. I was struck with a revelation: there before me was one of those things that makes life possible. And I was struck with the indescribable beauty of it. And I realized that every bit of me, and all of life is made up of the elements of the earth & atmosphere, just as that massive cloud formation … and I decided that I should strive to reflect as much beauty as humanly possible.”
That entry, which included a drawing of the cloud, is in one of the dozen spiral-bound notebooks containing Bob’s notes and drawings that Buz donated to the Illinois State Research Library, which has a section on Bob’s work.
Because of their mother’s influence, Bob was a good speller and “a pretty good wordsmith,” Buz said.
“His talent was, if he could see it, he could draw it,” Buz said.
“They’re almost timeless,” Buz said about Bob’s posters.
If there was “somebody around him watching him work,” he loved that,” Buz said.
In fact, some of Bob’s posters have scribblings and other hand-drawn contributions he included from people who had been watching him work, Buz said.
It likely took Bob about three months to complete the Las Cruces poster, which he later updated, Buz said. He completed 35 posters and had started work on four others when he got sidetracked into other projects, Buz said, including sign painting and making flyers.
“I enjoy promoting his talent,” said Buz, who is working with his wife and son to make more posters available for sale on the “Bob Waldmire Art & Souvenirs” website (bobwaldmire.com).
In addition to posters, the website has postcards, stickers and miscellaneous artwork for sale.
Contact Buz Waldmire at 217-971-4287 and firstname.lastname@example.org.