Art is making big strides… and everyone is to thank! The creation of visual art is often considered a solo process—a collaboration between only an artist and his/her imagination and materials. However, this issue of Neighbors magazine reveals that art is a three-pronged experience shared between the producers of art (the artists), the consumers of art (the public), and the advocates of art (museums, businesses, galleries, and organizations). In the Mesilla Valley, these three groups are laying the foundation for a vibrant, ongoing, “artful” community. Art is powerful. It has the ability to elicit personal memories and awaken our senses. Joy, humor, fear, love, anger, the taste of mom’s best recipe, or the memory of the first time you heard that rhythmic Latin beat—art can bring all these emotions to the surface. These pages are filled with the shapes, colors, images, and mediums of some of the most prolific visual artists, organizations, and events in Las Cruces.
The artists showcased here—just a small sampling of the vast array of local talent—work in a variety of art mediums, including wood, photography, ink, paint, found objects, and digital. They are the producers of the art. They invite us, the consumers and advocates, to share in their internal creative process. They are the visionaries behind public art displays and the collections in our museums. Their finished products are featured in our galleries and on our living room walls. They allow for endless discussion at our dinner tables. What did the artist mean when he created this canvas? What is the significance behind the colors and forms?
Fortunately we live in a community that is embracing the importance of an “artful” environment. More galleries and art-related businesses are opening every day. They are popping up in our historic neighborhoods, downtown, and throughout the city. Non-traditional venues are offering unique experiences and blending art with civic and political issues. Our museums and established galleries experiment with distinctively Las Cruces styles and culturally-infused themes. The local Farmers and Crafts Market continues to incubate and highlight a variety of art products. And throughout the city, street art embraces the images of our youth culture.
Thanks to collaborations between city and county administrators, artists, and arts organizations, our community is evolving into a thriving cultural area and a world-class destination known for integrating art, cultural identity, and the natural environments.
In Creative Placemaking, a paper published by The National Endowment for the Arts, researchers note that it is the responsibility of all community sectors—public, private, and non-profit—to “shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood or city and bring diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.” That’s exactly what’s going on right here in our town, where many citizens and groups are firmly focused on ensuring the vitality and continued expression of the arts in our community.
Art touches us all, so enjoy the inspiration found within this edition of Neighbors magazine. In our own ways, we are all producers, consumers, and advocates of the arts.
Irene Oliver-Lewis has 36 years of experience in the art world. She is a producer, director, storyteller, creative dramatist, and writer, as well as a passionate arts educator and advocate. She has served as executive artistic director for the Court Youth Center since 1996, and she was integral to the development of the arts-based Alma d’arte Charter School.
By Irene Oliver-Lewis