The Las Cruces Arts Fair, presented by the Doña Ana Arts Council on March 17 – 19, is the biggest opportunity of the year for art lovers to add to their collections, not only with works by local artists, but by over 100 artists from across North America. The Las Cruces Convention Center will be filled with art for the beginner to serious collector, along with hand-crafted jewelry, clothing, furniture, ceramics, and much more.
The Las Cruces Arts Fair kicks off its seventh year Friday, March 17, at 6 p.m. with a gala opening. Friday’s activities include a Quick Draw Contest, where artists will have 90 minutes to create a painting or drawing based on a theme to be revealed that evening. Once complete, visitors may peruse the art for 15 minutes, and then bid on their favorites during a live auction, with the artists and DAAC splitting the proceeds.
Friday evening and all day Saturday will feature the ambient Flamenco guitar and percussion music of Euterpe, back for the third year, providing fabulous music in the cantina for those taking a break from shopping.
Collectors of fine art will find hard decisions facing them with the wide range of styles, mediums, and sizes of work available. Painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and drawing will all be represented, by artists you already know and appreciate as well as artists you will discover that weekend.
A name known by many art lovers in New Mexico is Amado Peña Jr. of Santa Fe. His colorful representations of the Southwest are in many collections. Peña says, “It has been said that my work is the essence of the Southwest, with bold colors, forms, and dynamic composition that capture a vision of a people, a land, and its art.”
James Tsoodle expresses his Kiowa and Taos Pueblo ethnicity in his acrylic on canvas paintings, portraying the north and south plains warriors as they were in the 1800s. Tsoodle explains, “I believe an artist can best portray the image by being well versed in the subject matter. Hopefully if I achieve this, others will be able to see the passion and power in not only the image but the pigment and flow and composition of the painting.”
If Southwestern art doesn’t match your style, visit Wendy Wilkerson for art with an Asian flair. She paints with gouache on rice paper using metallic gouache details. Wilkerson says about the themes she paints into her works, “The various images come from the diverse cultural experiences and relationships in my life: the crow is my friend from childhood; the tree is a symbol of life — so many things that surround us.”
Kandy Tate’s work is part of private collections in U.S., Egypt and Europe, has hung in the White House, and has been used in movies, TV series, and on CD covers. She works in many mediums, including painting and drawing in an impressionistic style.
If you’re interested in three-dimensional art, Jack Charney is one of the many artists whose work you can peruse. He creates hand-formed polychromatic functional and sculptural earthenware created using a series of forms. He was raised in Spain and has been a working artist for 25 years. Another sculptor is Kay Primer, who offers bronzes and resin cast pieces. Her pieces often focus on Western themes or wildlife and begin with clay sculptures that end up as bronzes through the lost wax casting method.
Greg Gowan also creates sculptures, but using a very different method. His pieces are made of copper, brass, bronze, and stainless steel, using metal spinning and hand-forming methods combined with welding to create sculptures, both abstract and with Native American themes.
If you enjoy the music of Euterpe, who will be performing Flamenco guitar and percussion music at the arts fair, expand the musical portion of your art-filled weekend by attending a special performance by the National Institute of Flamenco of Albuquerque, entitled ¡Yjastros en Vivo!, at the Rio Grande Theatre Saturday, March 18, at 8 p.m. The highly refined performance by the professional Flamenco ensemble will combine innovative dances with live musical and vocal accompaniment that leaves audiences spellbound. Tickets are $15 (for students and seniors 60 +) or $25 adults, general admission seating at riograndetheatre.com or 523-6403.
Tickets for the Las Cruces Arts Fair are $8 and are available at the door or online at daarts.org. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Hours are Friday, March 17, from 6 – 9 p.m.; Saturday, March 18, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, March 19, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are valid for any two days of the event. The Las Cruces Convention Center is located at 680 E. University Avenue.