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Las Cruces artist donates ‘The Majestic Organ Mountains’ bark art to the county


Las Cruces artist Maria Dolores is perhaps best known for her depiction of the Organ Mountains in tree bark.

It began some years ago when she started collecting bark from around her home high up on the East Mesa as she viewed the Organ Mountains. Dolores produced her first piece of “bark art” for an Open Doors art auction benefiting the Jardin de los Niños program.

The positive community response she received from that work inspired Dolores to start thinking of her art in a larger size, she said.

Dolores selected a seven-foot door, “and the challenge began,” she said, as acrylic background was added and many layers of tree bark were attached. Several months later, the completed piece was hung at Salud! de Mesilla, and the unique piece has been shown in many local venues since.

In 2022, Dolores and other local artists were asked to submit works of art for donation to the Third Judicial District Courthouse, 201 W. Picacho Ave., to be included in an art program begun by District Judge Mary Rosner. So, Dolores’ massive bark art is now part of the permanent collection at the county building.

“I am honored to have been accepted by Judge Rosner and the committee, as well as being hung near David Rothermel’s art,” Dolores said.

A New York City native, Dolores has been a resident of Las Cruces since April 1, 1984. Her work has exhibited multiple times at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, Cutter Gallery, Doña Ana Arts Council and the Frame & Art Center.

“I never dreamed of being an artist,” said Dolores, who started taking art classes in the mid-1990s, after retiring as director of sales and marketing for the Hilton Inn in Las Cruces.

With a number of blank canvasses around her house, Dolores said she is about to begin a new art project, creating two- and three-piece artworks that likely will center around her love of animals. She is also contemplating creating more art made with found objects, including bird feathers, Dolores said.