A journey through the valley


Nearby and undiscovered.

That’s how some might describe the hidden treasures of Valencia County.

A local group is trying to change that with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and New Mexico Arts, a state agency that promotes local art and artists.

Members of the Tomé Art Gallery have received a

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Artists Joanie Gallimore, Lorri Eberlin, Pauline and Bob Skinner pose at Gifts Galore in Bosque Farms. Various artists from around Valencia County will be apart of a self-guided tour that features art and heritage. The stops are funded by a federal grant.

$15,000 grant to advertise and promote 50 locations that have ties to heritage or art in Valencia County.

The self-guided tour called “Trails and Rails: Arts and Heritage in Valencia County,” features locations that offer people a taste of what the art community produces.

“Every location is either an arts location or something of interest historically,” said Jan Pacifico, the project director.

Pacifico has been a part of the renewable grant that is in its fourth cycle. The grant has brought $60,000 in advertisement and promotion of history and art in the area since the group first went after the grant.

The main goal of the group is to make Valencia County an arts destination like Santa Fe.

The group plans to advertise in publications such as Sunset and New Mexico Magazine to promote the stops on the trail. Stops include Lodi’s Beads, Paseo de Peralta and Tomé Art Gallery among others.

The Tomé Art Gallery will host a special event Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Thome Domiguez Community Center that will bring artists together in one place to give people an idea of what the trail has to offer. The event runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Local museum historians Maggie McDonald and Richard Melzer will be on hand at the event.

“The museum is going to be open, which is pretty neat,” said artist Heidi Snell. “I think a lot of people drive by and don’t realize there is a nice museum about Tomé.”

Officials from the Luna Mansion and Garden Gate Day Spa in Los Lunas plan to donate small portions of food to give people a “taste” of Valencia County for the event.

Pacifico said the free food should help draw people in who otherwise didn’t know about the event.

“This is a big thing around the country,” Pacifico said. “… When I traveled across the country this summer, everywhere I went I saw signs for somewhere that was having a taste (of the trail event). It really brings people in, especially with food. People come from miles around when they know there is free food.”

For artists at Gifts Galore, the event is a chance to get some free publicity for their store. Gifts Galore of Bosque Farms features the work of about 35 different vendors in the area.

Bob Skinner, a woodworker at Gifts Galore, said the trail allows artists to showcase their work without having to leave the store’s location along N.M. 47 in Bosque Farms.

He said artists make items out of barbed wire, wood and crochet at the store where items the are for sale.

One artist, Max Coffey makes his works out of barbed wire. Examples include a cactus and an armadillo.

Skinner said the store is a better alternative to traveling to various places such as Socorro and Mountainair, a show process that would take hours to complete.

“It took us hours to set up and tear down,” Skinner said.

Another group, Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, plans to hand out seeds of wildflowers that attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds as something unique along the trail.

“Every place is different,” Pacifico said. “We have all kinds of things.”

Michel Richard, owner of the Wood Shop, said being a stop on the trail will give him a chance to better situate items around his business. The Wood Shop has been in Valencia County for some 40 years and makes items such as custom furniture.

“I want to be on the Trail,” Richard said. “It will help me organize my shop better.”

The trail is meant to promote cultural economic development in Valencia County by distributing trail guides, bumper stickers, and advertising in local, state and international publications as a way to get the word out.

This year, the group plans to print 2,000 calenders that have important dates for local groups such as Belen’s Harvey House Museum and the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts along with other local art groups.

Pacifico said the awareness of the trail starts at home. She said she wasn’t sure how many people would attend the event but hopes locals will come and see local art.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, residents can look forward to demonstrations from different artists with different items on various tables at the Thome Domiguez Community Center.

Pacifico said the event is worth the time to head to the museum on N.M. 47 to Tomé.

“We want the local people to know that we are here,” Pacifico said. “It’s important for the local population to see what we have.”


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.