Art center coming to Tucumcari

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Soon, Quay County artists won’t have to travel to exhibit in a gallery, rent studio space, be counseled in business and marketing advice or even share a cup of coffee with fellow creators. An entire art center — with café — is coming to Tucumcari.

“Other communities have turned themselves into art meccas, like Santa Fe and Taos, why not Tucumcari?” asked art space Executive Director Ruth Nelson.

She also said the space will not only help to perhaps create masterpieces, but will assist in creating more tourism.

In the works now for several years, the Eastern New Mexico Art Space is set to be located in the old Gibson building at 2002 S. First St. It’s being helped along with Meslands Community College’s Small Business Development Center’s David Buchen, Nelson and the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.

“We got a $5,500 grant, which was enough to cover a feasibility study with some left over for a business plan,” Nelson said, both of which have been completed. “We are also looking into other grants for funding.”

Nelson said the not-for-profit organization has already garnered support from the building’s owner, who is giving them a break on the rent until renovations are complete, and the contractor, Daniel’s Construction, which gave them a discount on renovation work.

“They understand this means more business for everybody,” Nelson said.

“We’re not in it to make a lot of money,” she added, “other than the cost of providing services to our clients. The artists need affordable housing and an affordable place to be.”

Services are slated to include a number of rentable studios, a large gallery space, artist advisement on how to market, network and devise a business plan, access to legal help, workshops, a restaurant and an apartment with studio to possibly house a resident artist.

Nelson also pointed out Tucumcari’s location on several major thoroughfares and its proximity to places like Santa Fe make it a very viable option for artists who need to travel for their work.

“Our goal is not to keep the artists here,” Nelson said, “but to hatch them out, as an incubator should.”

A release from Eastern New Mexico Art Space said the center will not only look for local artists, but will be recruiting on a national — and perhaps even international — level.

Although the center will begin with a focus on visual arts, the release said the incubator may eventually broaden to serve those who create in other art forms.

Quite aptly, the art incubator’s first event begins with eggs.
The ostrich egg auction is scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 18. If the building is not ready by then, the auction will be held at the Tucumcari Convention Center.