Center wipes the slate clean for a fresh start

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By Kirsten Laskey

Start fresh seems to be the motto of the organization formerly known as the Art Center at Fuller Lodge  – it will now be known as  the Fuller Lodge Art Center.

Walking into the building, the evidence of wiping  the slate clean is everywhere. The honey-colored wood floors sparkle after being refinished by county employees, there’s a faint smell of fresh paint that was applied to the walls and the entire building is bare and ready for a new beginning.

Most of all, the volunteers and new contractor are filled with excitement at the blank canvas in front of them and all the ways to fill it.

The public will be able to see what was created when the art center opens the doors to its first exhibit. Chris Ward, who was hired by the county to assist with operations for an interim period, said the show will be similar to past Affordable Art Sales, which were held in December.

There will be fiber arts, sculpture, painting, jewelry and more for sale. Ward said between 40-50 artists are expected to take part in the exhibit.

The participants include New Mexico artists such as Barbara Marigold, who creates woven pieces, and international artists including Kenneth Parker, a renowned landscape photographer.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the center. This is just the first of many exhibits to come. Next up, will be “Reflections,” which will be a juried show. Ward said the pieces could focus on anything from mirrors, and the sky to waters. The point, she said, is to think outside the box.

Besides the exhibits, it is business as usual. Ward said, “We intend to continue our regular art center mission. We want to provide the same services to the community that  provided before. Those would include individual and group exhibits.”

Additionally, art classes for adults and children will continue to be offered as well as the summer art camp for young artists.

The center is also opening its doors to different groups in the community.

While services remain unchanged, Ward said public input about what needs the art center should meet is welcomed.

“We want to be a warm, welcoming place that’s full of inspiration and life,” Ward said.

Ward, who has held this position in the past, said she’s happy to be back at the center. “It’s just exhilarating,” she said. “I just love reconnecting with artists … I’ve just been so encouraged with the response. People are so enthusiastic and excited about this.” She said she also enjoys working with Ken Nebel, co-owner of Village Arts, which earned the county’s contract to run the center on March 25.

Nebel said it is challenging starting from scratch but everyone has been lending a hand.   

The Los Alamos County Library and individuals have loaned different display items.

Plus, he said when first walking into the center, a lot more items were there to work with than what was originally expected.

A great foundation was already in place, too. “For the most part,” Nebel said, “the Art Center had fantastic programs and did a great job.”

In the future, he continued, “(We) definitely want to get youth involved (and) really try to bring in a multi-generation group.

So much is in place to work with already but (there is) so much to expand on.”

For instance, Nebel said he hopes to add to classes and have instruction on different crafts such as knitting.

Also he hopes to collaborate with other community entities such as the Los Alamos Historical Museum, the library and community art strolls.

So what does Nebel see when he looks at the empty, blank space in front of him?

Well, for the first show Nebel said it will take up the entire space. Yet, for other shows, he hopes to have a different look each time.

“I want it to be a whole new and different space,” he said. In looking at the future of the center, Nebel is energized to dive right in.

“We’re going to have a  good time in here and change it up a bit,” he said. “We’re just so excited.”