If you don’t know the “legend of Dick Moots,” you are either new to the city of Rio Rancho or not paying attention.
Moots moved his family from Chicago to Rio Rancho before Rio Rancho was even a city — and his brood were noted as the 500th residents in the city. Although the population has grown, with the new 2020 U.S. Census pegging the City of Vision’s population at some 104,000, and most of that brood has moved out, Moots still lives in the same house he bought on Sara Road.
Talented enough as a high school athlete to receive a scholarship to play basketball at Loyola University in Chicago, where he stayed one year, Moots opted to pursue his artistic talent at the School of the Art Institute, also in the Windy City.
He believes the first image he was paid for was from a law firm when he was just 17. This evolving career really took off during his art institute days when he found part-time work at a downtown Chicago ad agency, hauling in $42 a week.
Later, he moved his family to Rio Rancho, where he worked as a graphic artist. Flash forward to today, and five decades of his work are highlighted through Nov. 5 in the first-ever exhibit at the city’s new Broadmoor Senior Center.
“My girls really helped me with this,” Moots said of his hundreds of items displayed. “They wanted me to be first … This is a sampling.”
Moots probably should have termed it a “small” sampling.
Some of what visitors will see should spark memories: Ads showing legendary Albuquerque TV newsman Dick Knipfing; ads for the long-gone Diamond Shamrock that was on the corner of Sara Road and NM 528; various business cards and logos; ads for Rio Rancho Homes and AMREP Southwest; illustrations for New Mexico Magazine and the Santa Fe Opera; the Albuquerque Press Club’s “Ape Sheet” from one of its shows; a clever booze ad proclaiming, “Take Me to Your Liter”; and work for the Albuquerque Dukes.
Moots, back in 1972, came up with the Albuquerque team’s Conquistador-like logo when fans voted to change the moniker from Dodgers to Dukes when the team and legendary manager Tom Lasorda joined the Pacific Coast league.
One of Moots’ three daughters at the premiere on Oct. 7, Erin, proclaimed it “a wonderful blast from the past. We haven’t seen this stuff in decades.”
Interested in what they were seeing their father do in his studio, Erin asked had him for art classes.
“We all at some point were in the (home) studio,” recalled daughter Rita. “He would pay us to cut out pictures for the ‘morgue’ — lots of different things, (like) animals, horses, dinosaurs.”
Erin, Rita and the third daughter, Nina — the oldest of the siblings, son Carey, was a late arrival at the premiere — chuckled as they reminisced. Erin still works for her dad, using her digital talents for some of his layouts — and, yes, he’s still cashing paychecks from time to time.
Thankfully not affected at the age of 83 with arthritis, Moots says, “I’ve got a steady hand and God blessed me to do this.”
He was also blessed by his father, who he said “had artistic talent; he taught me how to paint.” His father grew up in Lake Arthur, N.M., and played a season for the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, before tiring of the state and taking his family to the Midwest.
You can see the Moots artwork at Broadmoor Senior Center, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no charge for admission.