When one thinks of an artistic and literary enclave in New Mexico, the mind wonders to Santa Fe, Taos and possibly areas around Los Alamos and Albuquerque; most think exclusively Northern New Mexico and dismiss areas to the south.
Regional and national art critics and magazines that cover culture and the arts, would have those to the north and outside New Mexico, believe the sun rises and sets to the north and that Southern New Mexico is a wasteland in the artisan or literary sense. But those times are changing and changing fast. Hello world!!!! The winds of the White Sands are awake with the spirits of creativity, and those sands of creativity are blowing daily on Alamogordo’s Main Street- New York Avenue.
While the business shutdowns and drama of the pandemic was a nightmare to many in the arts and literary communities of Northern New Mexico; several members of the artistic and literary community of Alamogordo, New Mexico, used the period of shutdown or slowdown; to create, to fine tune and to craft plans to bring Alamogordo out of the funk of a pandemic, and to rise like a phoenix, into the budding cultural arts capital of Southern, New Mexico.
The shutdown of business and life as we knew it, forced many individuals to revisit those things that were important to them; to reinvigorate their passions and to write, sculpt, or create, and craft plans to bring the arts and culture back to life in Southern New Mexico, most specifically in Alamogordo and Alamogordo city center – New York Avenue.
The cultural evolution of Alamogordo began in 1988; when Alamogordo resident Margaret Flickinger bought the Sierra Theater, a 1950s-style movie theater donated it to the county as a performance space called the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts. The inaugural performance at the theater was in December 1988 by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. The inaugural season started in October 1992 and the center has undergone several renovations since. Fast forward to 2022, and the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, is energized as the anchor for live professional and community live performance art and a leader in the cultural renaissance that is happening on Alamogordo’s, New York Avenue.
During the pandemic several artist and artistic ventures struggled statewide, but several innovative entrepreneurs tweaked, reinvented, and recommitted that as the state reopened; so too would the artistic community with a renewed passion for visibility and sustainability on Alamogordo’s, historic New York Avenue.
Otero Arts Inc was one such organization that recommitted and renewed its commitment to drive forward with a true focus on cultivating and showcasing the artisans and authors of Alamogordo and Otero County. Otero Arts Inc. is a community-based non-profit organization formed in 2019 “to enrich the lives of the people of the community through the arts and to foster a spirit of mutual support and cooperation among artists,” according to its mission statement.
In the post pandemic, second half of 2021 and into 2022, under the direction of then, Board President, Chris Jones the organization officially started hosting diverse events at the 1936 built Women’s Club Building. Events to pique the interest of the locals and tourist alike included art shows, belly dancing classes, weaving circles, and even participating in a ghost, arts and history tour sponsored by artisan partner and donor, Roadrunner Emporium.
Otero Arts has shown a path forward for many in the artistic community. The organization has expanded its membership, invested heavily in the infrastructure to host a multitude of events in the new year. 2022 looks to be a venturesome year for the organization, with an aggressive calendar of events planned that will encompass and showcase a broad cross-section of artisan creations and gallery events to please its membership and the public in Otero County and beyond.
During the summer of 2021, a rekindled spirit of artistic expression took hold of the historic New York Avenue, the main street of Alamogordo. The Alamogordo Main Street organization once again began hosting events, and behind the scenes had been working with local politicians to ease restrictive interpretations on ordinances to allow more street fairs and activities on the main street corridor. They began with the New York Avenue Christmas Street Fair 2021 and are planning many events in 2022 to include Atomicon on May 14th, 2022, and other festivals sure to inspire the senses.
With that renewed passion on New York Avenue, new investment into artisan focused businesses took shape. The lead investment was made by partners Chris Edwards and Rene Sepulveda into the Roadrunner Emporium which has grown into an entrepreneurial artisan showcase with a very specific nod to the history of the building it is housed in and the historic importance of the New York Avenue district. This “entrepreneurial artisan and collectibles focused collaborative” is located at 928 New York Avenue in a building built in 1900, as Alamogordo’s original First National Bank, chartered in 1900.
With its outreach to both artisans, antique’s collectors, authors and partnership with the Flickinger Center, Otero Arts, and the Tularosa Basin Museum; it is viewed by many locals as “the center of renewed cultural activities for the New York Avenue business district.” The Roadrunner Emporium Gallery, on 3 floors, in a historic building, is a showcase history, and of over 80 artists: from weaving and spinning, to acrylics, sculptured art and even live performance art, in addition to antiques, jewelry and collectibles entrepreneurs, all under one roof.
Twice a month the space hosts free to the public live music concerts such as Lacy Reynolds on the Harp upcoming February 11th, 2022, or Lenore Whitney singing jazz vocals February 25th, 2022. And it will be cohosting a “celebration of history event” with the Tularosa Basin Museum in March showcasing the historic safes and cashiers’ cages that once inhabited the building from 1900 to 1928 and are now restored and on display to the public.
In partnership with Lydia Aspen and Emanuel Renteria; Roadrunner Emporium and Main Street Music and Arts will be hosting a showcase of Alamogordo artisans, this spring at the Patrons Hall at the Flickinger Center. This event will showcase artist, live performance art, culinary delights and much more.
The 928 New York Avenue location hosts author book signings, artist led classes and workshops for kids and adults, and even offers “how to classes” for aspiring authors, small businesses around social media and entrepreneurs.
The success of this New York Avenue anchor business has spurred the investment of other artisan focused businesses on New York Avenue and new businesses planned for launch this year partnering with those recently opened.
