The future of art in Belen is near, and two famous Belenites – the internationally renowned feminist artist Judy Chicago and her husband, photographer Donald Woodman – are working carefully to turn Really Flower Art Space into reality.
What was initially thought to be a "museum", the TTF Art Space at 107 Becker Ave., is scheduled to open in July – the weekend of Chicago's 80th birthday. It is the ultimate adventure for the two famous artists, who have made Hub City their home since they bought the historic Belen Hotel in 1993.
"We believe you do not have to live in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or even Santa Fe to have access to art," Chicago said. "I think that what is really important to move forward is the outpouring of community support, we will need the continued support of the community to support it and grow."
A museum, explains Chicago and Woodman, must be accredited by the National Museum Association. For them, they have to meet certain requirements and the TTF Art Space is not big enough to be called a museum.
The idea of a museum began when Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova and Councilor Ronnie Torres approached Chicago and Woodman about the idea about six months ago. They agreed, saying they wanted to return and hoped to contribute to the economic development of the city and bring back some of that "neighborhood feeling" of the area.
After what Chicago features as the "brouhaha" surrounding the controversy when a financial partnership has been proposed to the city, they have withdrawn the offer. Recognizing community support for the project, the TTF board decided to do it alone and created a GoFundMe account, which has now raised more than $ 16,600, including Cordova's annual salary of $ 10,000.
A space for local artists
The first year of the Through the Flower Art Space will be an exhibition on the Belen Hotel and on the life, art and work of Chicago and Woodman.
"Subsequently, Paula Castillo will become the curator of space and will organize exhibitions and programs for New Mexico artists," Chicago said. "We want to introduce the community on what will happen there, so we will have three introductory programs that will lead to great openness".
The first event will be a sale at the flower auction in March, where people can buy a variety of furniture and office equipment, while supporters and staff discuss plans for the art space. The second event, Friday Night Family Arts Gathering, will take place in April, when Castillo will conduct a discussion and creative practice for teenagers and their parents. The third event, Displaying Thankfulness, will be held in May at Kelly Cross's studio on Becker Avenue. This is a workshop for mother's day for children, who will paint a plate to commemorate the important women of their lives. "We are supplying all the materials and Kelly is providing space," Chicago said.
"It's not about opening the artistic space Through the Flower, we do not have to have it all here, we can collaborate with other places where it can adapt better, we want to share programming in different places," Woodman said.
The fundraising effort was also in full swing on Saturday, when Cordova, Torres and Jaramillo Vineyards hosted A Night with Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman at the Jaramillo Vineyard Tasting Room and Central Parlor.
Barb Jaramillo, owner of Jaramillo Vineyards, is more than willing to support the TTF Art Space, saying it is a gift to the community.
"It's child's play," Jaramillo said. "We just knew that if Belen had not been smart enough to accept the deal, someone else would have done it, so we decided to support him and move on.
"Judy and Donald are famous enough to bring tourism to Belen," he said. "We need to publicize it on billboards and across the state."
Cordova said she was thrilled to be able to help Art Space, saying that about 25-30 people planned the event this weekend.
Torres, a longtime friend from Chicago and Woodman, said it was Cordova's idea for the fundraising event, which grew with the support of the community.
"Jerah has led this and has grown and grown up, and we are very excited," said Torres. "We want to show that we have someone of that caliber, someone who has been recognized as the 100 most influential people in Time magazine, here in our community."
Torres said that when he and Cordova had approached Chicago for the idea of a museum, she was humiliated, wondering if anyone would come to see him.
"After he thought about it for a while, he came back and accepted," Torres said.
"We are grateful to the community," Chicago said. "It was wonderful to see all these people get together to help."
I work for love
Before the Through the Flower Art Space can open, they have to replace the roof, renovate the interior to make way for exhibitions and programs and build a souvenir shop, where visitors can buy products, including t-shirts, posters, soaps , books and more.
