Exit Here for Art
New galleries aim to lure art lovers off the interstate to discover
By Marjorie Lilly
"Deming is a place where a lot of people are too
poor to move away," a
woman at the Deming Headlight once said to me,
with a smile. There's been a kind of wry running joke about the minimal
prospects here for decades, a generalized despair.
Don Ross of Gold Street Gallery
with one of his portraits.
There are lots of low-wage employees who hang on by their fingernails,
and retail businesses too often are in the same awkward position. I've
imagined that without the low-paying agricultural work, the town could
some day blow away in one of its March dust storms.
But there are surprising winds of optimism blowing in Deming right now,
because of a few art galleries deciding to open their doors at more or
less the same time.
Some of the gallery owners have a very positive
outlook about making Deming an "art destination" and about how this might transform
the town. These people always mention Deming's location right off I-10
as an obvious asset. "It's so easy to get off and on the interstate," says
Janie Sherman, owner of the new antique shop/gallery called Antelope
Alley and long-time resident. "It's kind of a respite place between
Tucson and El Paso, or between San Diego and Dallas."
These people talk about Deming's warm winter climate
and its interesting history and cultures. They talk about spiffing
up old buildings and opening up appealing outside spaces, as Palma's,
Joe Perk and Antelope Alley have already done. "When the weather is nice we're going to kind
of flow out there," says Sherman.
Sherman also envisions opening up some of the
many alleyways behind buildings where small-time antique dealers and
artists can set up stands. There is charm in Deming
just waiting to be uncovered.
There has always been a kind of grumbling distrust
of development among Deming's more conservative elements. They don't
want growth to spoil the town's rural isolation. People like it that
way. Richard Orona, who with his wife Lyn is starting a gallery called
Galeria 200, says, "I
can sympathize with them. I've lived in Arizona and I know what over-development
The future very much hangs in the balance. "I don't know what it
will take to get a critical mass," says Sherman. "When you
have enough they sustain each other."
But some people are at least beginning to hold their breath.
Gold Street Gallery—Perhaps
the most promising new gallery in Deming is the Gold Street Gallery,
owned by Don Ross and family. "The
reason I came here is that I absolutely love Deming," Ross says. "It's
a diamond in the rough. We're trying to turn Deming into an art destination."
There's a good mix of representational and abstract
paintings as well as sculpture, mostly metal works. Ross himself is
an accomplished artist, and the works of 22 other artists are on exhibit
in his large skylit space, the result of extensive renovation. "There are a tremendous
amount of talented people down here who aren't showing or that show elsewhere," he
Both he and his son are self-taught yet high-quality
artists. Don Ross is especially good at portraiture. One strong piece
is a painting of a miner, Eddie Pedroza, who lives in Mimbres, "a real rough kind
of guy," Ross says. "Eddie is a metaphor for America's new
conquistador, who works in the mines, landfills and rough construction.
His wife saw that painting and she cried for an hour." Ross makes
lots of self-portraits, mostly in acrylic. He also does witty metal
sculptures of insects and construction workers.
Just as, as an artist Ross cares deeply about
the humanity of the people he paints, as a gallery owner he cares about
the human qualities of his artists. He is currently showing Silver
City artist L.C. Crow. "He's
such a fantastic human being," Ross says. "He's donating
all his woodworking equipment to children in Oaxaca." (See the
2005 Desert Exposure.) He has flower paintings
by Sarah Mathewson, who "has a tremendous amount of human spirit.
That's what I saw in her paintings," he says. Zelda Megerdichian
is another artist on exhibit who, besides being a painter of New Mexico
and Caribbean people, paints psychic healers in Mexico. Painter Paul
Forster has sold works to celebrities including Jane Fonda and Burt
Reynolds. On display also are the unconventional pieces of Eric Yanez,
who paints on scraps of wood, ceiling tiles and plywood. "His
background is graffiti and street art," says Ross.
Another unconventional artist is his eight-year-old
daughter, Autumn Rainson. Her paintings have names like "Bug Antlers" and "Giraffe
Cave." He's also showing the works of Deming artist Glenn Hammock
("He's going to be in the Smithsonian," says Ross) and his
wife Sam Feehan ("There's a tremendous amount buried in what she
does-there's a majesty in it"). (See the September and
2005 issues of Desert Exposure.) Other artists
include Carol Kipp of T or C, Valerie Milner of Silver City and Deming
artists Pepe Montoya, Paul Hoylen, Dorothy Palser and Holli Strand,
this issue's cover artist.
One innovative idea Ross has for his gallery is
to offer commissioned portraits by gallery artists. "We will have
different artists according to style," he says. Both he and his
son Sam may do portraits, and he might use Dorothy Palser if someone
would like an animal portrait done, he adds. (112 & 116 S. Gold
St., 546-8200, www.goldstreetgallery.com)
Hearth Fire Gallery—David Hooffmaann
opened his gallery in April because "I thought Deming could use the culture.
I wanted to introduce people to art." He's sponsored a few art classes
and had dreams of "establishing a kind of artists' haven—the upstairs
could be studio space"—although that hasn't yet materialized.
He has a lineup of several very good artists, including himself, and
has sponsored a few art classes in this place.
Your eye may first be caught by the paintings
of Gordon Dipple, who's also an accomplished jeweler and sculptor.
He's made a living by his art for most of his life and retired to Deming
20 years ago. Dipple says he moved here "because I kept having dreams of New Mexico." His
large and assured oil paintings of landscapes and people are full of
Dipple taught for several years at California College of Art in Oakland,
and has exhibited at many places including the Santa Fe Museum of Contemporary
Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, galleries in Los Angeles and Minnesota,
and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy. He's had a shop in
Santa Barbara where he made custom jewelry.
