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Las Cruces Bulletin
In 1998, Mayor Ken Miyagishima decreed 28 days of each year in Las Cruces would be henceforth devoted to all things art – visual art, film, song, poetry, literature, theatre and beyond – proclaiming February For the Love of Art Month in the City of the Crosses.
Nearly two decades later, as the weather starts to warm and the wind starts to blow through the valley, a quick look around Las Cruces evinces the month-long celebration is alive and thriving under the guard of the ArtForms Artists Association of New Mexico, making February the shortest month of the year with the longest list of artistic endeavors and undertakings.
From the first through the twenty-eight of the month, there’s no limit to what art-loving Las Crucens can do, make, see and create – gallery openings at the city’s eclectic art galleries, museums, performing arts and nontraditional venues and public spaces, new productions by the Mesilla Valley’s longest-running theatre companies, concerts and live performances, poetry readings, workshops and demonstrations, literary roundtables, studio tours through the spaces in which artists create art and much more.
Though there’s plenty to see right off the bat, For the Love of Art Month really gets going with the First Friday Downtown Art Ramble, held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, in which the dozen-some galleries dotting Main Street’s façade and those in the nearby Mesquite Historic District unveil their latest monthly exhibit featuring some of the best and brightest locals hung aside works from every part of the globe.
The focal point of the ramble this year is the debut of the Las Cruces Museum of Art’s 19th annual ArtForms Members Exhibit, “Here & Now.” Featuring photography, fractal art, paintings, sculpture, multimedia and more, this annual members’ exhibit culls the best work from the ranks of the ArtForms Artists Association – professional artists, art enthusiasts, hobbyists, business owners, students, teachers, retirees and those with a simple love for the arts.
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 an artists’ reception for the extensive spread of “Here & Now,” so deep and diverse a collection it broke the bounds of its formerly fitting home Downtown.
Any direction you look, art is happening.
Throughout blossoming Downtown, artists of all kinds give their work to the world on the walls of Branigan Cultural Center, Big Picture Digital Image Experts and Gallery, Main Street Bistro, Insta-Copy, Las Cruces Community Theatre, Cottonwood Gallery, Mas Art Frame & Art Supplies, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, Quillin-Stephens Gallery, El Paso Electric Company, the Rio Grande Theatre, M. Phillips Fine Art Gallery, the Black Box Theatre, Nopalito’s Galeria, Mesquite Art Gallery, Lundeen Inn of the Arts and Unsettled Gallery.
A jaunt up north will lead you to new shows at Aa Studios and Crimson Pig Gallery.
Due south, New Mexico State University Art Gallery continues “Water! What is it Good For?,” a dual exhibition from Bethany Taylor and Brenda Perry tackling the many- sided concerns over water worldwide. “Water!” remains on display through Feb. 27. The newly opened Desert Roots Artist Gallery and Café (1001 S. Solano Drive) will feature work by regional artists and a schedule of performances in February.
East, make a trip to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, which offers a look at the Land of Enchantment’s rich roots in the land, with rotating, long-term and permanent exhibits filling its halls livestock and local flora populating its expansive grounds.
To the west, galleries and spaces throughout the historic town of Mesilla and residential Mesilla Park – Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery, Café de Mesilla, Tres Manos Weaving, Adobe Patio Gallery, Art Obscura Gallery and more – present shows geared to art lovers of all tastes.
The second and third weekends of the month — Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14 and 20-21 — myriad Mesilla Valley masters will open the doors to their studios, giving all a glimpse into their lives and creative processes far beyond what you seen on the screen or canvas, behind the lens of the camera or propped atop a gallery pedestal.
See where ArtForms member David Jacquez creates his historically rooted Santero (folk) art.
Visit the studio where photographer Storm Sermay puts the final touches on her stark photos of New Mexico landscape.
Spend some time with Kathy Morrow and Rebecca Courtney and learn more about their paintings and clayboards.
The fiber art of Jan Severson.
The sculpture of Tomi LaPierre.
The lapidary and silversmithing of Audrey Worthern.
The paintings and drawings of Robin Weiner Labe and Jean Wilkey.
The ceramics, sculptural work and fine art of John and Kris Northcutt. The oil and acrylic paintings and pastels of Jeri Desrochers, Mary Zawacki, Linda Hagen and C.C. Cunningham.
The beadwork, art jewelry, painting and pottery of Linda Reeder Sanchez, Rhoda Winters, Beth Landers Chiders, Margaret Giralte, Ernest Tujillo, Lana Patterson, Sharm McKim, Susy Rossman and Sandra Craddock – and these few are just a fraction.
You have to try to miss art in February.
So dive right in – visit the ArtForms Association of New Mexico at http:// artformsnm.org, download a schedule of performances, openings and special events, a map to scout a two-weekend studio tour, a list of sponsors — the Las Cruces Bulletin again happily among them — or stop in to the Bulletin offices for a handy, printed event guide.
Now, go, go! Get out there, for the love of art!
Zak Hansen can be reached at zak@lascrucesbulletin. com.