MARCH 2018 • 7
EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK • ELVA K. ÖSTERREICH
Blossoming in the Desert It’s All About the Story
t is the year of the story, apparently. Across our mountainous desert world, on walls, on big screens and in coffee houses, stories live to be told and heard. I look at the artwork around southern New Mexico and I see stories everywhere. A recent show at the Doña Ana Arts Council reflected so many different stories and pathways. The artists’ group, the Insighters, told stories in multiple mediums, in so many ways. A bronze statue, similar to the mermaid in Copenhagen bay, but then, the tag names the piece “MS” and reality sets in. The statue is an absolutely accurate depiction of the disease capturing the melting degeneration and the sadness in one painful and simple rendition. Four books, by Sherry Doil-Carter, stretch from top to bottom of the wall. Side by side “Clouds, Flowers & Sacred Messages,” “Ancient Records,” “Random Messages” and “Bits and Pieces,” each fold accordion style and tell the stories as titled through pieces of paper and other media asking creative consideration of the reader. While the Insighters exhibit no longer graces the walls at the Arts Council gallery space, it still resonates with the creative arts across the area. Storytellers of all types and dispositions make our area rich in a culture that shares a common drive to listen and look at things more deeply than the surface. Silver City is the most recent community to add an art walk event to its monthly slate of events beginning 3 to 7 p.m. on March 24. Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces have been holding the evenings
opening feature of the Las Cruces International Film Festival March 7-11. More than 150 films, both feature length and short, will flash across the screens at Allen Theatres Cineport 10 in Las Cruces during festival days, several of them New Mexico based stories. Legendary animator Ralph Bakshi also chose to live in New Mexico, near Silver City, for the beauty and the people, whom he likes. Bakshi, whose story can be found in this issue, began before there were computers and cartoons were created by hand, painstakingly cel by cel. But even Bakshi says, “how you do it wasn’t the issue, what you choose to do is more important than how. I don’t see that hand drawn is any better than today, its about what you choose to make, (the story you choose to tell).” Bakshi’s work too is featured at the Las Cruces Film Festival, his classic animation “Wizards” and “American Pop” will be screened on March 9 and he will be on hand for Q&A following the shows. Other film festivals celebrate stories in southern New Mexico, including the Desert Light Film Festival in Alamogordo on Friday April 27, inviting youth from across the state to submit their films; and The Borderlands Film Festival, Oct. 2-7, held in Las Cruces and other southern New Mexico venues, celebrating the uniqueness of the world we live in, and this year’s theme, “women.” Stories themselves are cropping up in small venues too, the tradition of gathering around the fire, um … gathering in the coffee house, to share tales and
time together. Tranquilbuzz in Silver City hosts story tellers for the Words and Music series from 2-4 p.m. every third Saturday of the month all year. Silver City co-poet laureate Beate Sigriddaughter arranges readers for the event which is usually followed by an open mic opportunity for those attending. Beck’s Coffee in Las Cruces hosts a second-Tuesday-of-themonth “Story Slam,” inviting people to join in and share real-life experience along the lines of “The Moth” and “Risk!” story telling podcasts. Leave your judgements at the door and be prepared to hear all kinds of language. Each month has a theme of its own and audience-chosen winners get prizes. You don’t have to look far to find stories; they are in your backyard, in your heart and all around you. They make the world bigger and closer, a thread of connection, weaving through community. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman
for a while now. Alamogordo Downtown Nites begin at 6 p.m. the third Friday of the month; the T or C Art Hop also begins at 6 p.m. only on the second Saturday of the month; and Las
Cruces Downtown Art Ramble starts at 5 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. These events, and others like them, offer the opportunity to explore the stories of these communities, and get in some friendly chatter as well. Some of it may be political, sure, but it is a politics that generates thought and conversation rather than violence. In January, the story of the braceros, Mexican workers brought to the U.S. to work the fields from 1942 to 1964, was displayed, and told, in Deming at the Historical Museum and the Deming Art Center. Sculpture by Diana LeMarbe and paintings by Jeri Desrochers supported stories told by Raymond Cobos and others about the days of the braceros. The story/display goes to the Las Cruces Branigan Cultural Center from June through October if you missed it in Deming. Storytelling on film also inundates the amazing landscapes of southern New Mexico, attracting film crews here and film festivals as well. Film director Rod McCall is inspired by southern New Mexico and talks about how the landscape becomes a character and part of the story in his film “Rose.” McCall has a home in Hillsboro and spends as much time as he can there. “New Mexico is an extremely visual place,” McCall told me. “The landscape has a life of its own. It’s free and open and has gorgeous light. You can put any kind of story into a New Mexico landscape and the landscape becomes a character. I think every artist finds the place they sort of flower. That’s what New Mexico does for me.” “Rose,” starring Cybill Shepherd and James Brolin, is the
not only unacceptable, it is unthinkable, and unconscionable! Look at the writers who have published through UNM Press and you will see a pantheon of great world writers. We need the Press to stay in New Mexico. It is our pride and lifeblood. What does this all say about a state that declares itself to be
a haven for the arts and artists, and which, by the way, supports tourism and connection and communication between people? As someone who loves UNM Press and our cultural life in New Mexico, it is important for us to reflect on what this means for us as a people. We will be
poorer than before, and bereft of this valuable and important humanistic interaction between our students, faculty, the community and those who know and love our state, and yes, those who have come to us knowing we represent the best of creative life. I would ask the President of
UNM, as well as the Board of Regents, and those who know and love UNM Press to speak up and stand up now. Now is no time to lose faith in our ability to heal the world, one story and one book at a time. Denise Chávez Author and Bookseller Las Cruces
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Elva K Österreich is editor of Desert Exposure and would love to meet Desert Exposure readers during her office hours in Silver City on Thursday, March 22, at the Tranquilbuzz Coffee House, located at the corner of Yankie and Texas streets. If that is not a good time, Elva will be glad to arrange another day to meet and you can always reach her at editor@ desertexposure.com or by cell phone at 575-443-4408.
continued from page 6 from across the U.S. and other countries will be convening in New Mexico. This conference is the major event for all American booksellers! How can the Regents and the President of UNM gut the Press at this pivotal time in our cultural history as we welcome booksellers from the world to our state? The timing is
Published on Mar 1, 2018