From paintings to confections, Rio Rancho joined seven other New Mexico communities in a celebration of the arts on Saturday morning.

Local nonprofit Creative Crossroads hosted ART NM!, the brainchild of Hobbs-based Creative New Mexico arts advocacy group, at Meadowlark Senior Center.

Creative Crossroads President Neal Shotwell said the event featured 28 table displays showcasing fine arts, crafts, confections and music by groups and individuals.

“We’re hoping that people will learn about and see that there’s a lot of art and artists here in Rio Rancho,” she said.

A representative of Creative New Mexico had reached out to Shotwell and asked her to host an ART NM! event.

According to Creative New Mexico’s website, the creative workforce was larger than manufacturing and construction combined.

“Unfortunately, the creative sector was one of the hardest-hit by COVID,” according to the website. “The ART NM! event is meant to communicate the value of arts and culture in post-COVID recovery, economic development and community renewal and prosperity.”

The event also took place in Artesia, Farmington, Gallup, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Roswell and Taos on various days in April.

Shotwell said Rio Rancho artists are eager for places to show their work because the city lacks galleries, museums and similar venues.

“I don’t think people realize how much art is happening in Rio Rancho” because of the lack of venues, she said.

She hopes to create a regular outdoor artists’ street market at the senior center to help with that situation.

The ASK Academy eighth-grader Naia Thompson manned a table at ART NM! She won first place in the youth division of the Creative New Mexico Arts Advocacy Poster Contest with a poster depicting scenes from around the state.

Fellow ASK Academy student Giavanna Alamanzar was the runner-up.

Thompson said creating a design for the contest was a class assignment.

“This is all the places I’ve been to and played softball in, in New Mexico,” she said of her design.

Artist David Hockney’s abstract landscapes helped inspire her.

Thompson said it’s a little unusual for her to create art.

“I do it sometimes, but not regularly,” she said.

She was surprised by her win – which netted her a prize of $250 – but said it makes her more open about art.

Photo captions:

  • The Reilly family – parents Paul and Miranda and daughters 6-year-old Eleanor, front, and 4-year-old Evelyn – get chocolates from Tyler Heap and Janelle Boyle of Corrales Teas and Chocolate during ART NM!
  • The ASK Academy eighth-grader Naia Thompson shows the New Mexico House of Representatives certificate of recognition Rep. Joshua Hernandez, R-Rio Rancho, presented to her for her win in the Creative New Mexico Arts Advocacy Poster Contest. Her design is between them.
  • This framed poster shows the design The ASK Academy eighth-grader Naia Thompson created to win the Creative New Mexico Arts Advocacy Poster Contest.
  • From left, Gina Chavez, 8-year-old Carina Gonzales and Yolanda York show their greeting cards at ART NM!
  • Gabe Orton, 14, looks at his phone while Zora Jaques chats with a neighboring vendor at her Z-Tales Studio jewelry table at Arts NM!
  • Susan Sheridan, founder of the Visionary Arts & Crafts Guild, shows her miniatures at ART NM!
  • From left, Gina Chavez and 8-year-old Carina Gonzales staff the Sisters at HeART table while Create U 505 owner Christa Callen-Tarr waits for the next passer-by at her table during ART NM! on Saturday at Meadowlark Senior Center.