Artesia Arts & Cultural District
From early pioneers and ranchers to oil entrepreneurs, Artesia has been at the center of culture and commerce in southern New Mexico. The area was an agricultural oasis until the early 1920s when many of their eponymous artesian wells began to dwindle. In 1924, another kind of well was discovered when the Illinois #3 oil well came in, opening up the Artesia oil fields locally and the Permian Basin regionally. Artesia has long enjoyed exceptional private support of the arts, investing in the city’s quality of life through public art projects, the performing arts, and arts education. Local artists have contributed to exhibits at the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center, as well as to the Heritage Walkway, a series of murals downtown. Eleven monumental sculptures comprise the History in Bronze public art project, representing the cattle drive era and the later discovery of oil in the area. Local children gain theater experience through participation in programs by Missoula Children’s Theatre.
The Artesia Arts Council offers workshops in painting, photography, and writing, sponsors Art in the Park, and manages the Ocotillo Performing Arts Center which hosts many performance activities. The Artesia Community Chorale and Artesia Community Theater provide opportunities for the live performing arts. New and recent films are on offer at the historic Land of Sun Theatre.
Of significance, the Artesia Public Library, which opened in 2014, features a dramatic addition, an original Peter Hurd wall mural. Hurd an important landscape painter, was born in New Mexico and his work features many scenes from Southeastern New Mexico Life. The work, The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It, was originally located inside the now-demolished Prudential Building in Houston, Texas, the mural was saved and the painting was restored and relocated and installed in the new library.
The Artesia Arts & Cultural District launched its signature event, the Red Dirt Black Gold Festival which attracted more than 3,500 festival-goers in August 2015, to the city center. The Artesia Arts & Cultural District has started work on the Peter Hurd arts trail, established a database of community artists and initiated planning for Phase 1 of the 510 building as a live-work space for local artists. The Artesia Arts & Cultural District supports an outstanding public art collection and investment in the performing arts that reflects the unique heritage of the area.
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