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Seeing history through brush strokes

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By Kirsten Laskey

Compared to other counties, Los Alamos’ history seems relatively short, but certainly not uneventful.

The same can be said about its art. Local art is multifaceted, abstract, realistic, nostalgic and poignant. It can be spotted anywhere from the side of the road to a museum wall.

Besides its abundance, art has also had a long presence in Los Alamos. It’s always been here, right down to the petroglyphs etched in canyon walls.

In more recent times, the local art intertwines with the history of the Ranch School. One of the houses on Bathtub Row was the Arts and Crafts Building and Library for the school.

In 1946, the Los Alamos Art Association was formed and in the ’60s, had about 60 members.

 Exhibits were held in the old recreation hall, which now houses the Los Alamos Little Theater.

 The association also assisted with the annual art show, which was held during the fair and rodeo.

The history continues with the Art Center at Fuller Lodge opening in 1977.

Space was given to Los Alamos Arts and Crafts Association for a gallery and for art classes.

Additionally, the ordinance to create Arts in Public Places was made in 1978. The ordinance allocated 1 percent of the capital projects budget to art and a half percent from the road projects fund.

Now, all this art and history is coming together in one place.

Mesa Public Library is hosting the 60th Anniversary Exhibit.

This is a special event for the community, said Alice Mann, one of the coordinators for the show. “Art has been a part of Los Alamos for a long time ... It brings back memories,” Mann said.  

Plus, it is nice to allow people to remember the artists who have been here at one time, she added.

Stephani Johnson, county community service director, commented, “I think it’s a great way to celebrate because we have a great collection of artwork.”

Art is much more than just decoration, she added. “I think it’s important for the community to be well-rounded,” Johnson said.

The exhibit will open July 5 and a reception will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. July 10. The show will close July 30.

The public is welcome to include their artistic pieces, which can be in any medium, to the exhibit.

Art by anyone who lived or worked in Los Alamos from 1940s to the present is invited to be a part of the exhibit.

Works belonging to the county will also be included in the show.

Individuals may enter up to three works. An application and liability waiver must be submitted and all work needs to be framed, labeled with the artists’ or owner’s name, title, medium, contact information and date created.

Background information on either the artist or the work is encouraged.

Guidelines and application forms are available from the county’s website, which is www.losalamosnm.us.

People may pick up their artwork from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 31.

For more information, call program support specialist at Mesa Public Library Carol Meine at 662-8247, Alice Mann at 662-4590 or Peggy Prendergast at 412-7223.