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For the Love of Art Month is once again upon us in the Mesilla Valley, and there’s no better way to kick off Las Cruces’ month-long celebration of all things art than the First Friday Downtown Art Ramble, set for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, along Main Street and throughout Downtown Las Cruces.
Much of the excitement is centered on the Branigan Cultural Center opening of “Here & There,” the annual Art-Forms Artists Association of New Mexico’s member exhibition. The show is comprised of photographs, fractal art, paintings, sculpture and more; the exhibition reflects the diverse membership of ArtForms, including professional artists, art enthusiasts, business owners, hobbyists, retirees, students, and teachers.
This year’s member exhibit is so large, however, that the BCC alone cannot contain it. To make room for all this exceptional art, two days later, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, Tombaugh Gallery, inside Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces at 2000 S. Solano Drive, will host a second artists’ reception for “Here & There.”
That’s not all the BCC has in store, though. Also opening Feb. 5 is “Reflections: African-American Life from the Myrna Colley- Lee Collection,” which tells a story of community and place through a selection of paintings, photographs, textile pieces, and works on paper from the collection of renowned costume designer and arts patron, Myrna Colley-Lee. The imagery in “Reflections” focuses primarily on narrative works and landscapes of everyday life, past and present, and includes such noted artists as Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Gwen Knight, Betye Saar, James Van Der Zee, and Eudora Welty.
Thoughtfully co-curated by René Paul Barilleaux and Susan Lloyd McClamroch, and organized by International Arts & Artists, “Reflections” allows viewers to connect the strong tradition of storytelling by African Americans with the sense of place that is largely unique to Southerners.
The third ongoing exhibit at BCC is photographer Chris Carruth’s “The Visionarias.” In this series of photographs, taken in early 2014 and 2015, Carruth documents the Visionaria Network’s ongoing development efforts in Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley of Peru. The images portray multiple people, locations, and projects, elaborating on the organization’s work as well as its impact in communities.
The Visionaria Network promises a sustainable, community-driven, participant-owned model of development work, and strives to create a network of confident women leaders who plan and implement development initiatives within their communities. Carruth has worked in both documentary and fine-art photography since 2010. His main themes focus on identity, place and empowerment. He lectures at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Across the courtyard from the cultural center at the Las Cruces Museum of Art, “Graphicanos: Contemporary Latino Prints from the Serie Project” opens the same night. The exhibit features serigraph prints from the archives of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Fort Wayne, Texas, by Latino artists exploring cultural issues of the Latino community throughout the United States.
The Serie Project, a nonprofit organization founded by Sam Coronado in 1993 in Austin, Texas, promotes the fine art of serigraphy. In the past two decades, the organization has fostered over 250 artists from different professional levels and ethnic backgrounds, who together have produced a rare and special collection of serigraphs reflecting the Mexican American and Latino experience in the United States.
There’s a lot to take in at the City of Las Cruces Museums, but there’s much more waiting for you around Downtown!
Down the street, Big Picture Digital Image Experts and Gallery features the work of Wall Batterton in “Conglomerations!,” also opening Friday. In “Conglomerations!,” Batterton exhibits his collages and face sculptures, using each medium to make a unique statement about his view of the world at large.
“From modern left-over stuff and salvaged wood scraps, I watched the faces evolve into an endless variety of human-like expressions,” Batterton said of the work. “They are my modern tribute to our ancestral primitive art that is still present all over the world,” he said. “My collages are expressions of my view of the world condition – the mounting-frenzied- over- populated world, crazed by wars, the planet’s rampant groups, religious ferment and downright mental desperation.”
Tucked unassumingly behind COAS Books, Quillin-Stephens Gallery that evening will debut “something completely different” for the February ramble. Artist Dani Anderson experiments in a variety of media but will be showing her acrylic- on-canvas paintings on canvas that is highly textured, saturated with color and filled with found objects, polymer clay, copper foil and anything else she visualizes as she creates intriguing abstract shapes and designs. Anderson will be on-hand during the ramble to discuss and illustrate her technique.
The lush, colorful work of members of the New Mexico Watercolor Society- Southern Chapter will adorn the halls of Mas Art frame and supply.
The Las Cruces Arts Association (LCAA) has work popping up all over town during For the Love of Art month. From its home at Art On Easels Gallery, located inside the Community Enterprise Center, LCAA members will show and discuss their work during the ramble (as well as during the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market each third Saturday of the month) and, next door at Main Street Bistro and Ale House, more work from LCAA members has been pulled together as “Art We Love” – a show so big, work is also on display across town at Café de Mesilla.
The next day – from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 – another of Downtown Las Cruces’ galleries, Mesquite Art Gallery, will unveil an exhibit of the work of Deming- based sculptor Claudia Dennee, who makes wonderful use of found bones, skulls, wood and more. Her pieces are composed of mixed media including wood, bone, paper and metal. She finds mesquite and bone in the desert surrounding her home. They are incorporated in the design by extensive carving, gluing, paper, leather and metal application and painting.
“I am inspired by myth, fairy tale, and natural surroundings,” Dennee said of her work. “Animal behavior often informs my pieces. In addition, cross-cultural and archaeological records are often referenced.”
Remember: This is just the beginning of For the Love of Art Month. For more information including schedules, maps and calendars, visit http:// artformsnm.org and look for more in coming issues of the Las Cruces Bulletin.