- Learn - Make - Connect -
On November 1st, Cruces Creatives showcased a new art gallery and an open-mic night for the public. The art exhibition, “The Distance Was Very Frightening” by artist Mónica Martínez-Díaz, was a beautiful and contemplative work on love, and it was an honor to be one of the first to view it. In addition to the main art exhibit, this Art Ramble also featured a holiday tree, decorated with miniature paintings and hand-made ornaments that Cruces Creatives put up for auction to raise funds. Combined with the fantastic music from the open-mic, November’s Art Ramble was fantastic.
“The Distance Was Very Frightening,” incorporating captioned photographs and a pink-and-red color scheme, was dedicated to the duality of love and how people tend to express it. This was explained by Martínez-Díaz when I had the brief pleasure of talking about the exhibit with her during the event. Martínez-Díaz expressed that the collection was inspired by an observation of how the vocabularies for love, hate, and obsession tend to be very similar, to the point of being near-interchangeable, and so the artist engaged in a study of how phrases could be switched around (for example: “This romance feels like sadness / this sadness feels like romance”) to mean something different despite using the same words. The second set, pictures of an arm in different positions, contributed to this notion in a more abstract way that is better left to the viewer to decide. Using the colors of pink and red on the walls and on the picture frames, the exhibit takes advantage of the viewer’s associations around Valentine’s Day to get them thinking about romance as they look at the art.
“Every explicit duality is an implicit unity.”
The holiday tree was also a thing of beauty, decorated with miniature paintings in wooden frames and stuffed hearts decorated with beads. Each ornament was hand-crafted by a volunteer at Cruces Creatives, making the holiday tree near priceless when one considers the love and time poured into it. Bids, starting at $200, came in to buy the tree for one’s own home, a treasure that will grace the lucky buyer’s house for years to come. Even for those not interested in a holiday tree, there were a few jokes and remarks that each ornament could make a gift to friends and family, accomplishing all shopping in one fell swoop. No matter what the winner of the tree does with it, it was certainly gorgeous to look at as it stood, glittering, in Cruces Creatives’ lobby.
The music, of course, was amazing as it always is when we gather together at the Cruces Creatives stage, featuring folk songs, country songs, and a few more modern songs at the very end of the night from various singers. After the deep-contemplation and appreciation brought on by Martínez-Díaz’s exhibition, it was relaxing to be able to sit and listen to songs sung from the heart, both traditional songs and original pieces, whether I was in front of the stage or in the lobby talking to other attendees.
Cruces Creatives has again kept its record of being able to create a homey environment while showing off various kinds of art. I look forward to next month’s Art Ramble when the feelings of the holidays have really begun to settle in, and when, for those who celebrate it, the need for a holiday tree no longer seems so far off (at least, of course, for the few of us who have not started to celebrate since the end of October 31st).
First Friday Art Ramble December 6!
December 6 is the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for the Art Ramble! This month’s event features paintings by Michael Ponce, the all-original open mic, a holiday tree auction, and youth entrepreneurs from Kids Can, who will be selling holiday gifts that they’ve made.
Private Studio Possibility
Cruces Creatives is looking into opening a satellite site to help serve our creative community by offering private, lockable studios that members could access 24/7. The Private Studio Program would also include a membership to Cruces Creatives. If you might be interested in a private studio—for art, crafting, entrepreneurship, or more—please share your input at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HRCNK76.
Open Day in the Kids Room November 30
For parents and guardians who’d like to do some holiday shopping without the kids--and who’d like their kids to have fun and educational activities in the meanwhile—there’s an open day in the Cruces Creatives Kids Room on November 30. Under the supervision of STEAM Team instructors, kids can make stop-motion animation videos, computer programs that interact with the physical world, sculptures using 3D-printing pens, and more. The cost is $10/hr per child, and materials are included. For more information or to register, visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3606920.
Maker Days Call for Instructors
From March 24 to March 27, 2020, Cruces Creatives will be hosting Maker Days: family-friendly programs where parents, grandparents, kids, cousins—the whole family-- can learn and make together. Sessions on each Maker Day are organized in three-hour blocks: 9:00 a.m to noon, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. If you have a skill you’d be interested in sharing during a Maker Day session—any form of making is welcome!—you can contact program organizer Sandy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3631004 for more information.
Here are a few plans in the works:
Administrative Assistant - Lindsey McDonald has been approved through the Workforce Connections On-The-Job Training Program and will be starting next week!
Print Order - New trifolds and Lea W. - S. business cards have been ordered. They should be in the first week of December.
Finances - As we near the end of the year expect Lea Wise-Surguy and Margaret Neill during Tuesday and Thursday evenings to hunker down to wrap up 2019 finances and get ready to start 2020's.
Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small - This past Friday Lea Wise-Surguy was able to meet Congresswoman Torres Small during a meeting with the Arrowhead Center. She was able to share the great impacts our Job Shop has had and shared future plans to grow Job Shop and eventually our facility. The news was well received.
Cruces Creatives is constantly changing, growing, and becoming a better place because of the great work you're doing. Here are a few updates to know about:
BRB Sign - There is now a "Be Right Back" sign for the front desk so if you need to give a tour, use the restroom, or walk away from the desk for more than a quick minute you can have a sign to welcome folks and let them know you'll be back soon. It is located above the Lost and Found area.
Thanksgiving - This upcoming week we're closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the holiday. Have a wonderful time with your families!
Thanks for the incredible giving and work you do to make Cruces Creatives an amazing space for learning, making, and community.
This week a special thank you to volunteer couple Tricia and Colin Salazar. Tricia is an active monitor, our lead volunteer event coordinator, and helps with marketing. Colin has been working behind the scenes making our website more user-friendly and appealing. This past week they worked together to make our website even better!
Thank you to our fun-loving, hard-working, maker couple, Tricia and Colin, for helping make Cruces Creatives!
Charitable Crafters and Jardín de Los Niños
The beneficent elves of the Charitable Crafters are hard at work this season making holiday presents for the children at the Jardín de Los Niños shelter, and you can help!
To make sure that every kid at Jardín de Los Nińos gets a present, volunteers will be cutting patterns, sewing, stuffing, and decorating stuffed animals at Cruces Creatives on Saturday, November 23, from 9:00 a.m. until all the stuffed animals are finished (http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3421444). You can help even if you have no previous sewing experience—there are roles for everyone. If you’re free this Saturday, you can join a great team and do a good thing.
Extra-Special First Friday on December 6
The First Friday ramble on December 6 will be an extra special one! As always, there will be a stellar gallery exhibit—this one featuring the work of Michael Ponce—and an all-original open mic, and at the next First Friday ramble, there will be two bonus attractions. Thanks to Dave and Mary Ann Robinson, who donated the holiday tree back to Cruces Creatives for more fundraising, you can still take home the tree and over 35 one-of-a-kind miniature paintings and textile ornaments created by local artists. If you’re looking for holiday gifts, you can also support youth entrepreneurs from the Kids Can program, who have developed their own products that you can buy straight from the kids at Cruces Creatives during the art ramble.
Facility Updates and Special Activities
Did you know we've had a guest intern from NMSU's Department of English? Emily Joy Rosa has been attending events and writing blog posts about Cruces Creatives events to help new folks understand the activities and community at Cruces Creatives.
In case you didn't catch the posts when they came out:
The Branigan Library Mural
Reflections: The Mesa Art Show
Reflections: The Basic Wood-Shop Safety Training
Thanks Emily Joy, your writings help bring out the ways folks can get involved and how meaningful it feels to part of the creative community!
Open Studio Art Sessions Starting!
Beginning December 10 and continuing every second Tuesday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and again from 6:30-8:30 p.m., there will be open studio art sessions at Cruces Creatives! The sessions are open to the public at a drop-in rate of $5 (free to members), and the sessions offer assistance from artists Mary Diesel and Mike Kling and a wide range of donated art supplies. For more information or to register, visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3620844.
HAZLO Program Update
Starting this Friday, a group of students from Las Montañas Charter High School will be working at Cruces Creatives to create wooden furniture and textiles for a clinic at their school. Special thanks to Steve Kanim for volunteering as a woodworking mentor and Dina Honeycutt for volunteering as a textile mentor. This project is part of the HAZLO Program, which provides funding and mentors for experiential learning projects that students propose. More information, student applications, and mentor applications are available at www.hazlofoundation.org.
Admin work was busy as usual as new programs were drafted, new Job Shops have been explored, and many an activity happened at Cruces Creatives. Here are a few plans in the works:
Yearly Party - Our yearly Appreciation Party is coming up on December 7th and plans are underway. If this is your first Appreciation Party, this event is part Thanksgiving, part Holidays, part appreciation to our volunteers, donors, members and supporters. Food and awesome people make this one of the best events all year.
Planning - If you'd like to help with this year's event making food, bringing in music, or helping with thank you gifts, please attend this Wednesday's 6pm meeting at Cruces Creatives. If you'd like to help, say by bringing in a dish to share for the party but can't make the planning meeting, send a message through Slack or email to Lea.
Slideshow - Each year a slideshow of photos helps remind us of the amazing community, events, and projects that have happened. As this slideshow is being prepared, do you have images you think should be shown? If you do please Slack or email those images to Lea.
Secretary - Josh starts this Tuesday and will in weekly Tuesday through Friday, 9am to 6pm. This Tuesday he'll be learning the software systems and starting his first tasks around the building.