Painter William Corrigan is so in love with abstraction
he doesn't even give names to his paintings. His life is as interesting
as his art: He was a seventh-grade dropout and spent time in and out
of jail north of Boston. But he's been painting for 15 years now. He's
on an "anti-ego
trip," he says: "Most artists say, 'Look what I can do.' I
didn't want to say, 'Look what I can do.'" His paintings are low-key,
but he wants to "bring you into another dimension," he says.
He's shown in Santa Fe and in Martha's Vineyard.
Hearth Fire also has paintings by Columbus artist, singer and playwright
Tim McAndrews, who, with Dipple, has also shown at the Santa Fe Museum
of Contemporary Art. McAndrews' pieces are brooding, almost frieze-like
paintings of people, with a definite theatrical bent.
Hooffmaann's own paintings are what he calls "primitive abstract"—small,
whimsical works with unusually shaped frames. A self-taught artist, he
says of the way he conceptualizes his pieces, "I see it in the paper
first." He's shown in Scottsdale, Silver City, New York City,
Alaska and Florida.
Hearth Fire also exhibits works by Cesar Pacheco, who has terrific murals
at Pepper's supermarket, on the front of Tacos Mirasol and in the local
museum. Works by Debbie Duncan, Marie Garay Reynolds, Ted Specker and
Jim Stresen-Reuter are also shown.
Unfortunately, Hooffmaann now says family issues may force him to sell
or close the gallery. He hopes to find someone to take it over by mid-March.
(121 E. Spruce St., 544-4795)
Galeria 200—Richard and Lyn
Orona have taken over the large space the Teapot Dome bookstore used
to fill. The Oronas had a successful silversmithing business in California
for nine years and want to continue this work in their gallery and
bring in other jewelers. They'll have about 12 hanging artists as well
as textiles, pottery and glasswork, and plan to open Feb. 1.
They see a lot of possibilities in Deming. "It'll take time, but
I think we can pull it off," Richard says. "We can see the
growth happening since we've been here," Lyn adds. "You can
just see it happening right before your eyes." (200 S. Gold St.,
Deming Arts Council—The arts
council started about 20 years ago with a $50,000 gift from a wealthy
California friend of Gordon Dipple's, Kit Tremaine. In February the
council will host for the first time an exhibit of schoolteachers'
art. March is the KOTS camera club, in April they'll show the New Mexico
Watercolorists exhibit, and August will be the Black Range Artists'
show. (100 S. Gold St., 546-3663)
Antiques & Arts
Xi'an Antiquities—It's not
really clear whether Xi'an is a museum or a store or an art gallery.
Owner Tim Weber's place is stuffed with museum-quality artifacts from
China, Tibet and Japan. You can stand for an hour in one spot and ask
questions about things within arm's reach without exhausting what Weber
knows about the history of the objects. He sits outside because there's
no room inside, he says.
Weber usually can be found at his table in front of his shop, doing business
on his laptop or talking to friends, with a few of his exquisite embroidered
textiles or carved pieces behind him. Lately Weber has been getting more
obis and kimonos from Japan, where they have, as he says, a "genius" for
Weber claims he's almost the only person in the US
with such a large number of northern Buddhist objects, which form the
core of his collection. (109 E. Spruce St., 546-9223, Mon.-Sat. 9:30
a.m.-5 p.m. or by appointment)
The Galleria on Eighth—Another
hard-to-define place, this opened just in December and is still a work
in progress. It's housed in an 1888 adobe that's among the oldest in
Deming. The interior decor is lavishly Victorian, but owner Richard
Manning describes the objects he has as "eclectic."
You'll find lots of small decorative pieces—Venetian-style masks, whimsically
creative dolls and other figures—and designer pieces like an ornate
two-foot high horse by Sheila Rhoads. The shop also has antique furniture,
such as an 1830 rosewood highboy and Victorian chairs, costumes from
the Chinese Opera, and European church vestments that date back centuries.
There's a rather anomalous toy store, too, right in the middle of it
all. It's a visually enchanting experience, and everything's for sale.
(200 S. Eighth St., 544-9029)
Antelope Alley Antiques
and Art—This combination
antique store and gallery takes you back a few decades. The style is
mostly "retro" rather than antique, with such a multiplicity
of things it's hard to describe. Artist Donni Rose makes collage paintings,
artsy pins, lamps in a retro style, and framed postcards. The antique
part has potholders made in the 1920s and 1930s, upholstery material
from the 1940s, quilts and chenille bedspreads, a croquet set, ambulance
driver hats from WWI, women's hats from the 1950s, antler handled carving
sets, and paint-by-number paintings. And more! (210 1/2 S. Silver St.,
in alley off Spruce St., between Silver and Gold St., 544-1724)
Finally, don't overlook the Deming
This all-volunteer museum is considered by some people to be the best
historical museum in the Southwest. It can easily take several hours
to view. It chiefly contains artifacts of the Anglo farmers, ranchers
and miners of the early decades of Deming, with a Hispanic room added
about 10 years ago. But the most appealing exhibit may be the two rooms
full of Mimbres pottery found in Luna and Grant Counties. It's a perennially
fascinating record of the early "artsy" residents of the area.
Another fun part of the museum is the hall with replicas of early businesses
in Deming, from a general store to a beauty salon and a dentist's office
to a mortuary with a real coffin. There's a telephone switchboard, old
hospital equipment, a quilt room and a bell collection. Don't miss the
large room full of old dolls, which is easy to miss because it's off
by itself to the left as you enter.
They have a gift shop with a good book section. (301 S. Silver St.,
Deming resident Marjorie Lilly writes the Borderlines column.
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