18 • AUGUST 2017
ON THE WALL • MIKE COOK
Painting the Problem Away Laurel Weathersbee creates watercolor wonder
or Las Cruces artist Laurel Weathersbee, painting with watercolors “is like nothing else. “It is gorgeous, transparent, sparkling,” Weathersbee said. “I love the freshness and the intensity of watercolors.” Little wonder that Weathersbee has been a member of the southern chapter of the New Mexico Watercolor Society Laurel Weathersbee for more than a dozen years, and has been an active board member for most of that time. A Nebraska native, Weathersbee has been an artist all her life, but her favorite tool as a young child wasn’t a paintbrush, it was a pair of scissors, cutting art out of catalogs. At age 40, she launched an art degree at Park University in Parkville, Missouri. She lived in Kansas City and Dallas before she had her husband moved to Las Cruces 14 years ago to be closer to family. Now 65, her love for the Southwest is evident in her art. “Anything New Mexico turns me on,” Weathersbee said. She used to favor landscapes but has found herself doing more floral work recently – large arrangements of brightly colored flowers in Native American pottery, including the black-and-white Mimbres design. In addition to flowers, “quilts have always figured largely in my work,” she said. She also includes birds, along with “Southwest subjects of all kinds.” “Undisciplined describes me in just about any way you care to mention,” Weathersbee said. “I’m a very creative problem solver, and paintings are prob-
New Mexico Watercolor Society has active southern chapter
“Canyon Light” is one of Weathersbee’s favorites. (Photos courtesy Laurel Weathersbee)
lems, so I love that.” Weathersbee loves to use watercolor paper but also torn paper – pages that have been torn out of something else. One of her favorites is a 40-inch-wide work on torn paper she calls “Canyon Light.” She also sculpts, using found objects. While you “have to draw” to paint, Weathersbee said, there is a difference. “Painting is entirely expressive,” she said. “Drawing is technical.” And while Weathersbee often uses a photograph for reference, she doesn’t copy photos to create her paintings. “I pull things from different places and assemble them.” Being fully alive in the present, “that’s what real expression is,” she said. “The best paintings are the ones that just happen, that come up out of your guts because they’re not edited by your left brain.” But she’s not too sentimental if they sell. “It’s just paper. It’s about the process.” In addition to working at her home studio, Weathersbee teaches several art workshops and also teaches watercolor classes in El Paso. “I encourage creative people of all kinds to engage with the public. The world needs more
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The New Mexico Watercolor Society (NMWS) was founded in 1969. A southern New Mexico chapter (NMWS-SC) was created in 2001. There are about 350 members statewide, and regular meetings are held in Albuquerque and Las Cruces. NMWS-SC has about 100 members, and holds two exhibits each year – during For the Love of Art Month in February and a spring juried show. The chapter has two exhibitions in Las Cruces right now: one at the Southwest Environmental Center, 275 N. Main St., and the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road. NMWS-SC meetings are held on the second Sunday of the month, September through May, and begin at 2 p.m. in the crafts room of the Good Samaritan Retirement Home administration building, 3011 Buena Vida Circle. The next NMWS-SC meeting is 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, and will include a demonstration by Las Cruces artist Shelley Black.
NMWS was founded “to elevate the stature of watercolor as an important painting medium and to educate the public to this effort,” NMWS-SC member Laurel Weathersbee said. “Our ultimate goal is to make New Mexico known nationally for its watercolor artists.” The society’s monthly newsletter is called “Brushstrokes.” Annual memberships are $20 for students and associate members, $40 for active members, $100 for contributing members and $500 for patrons. The state society and the southern chapter welcome new members, Weathersbee said. “We have to touch the public and engage them. It’s so important for artists to find ways to engage the public so that they know who we are and what we do.” For more information, visit www.nmwatercolorsociety.org. The mailing address is New Mexico Watercolor Society – SC, PO Box 1571, Las Cruces, NM 88004-157.
A Visit with Dale Evans ‘The Way You Ride the Trail,’ Chautauqua in Capitan
ale Evans, known as “Queen of the West” in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, will be portrayed in a Chautauqua presented by Kay Sebring-Roberts Kuhlmann at Capitan Public Library’s First Friday Program, at 7 p.m. Aug. 4. This Chautauqua is presented courtesy of the New Mexico Humanities Council and the Friends of the Capitan Public Library. The Chautauqua title, “The Way You Ride the Trail,” comes from Dale Evan’s most famous song, “Happy Trails to You,” composed as a theme song for her husband, Roy Rogers, known as “King of the Cowboys.” Dale appeared with Roy in 28 Western movies, as well as in the popular weekly television show, “The Roy Rogers Show,” during the 1950s and early ‘60s. Both Dale and Roy got their start in show business as radio performers before they ever met each other. Together they recorded music albums, made live guest appearances around the country and raised seven children together. The couple later hosted a musical variety television show. Dale also wrote inspirational books, beginning with Angel Unaware, written in the voice of Roy’s and Dale’s daughter Robin, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Dale authored or co-authored 26 more books before her death in
2001. “At The Way You Ride the Trail Chautauqua, the audience will learn about Dale’s early life on her way to fame,” Kuhlmann said. “She was a trailblazer for women in a number of ways. This performance will offer reminiscences of a special era in movies and early television, especially for audience members who are Baby Boomers and upward. They will also find out some surprising insights into Dale’s life.” A resident of Ruidoso, Kuhlmann is the author of over 50 history-based plays. Of these, many are one-woman shows or Chautauquas. Also a trailblazer in her own right, Kuhlmann is continually adding to her cast of woman portrayals. Solo stage characters portrayed by Kuhlmann range from first ladies: Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacki Kennedy and Hillary Clinton; to entertainers: Patsy Cline and Dale Evans; to pioneers: Santa Fe Trail Diarist Marian Sloan Russell; to traitors: Mildred Gillars aka Axis Sally; and first-in-their fields such as dentist Lucy Hobbs Taylor and U.S. Treasurer Georgia Neese Gray. Kuhlmann’s larger cast plays are on topics ranging from Civil War themes, World War II homefront, and the Harvey Girls. While touring the U.S. for twelve years with her historical characters, Kuhl-
mann appeared in seven presidential libraries. For the New Mexico Centennial in 2012, Kuhlmann was the artistic director of History Theatre Project of N.M. Statehood. This project consulted with communities around the state to create original theater depicting people, places and events during the years 1850 through 1950. In Lincoln County, Kuhlmann wrote, directed and performed in a play “Camp Capitan 1940.” The play was based on an actual residential work camp for young women located near Baca Campground in Lincoln County. Kuhlmann’s early careers included working as an investigator for the Department of Labor and teaching English in Japan. From 2000 to 2007, she served as director of the Center for Women’s Leadership and the Woman Chautauqua Institute at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri. Since 2007, “Capitan” Kuhlmann has been on the leadership faculty at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. She is now tenured faculty and a college academic advisor to cadets. After the Chautauqua, refreshments will be served. For more information call Capitan Public Library at 575-354-3035. The library is located at 101 E. 2nd Street, Capitan. Visit online at: www.capitanlibrary.org OR www. capitanlibrary.blogspot.com.