The couple, married for 33 years, purchased Hotel Belen on Becker Avenue 26 years ago. They moved after three years of renovation and restoration to the building that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Chicago and Woodman had rented a home on Canyon Road in Santa Fe from a longtime friend and patron while Chicago was working on a project. While working and living there, the real estate market resonated in The City Different and the friend wanted to sell.
It was then that Woodman suggested buying a house, which Chicago had never had, after having rented his entire life.
"We had worked a lot at home in Santa Fe, and I was tired of building studios and dark rooms," said Woodman. "Judy did not care, but I wanted a place of our own."
"It was a typical New Mexico story," Chicago said. "I first came for three weeks, then stayed for three months, then I lived here but all my things were in California."
While looking for the perfect location, he had to be close to the airport because he was traveling the world for their work. When they found Hotel Belen, they fell in love with the building and the community.
"Era – it's a beautiful building, and it has what artists like – space," Chicago said. "He also had this central staircase, which was divided as a space of his and hers, it was a bit perfect, but I said to Donald:" I will not move until (renewal) has been done. " This was the smartest thing I've ever done because he told me it would take a year. "
Woodman went to all the banks in the state looking for a loan to restore the building, and was able to obtain funding through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Before starting work on the building, Chicago and Woodman invited the community to see the landmark.
"It was then that we discovered how much the building meant for people here," Chicago said. "It was really nice."
The project was long and arduous, having to replace a leaky roof, fixing the rotten floor boards and the plaster walls, to begin with. Woodman, along with some locals, worked day in and day out in the building.
"It was a team effort," said Woodman of the project. "It was me, Trinne Mascareña and Charlie Barela, everyone told me that Trinne was the best mason and it took me six months to convince him to come and work with me."
Unfortunately, Mascareña died in 1995, a year before the hotel was completed. Woodman successfully nominated Mascareña for a posthumous state conservation award honoring his work at the Belen hotel.
Chicago and Woodman made an instant connection with their neighbors and community, including the late Sugar and Eva Glidewell, owners of Sugar Bowl Lanes and Eva's Grocery.
"Eva was fantastic, she ruled life with an iron fist," recalls Chicago. "When the bar got too noisy next door, Eva came up and started screaming, I remember she was always trying to feed us."
When the couple moved, the area was much more active with businesses and people coming and going. Several times than when Chicago and Woodman kept company, they walked down the street to get huevos rancheros from Femia's restaurant.
"We saw the neighborhood die over time," said Woodman.
"It was really sad because it was very lively," Chicago said. "We even had a bowling league" Through the Flower ".
To give back
In the following years, Chicago and Woodman continued to support the community and art in Belen County and Valencia. When UNM-Valencia moved to Tomé, his library was empty. The couple, through the Cultural Corridor of the Woman of New Mexico, a Through the Flower program, donated over 2,100 books to the library and the achievements of women and women, including the Chicago "Dinner Party". Contributions to the collection are underway.
Through the Flower he also provided the Chicago "Birth Project", which is a variety of needle-like and textile techniques, at the Museum of Art and History of Albuquerque.
"The cultural corridor of the New Mexico woman connects the sites of New Mexico and we will resurrect it," says Chicago.
Chicago and Woodman have not only worked to preserve Hotel Belen, they have invested in the community, they have held a series of free programming and exhibitions at the Through the Flower building in Belen, starting around 15 years ago. Together with teaching local artists how to professionally show their work, they have also hired a number of local residents for a range of employment and training opportunities.
"We tried to be good citizens of Belen," Chicago said.
The Chicago efforts were also recognized in 2011 when the then Gov. Susanna Martinez awarded her with one of the Governor's seven awards for excellence in the arts for multidisciplinary arts.
Chicago & # 39; s Through the Flower, an artistic non-profit organization founded in 1978, is committed to counteracting the cancellation of women's achievements through art by providing educational resources and artistic opportunities.