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Mimbres Valley artist Shirley Sova shows the logo she designed for the newly formed Artisans of the Mimbres group. Visible is some of the bottle art she does, in addition to paintings on canvas. Shirley will be showing her artwork at the Roundup Lodge during the November 3 Mimbres Valley Artisans Festival.

If you go:

What: Mimbres Valley Artisans Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Mimbres Valley Round Up Lodge, with edible art featuring internationally inspired cuisine

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Living Art Studio, with demonstrations by a Pueblo weaver, and from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the courtyard the Native American Mountain Horse Singers perform inter-tribal powwow songs

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at La Esperanza Winery, prose and poetry readings by local writers, and live music, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Information: Lynnae McConaha at (575) 536-9845

MIMBRES VALLEY — The Mimbres Valley has historically been known for the high quality fruit produced in its orchards. Now, a grassroots effort is underway to bring wider attention to the high quality artwork that is quietly being produced in isolated studios up and down the valley.

A group of Mimbres Valley artists have banded together to promote arts and crafts in the valley and help each other market their work. It's an idea that has been bandied about for some time, but two women have managed to translate talk into action.

Ruth Camp and fellow artist Amelia Gianelli-Cutler have succeeded in pulling together a loose coalition of valley artists willing to work together for the benefit of all. They call themselves Artisans of the Mimbres to indicate an alliance of arts and crafts, which have traditionally been placed in separate categories.


"Actually, we are not making a distinction between arts and crafts. It's all artwork to us, and we are all artists, expressing our creativity in different ways," said Camp, who produces paintings in oils and acrylics, and hand-paints decorative designs on walking sticks made from yucca stalks that her husband, Ron, cuts and polishes.

Like many of the other valley Artisans, Gianelli-Cutler also does work that straddles the old divide between arts and crafts. Her work includes both paintings and beadwork jewelry.

Members of the Artisans group submitted designs for a logo, and it was Mimbres artist Shirley Sova's design that was selected. Her logo won acceptance for its simplicity and eye appeal. But the artist says she also built some deeper meaning into its simple design.

"The image of the turtle, though not a traditional Mimbre o figure, has a flavor of the Southwest, and I did the turtle in such a way to represent all our arts - weaving, painting, even pottery with the terra cotta color. It's meant to represent all aspects of our artistic talents in this valley," Sova explained. "The points represent the points of the compass, where perhaps we've all come from to settle in this valley, within the circle, which, of course, represents unity."

Besides creativity, members of the Artisans of the Mimbres group also share a love of country living that has led them to settle far from the urban areas where a ready market for artwork might be found.

"We have a lot of talented people here in this valley, but we live so far out that marketing our work is a problem we all face," Camp pointed out.

The most immediate goal of the Artisans group is to find ways to "promote the work of all types of artists in this area and make the Mimbres Valley more visible as a source of serious creativity," Gianelli-Cutler said. "We are aiming to create a broader exposure for artists living here in the valley."

To accomplish this, the Artisans group has started out by organizing its first annual Mimbres Valley Artisans Festival. Scheduled for Saturday, November 3, the festival will offer visitors an opportunity to see the work of Mimbres Valley artists showcased at three separate venues in the valley: the Roundup Lodge, the Living Art Studio and La Esperanza Winery. Festival hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Roundup Lodge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Living Art Studio, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at La Esperanza Winery.

In addition to colorful displays of paintings, bottle art, pottery, jewelry, mosaics, photography, fused glass, fiber arts, hand-painted lampshades and much more, each venue will offer at least one special attraction - edible art featuring internationally inspired cuisine at the Roundup Lodge, demonstrations by a Pueblo weaver with samples of historic and contemporary Pueblo weaving at the Living Art Studio, and wine tastings, plus award-winning wines available for purchase by the glass along with made-from-scratch vegetarian pizzas, all of which can be enjoyed at La Esperanza Winery on a verandah overlooking the vineyards.

To wrap up the festival, the local native American Mountain Horse Singers will be performing inter-tribal powwow songs from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the courtyard at the Living Art Studio, and there will be prose and poetry readings by local writers, as well as live music, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at La Esperanza Winery.

Enthusiasm for the Artisans Festival is snowballing, and the number of artists participating in the festival has grown from 16 to 25 in the past three weeks.

"I think the Artisans Festival is very exciting, and it's just what the valley needs," Sova said. "It'll be a shot in the arm for the artists here, give us a boost, get us more inspired."

The Artisans of the Mimbres logo she designed will appear on all the roadside signs pointing the way to the three different venues on the day of the Artisans Festival, and it appears on the flyers posted around the area and on the brochures (complete with map and directions) available at the Visitors Center in Silver City and at La Tienda and Hupp's store in the Mimbres Valley.

For more information, call Lynnae McConaha at (575) 536-9845.

Peggy Platonos is a freelance writer who lives in the Mimbres Valley. She welcomes story ideas and feedback at