Next door to the Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, on the historic New York Avenue is a new gallery space that opened in October 2021. The gallery is a classic gallery in the sense of initial feel and represents the finest and most eclectic collection of art to be found in Southern New Mexico. The gallery is under the leadership of Lydia Aspen and collaborator Emmanual Renteria located at 1120 New York Avenue. This unique gallery is a sight to be seen and a true showcase of color, texture and is certainly not a stoic gallery that takes itself too seriously. Lydia Aspin and partner, Emanual Renteria, bring art to life with color and personality in a whimsical, yet creative approach to local art. Art, jewelry, sculptured arts, and music – a drum set that was formerly on tour with “Prince” and the very finest in local arts are all on display and for sale, by the kindest most approachable artistic proprietors in New Mexico.
In December, the Local Bodega, 906 New York Avenue opened its doors. The shop is a local showcase of “Made in New Mexico” farm fresh products and more; from fresh fruits and veggies to soaps and candles representing farm to home style products and accessories is the goal of the Local Bodega. With a “passion for local” this small business inspires the senses of fresh, when one enters the doors. This is a small independent shop not to be missed on a visit to Alamogordo’s New York Avenue.
The cultural arts scene is not, just new businesses, on New York Avenue, in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The veterans of the street have kept it alive and are constantly expanding their successes.
Of special note, are the established businesses of New York Avenue that have inspired the community for decades; to include Victoria 913 and Pins and Needles which offers quilting classes and showcases the artesian needlecrafts of a bygone era still alive and growing exclusively in Alamogordo. The creations of fine quilts and other handsewn artisan creations from Alamogordo’s New York Avenue and Victoria 913; are considered highly collectible and of quality seldom found in our modern times. Under the direction of Alice Weineman for over 35 years, she is the respected elder stateswoman of the street. Local quilters have made Victoria on Pins and Needles the go-to source for fabric and other sewing needs. Quilting classes are taught by Lisa Blevins and are offered at the shop on a regular basis. Ms. Blevins is a certified quilting teacher and she, along with Pam Holland teach and inspire quilters throughout Southern New Mexico. Now, that New York Avenue is reopened for business; classes are back and stronger than ever and inspiring a whole new generation of quilters to carry the craft forward.
High Fashion from tuxedos to the finest in women’s formal ware are found also on 918 New York Avenue at Elite Memories Boutique. Elite Memories Boutique is recognized across New Mexico for its spin on high fashion, as it where Ms. New Mexico comes to be fitted every year for the annual Ms. New Mexico contest that is hosted annually in Alamogordo.
Miss New Mexico, Misa Tran strolled across the national stage in a flowing red gown during the 2019 Miss USA pageant and was just one of many young pageant hopefuls outfitted by Alamogordo’s Elite Memories Boutique. Elite Memories Boutique is the gown sponsor for Miss New Mexico and for Miss America, recognized across the nation for its selection of high-quality fashions. Elite Memories Boutique owner, Claudia Loya is a survivor and has operated on Alamogordo’s New York Avenue since 2014. She is board Vice President of Alamogordo Main Street and is committed to the rebirth of this historic district.
Mia’ Collectibles located at 823 New York Avenue offers the finest in antiques and collectibles and has a following of individuals that travel from San Francisco and Houston for the highest quality offerings at affordable Southern New Mexico prices. As a member of AntiqueTrails.com Mia’s is a must stop destination for the antique shopper seeking the best in fine antique but at Southern New Mexico prices.
Lastly, we cannot forget the wonders of Moni Cake’s Bakery at 924 New York Avenue that strives to bring the latest in edible art to life. The delights of artisan pastries, cakes, and the wonders of the fresh backed culinary arts of Moni Cakes Bakery has created a following of thousands of Facebook fans eager to see the photos of the newest culinary delights. Note, get your orders in early, as they sell out daily of the freshest and prettiest of artisan baked goods that can compete with any bakery from the finest of cities in America.
The historic New York Avenue in Alamogordo, New Mexico is in a true state of renewal, reinvigoration, and certainly is on mission with a purpose. It is a work in progress, and the best is yet to come. But daily one sees elements of this renewal in action.
The photo that began the article showed local authors Josette Herrell with author BJ Oquist who did a book signing and release of 2 children’s books from New York Avenue. Also pictured was spinning artist Linda Swenson, whose high style fashions have become a favorite of women from Houston, Dallas, San Francisco and beyond. She has developed a following of fans that travel to Alamogordo for her creative designs. It is becoming more and more common to participate in; “meet the artist or author events”, hear live music, see crafting classes in action and more, all a part of this energized group of artisans committed to urban renewal of this historic zone.
History comes alive with culture, the arts and business now on New York Avenue, Alamogordo.
Alamogordo’s New York Avenue historic district is well on its way of repositioning itself as the new center of culture for Southern New Mexico. With the focus on live performance venues, galleries, antiques and collectibles shops, the culinary arts, the evolution of local authors, tapping into local talent; this historic district, showcasing their works, in a partnered approach, represents a promising future for Alamogordo.
Watch out Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque, as the wind blows across the White Sands to the south, a phoenix is rising, spurred on by creativity and entrepreneurship, partnered with the vision of Alamogordo’s New York Avenue. When the artistic community and the creative class unites with business, and the natural beauty of a region is recognized; a force is created that spurs the imagination, and that is the renewal of Alamogordo’s, New York Avenue.
We can’t wait to see you, come join the fun and witness the evolution in progress, come on down south, and stay a while. Our locals and visitors make positive memories, daily onthat last a lifetime on Alamogordo’s Main Street- New York Avenue.
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