Administrative Assistant - Workforce Connections has approved the Administrative Assistant position for Lindsey McDonald. Unfortunately the Executive Director position did not go through, but I'm excited to get Lindsey in full-time to help with Job Shop and facility management.
Other Positions - Given the ED position did not go through we are looking at other possible positions Workforce may be able to cover.
Alternatives - Do you know other programs, grants, or opportunities CC can use to build an administrative team? If you do please send Lea a message.
New Programs in Research:
Private Studios - Numbers have been calculated and a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss possible lease agreements.
Proclamation - Cruces Creatives was honored as part of this month's "Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande Awareness Month" for the work and support of Henry Hartig's and Raquel Madrigal's "By the Dam" mural painting and for the MESA Art Show. You can see Cruces Creatives being mentioned at City Council starting at 15:40.
Donation Area - Extra donation materials have started to leave CC. If there are materials you'd like to add to your areas please start picking those materials out. Between Josh and Lindsey our donation area should start clearing out and a new system put in place.
Finances - Congrats to the finance team for putting together the first quarter of the STEM Outreach programing reimbursement invoice! It has been approved and CC will be moving forward with our great STEAM programs!
New Programs in Research:
Key - The key for the bathroom paper has gone missing. If you happen around the building, in a pants pocket, or the freezer, please give it to the front monitor.
Project Room Art Show - As one of the shortest shows Cruces Creatives has hosted, the NMSU OutsmART Día de los Muertos Extinct Species Retable Exhibition will start coming down this week. Parents will be stopping in to pick up their child's retablos. If a parent comes in during your shift please help them identify the Project Room and invite them for a tour of the space if this is their first time in.
Events - When starting a monitor shift it can helpful to check out that days events on the online calendar.
This week a special thanks goes out to Margaret Neill for the hard work she's been doing as Cruces Creatives' Treasurer! Did you know Margaret comes in twice a week to do finances, and manages front monitor duties at the same time? She's helped Cruces Creatives get up-to-date and organized, and works weekly to make sure we stay on top of finances. Thank you Margaret!
Día de Los Muertos Extinct Species Retablo Exhibition
Through November 11, you can visit the project room at Cruces Creatives and experience a collection of paintings and collage-on-metal that area youth created in reference to the traditional style of Mexican Retablo ex-voto paintings. The children created the works as part of the New Mexico State University Art Museum’s “OutsmART” children’s workshop series, held in partnership with the Southwest Environmental Center, on the theme of extinct species. The workshop and the exhibit at Cruces Creatives are part of the binational project, “Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande.”
Kids Create Open Build Day Nov. 30
On November 30, there’ll be an after-Thanksgiving open build day for kids at Cruces Creatives. With supervision from makerspace instructors, school-aged kids can work on jewelry making, stop-motion animation, fiber arts, cardboard creations, and much more! Parents are welcome to use this time to take a post-holiday break or do some secret shopping, while your kids learn some new building skills. Early bird pricing of $8/hr is available until Nov. 23. For more information or to register, visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3606920.
Handmade Paper Available in Painting and Drawing Classes
Makerspace member Trevor Bush has been creating lovely hand-made paper, and he’s generously made a supply available for free for participants in the Cruces Creatives painting and drawing classes (http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3621204 and http://www.crucescreatives.org/event-3621219) . It’ll be exciting to see their beautiful artwork on such a lovely background as Trevor’s paper!
On Friday, September 27th, the Paint-by-Numbers Mural event at the Branigan Library took off with a bang, being met with well over sixty volunteers. The mural, funded by the Rumphius Foundation and designed by local artist Eugenia “AO” Carmona, began the weekend as a white wall with black outlines of images, like a giant coloring book. As the event continued, the outlines sprang to life as numerous community members of all ages grabbed brushes and added blues, browns, greens, oranges, reds, tans—a whole palette of the agricultural and natural colors in Las Cruces. Thanks to a numbering system that matched paint colors with particular outlines on the mural, everyone knew exactly what colors to paint where, so scores of people, many of whom had never met before, were able to work together almost immediately.
The mural held the attention of a multitude from the very beginning of the event. I arrived Friday at the library parking lot at 10:20 AM to find it was completely full as many had showed up right away, excited to get started. After finding a spot and walking to the mural, I went to get supplies to paint with the rest of the large group already painting. The supply area was in the shade close to the library, where the paints were all lined up on one table and the boxes full of paintbrushes were on another across from it. There I was met by a woman I would later discover was the artist, AO, who was there to assign attendees with paint and a specific number that the color aligned with. There were a few others around the supply area who welcomed people as they came in and helped to get newcomers settled with a brush and sent to AO for paint.
