When a mean haboob swept across Rodeo, New Mexico, last summer, it left a half-inch of sand at the historic Chiricahua Gallery with a layer of dust that settled atop cabinets, on walls and on some of the artwork.
“It was a pretty awful sight,” said gallery coordinator Linda Jakse, who was the first on the scene. “Everything inside looked brown and as I stepped forward, I noticed a distinct set of footprints in the sand – mine!”
But old galleries like this one, don’t easily give up. It wasn’t long before local volunteers and members arrived. They came armed with five vacuum cleaners, dust cloths and big brooms. “It took us most of a day to get things back to normal, back to show condition,” Jakse said. “We all just pushed our sleeves up and joined in the cleaning.”
You might say that neither a mean haboob or a “pesky” pandemic could stop their mission: To bring talented artists together and to share their creativity and passion for art with the community.
“We know the pandemic has shuttered doors over the past year,” said Julie Prior-Magee, board member and vice president of the non-profit, cooperative. “‘So, The Art Goes On’ theme is an important message for us and we hope to remind the community -- ‘Hey, we’re still here!’ We’re celebrating, and to relay just how important art is for all of us.”
Prior-Magee said the Holiday Show, set for Nov. 13-14. will highlight 35 artists who create a diverse slate of work including photography, Southwest landscape and nature-inspired paintings, fiber and tapestry art; unique jewelry designs, in addition to an exciting mix of ceramics, pottery and other handcrafted items.
“There will always be challenges,” said Prior-Magee, who oversees projects at the historic building, “But since spring 2020, we have been closed, temporarily re-opened and then closed again. So we’re looking ahead to a brighter tomorrow.”
Jakse, who hangs new work and updates displays year-round, is excited to show visitors the interior renovations too. “When our doors were closed, we were able to focus on interior projects, and that was making the best use of our time.”
According to Jakse and Prior-Magee, it’s the resiliency of the arts community that keeps the gallery moving forward. The November Holiday Show weekend will feature a line-up of local musicians. “For board members, it’s about bringing the arts and cultural events to this little community,” Prior-Magee said. “We hope to highlight the diversity we have among artists and crafters, as well as the work of three newly juried artists -- Di Massey, Diane DeLaney and Alice Wakefield.
Massey, of Animas, New Mexico, is known for her fanciful paintings of farm animals and items she turns into one-of-a-kind sculptures. Wakefield has completed 300 hand-knitted projects over the years and draws her inspiration from 40 years of travel and time spent in Abiquiu and Taos, New Mexico; Alaska; California; and Arizona.
DeLaney, a native of Florida, is known for transforming raw clay into hand-layered “Totem” sculptures ideal for gardens. Her interest in art began in photography and oil painting, and more recently a move to Arizona where the Chiricahua Mountains has inspired her work in sculptures layered in rich, color schemes.
The Holiday Show invites neighbors, visitors, and artists to share in the work of the Chiricahua Art Gallery. “We have a handful of artists who were part of this gallery from the beginning,” Jakse said. “We have come through many challenges together – and the ‘Art Goes On.’”
The event will feature a raffle-drawing to win a vintage, handcrafted quilt by artisan Trudy Kimble. Raffle tickets are $3 each or four for $10 through Nov. 13. All proceeds go to the Gallery Scholarship for Youth. Tickets available now through Nov. 13 at the Gallery. See www.chiricahuagallery.net