I was first assigned Color #21, a rich red for the chile pepper in the middle of the wall. I immediately got to painting with a large brush, soon to be replaced with a slightly smaller one that would fill in the edges. I was later joined in my chile-painting by a woman who told me she was a sign-language interpreter with a class from Oñate High School who were attending the mural painting as a fieldtrip. I would be able to talk to another woman with the same group later on in the day, and in both conversations, they discussed how imperative it is that students participate in art and similar creative outlets, particularly in a community context. Once I was done painting for the day and was helping clean or watching the mural progress, it was great to be able to see the class paint with such dedication and care.
Before finishing painting, I had the opportunity to fill in Color #25, a blue-tinted gray used for parts of the ear and mouth of the dog that was in the middle of the mural next to the chiles. There was something deeply relaxing about the process of painting, lulled by the sun as one either stood out in the bright New Mexican heat or sat on sunbaked sidewalks to paint the lower half of the wall. It was wonderful to be part of something bigger, especially when I was able to sign my name on top of the wall with everyone else’s signatures.
Of course, there was a lot more effort poured into the mural than just painting. Several volunteers spent hours focused on washing the used paintbrushes, sitting under the shade of the library building and using a combination of water and hand-sanitizer to clean off the paint. One of them was a woman named Marie, and after I was done painting, we were able to talk about the event. Both of us were excited about it and the value it has for the public. She told me that she had not been able to paint anything on the mural but stated that she enjoyed watching just as much if not more.
The volunteers who dedicated so much time to making sure paintbrushes were properly scrubbed for Saturday and Sunday’s use were truly some of the most valuable people there as they worked cheerfully to get the task done, talking and joking amongst each other. In between work to address other logistical needs, the mural designer AO would scrub brushes too. As for Marie, she stayed until all of the brushes had been completed before leaving. I hope the volunteers were able to sign the wall as well no matter whether they painted, as their help was incredibly valuable to completing the mural.
I met a few other new people as well, such as a student pursuing a master’s degree in physical therapy who showed me how to take a panorama. Later in the afternoon, a couple of the students who had been in the Oñate class were so kind as to bring back cupcakes for the few people who were still working at the mural at that point, which were all quickly eaten. All of those attending the event seemed to have a great time whether they had known each other previously or not, and the environment was constantly convivial and pleasant.
The mural was such a success on Friday that it had to end early at around 2:45 PM as Friday’s huge turn-out brought some concern that there might not be enough blank wall-space for all of Saturday and Sunday. By the time people had left, the wall showed an incredible amount of progress in comparison to how it started, proving just how much can be done when passionate people gather together.
I was able to stay longer, helping AO clean up with a couple of other individuals until approximately 4:30 PM. This mostly consisted of putting out damp rag towels to dry, organizing brushes by size to get them prepared for the next day, packing up boxes, and eventually moving items into a truck to drive them to Cruces Creatives so AO could get started on mixing paints for the next day. This process of cleaning up, according to the artist, is important in the same way it is to have a warm up and cool down when working out; this was part of the creation process just as much as putting paint on the wall. This statement reflected how vital it was that there were people willing to work throughout the mural-painting on cleaning the paintbrushes, as well as a few volunteers additional to myself who were willing to help clean-up after most had left.
I spoke with AO about various subjects off and on throughout the event. I was first able to talk with her about art throughout history and its changing connotations and levels of prestige and focus in society, where she discussed that mural-art has become very popular lately. AO discussed that she saw her art as a business that she is now trying to build up, at first having started with paintings and now primarily focusing on murals. Later on, she mentioned that while she had helped others with paint-by-number murals before, this would be her first time leading her own and she was floored by the amount of people who were willing to come and contribute to it in just the first day.
While cleaning up, AO told me that her inspiration for the piece came from the prompt word, agriculture. As she started the design, what she wanted the mural to look like slowly came to her, being influenced by folk art and a native tribe in Mexico. With its depiction of plowed fields, rain, and various vegetables among other beautiful images, it is easy to see how that which influenced AO is found in the work itself. The mural depicts not only the land but the hands that nurture and utilize it, and looking at it reminded me to be thankful for how much I benefit from the agricultural work of others.
The Branigan Mural is a gorgeous addition to downtown, a bright reminder of our community and our environment. Over 300 people came to help finish it, truly making it a public art piece. Whether painting or cleaning, everyone who participated were highly-valuable to the creative process. Speaking with AO made it clear how grateful she was for the huge turn-out as it blew away her expectations, especially regarding how much was done in such a short amount of time at the start of the project.
Whether you helped out that weekend or not, if you haven’t yet seen the finished project in person, drive down to the Branigan Library to view such a wonderful piece of art – and maybe check out a few books while you’re there!