Tucumcari muralists moving on

Chelle Delaney

Six years and 30 murals later, Tucumcari artists and muralists Sharon and Doug Quarles are picking up their paint brushes and moving to Cimarron.

The artists have left a legacy of murals depicting the Mother Road, local scenes and personalities and the landscape of Quay County. A self-guided tour of the murals is a featured handout at the Chamber of Commerce, and the murals also attract tourists.

“The murals are really why we are here,” said Connie Falls. “The murals are like the Quarles star of approval. So, we went to visit them at their art gallery.”

That was two years ago, and Connie and her husband, Don Falls, have since settled in Tucumcari, and have purchased and renovated the old mission on south Jackson Street.

“Not only are we losing good talent, but we’re losing good friends,” said Don Falls.”It’s sad the city is losing real resources.”

David Buchen, executive director of Eastern New Mexico ArtSpace, said, “It’s sad we were not able to keep them in the community. But we’re hoping to get Doug back to do a mural for the train depot.”

Six years ago, the couple came to Tucumcari from Louisiana. “We said we’d give it six years, and it’s almost been six years to the date,” said Sharon Quarles. “I’m sad, but I’m also excited about the challenge. We want to concentrate more on our easel art. We have sold art to people in Cimarron and they know us there.”

Doug Quarles said that the couple had an opportunity to open a gallery there and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity. The gallery will be called by the same name that they’ve used here, Gallery 111.

Not long after the couple opened Gallery 111 in downtown Tucucmari in a section of the Sands-Dorsey building, they suffered a setback when the Sands-Dorsey caught fire and burned in June 2007.

After that, the couple operated a bed and breakfast on High and Adams streets, Gallery 111 Bed & Breakfast, in a 1907 Georgian home.

The couple have taken an active role in Tucumcari. Sharon Quarles served as a member of the advisory boards for the Tucumcari Main Street program and the city’s Lodger’s Tax, and Doug Quarles served as a board member for ArtSpace. Both were founding members of ArtSpace.

At Friday’s send-off, Doug Quarles said, “Just keep fighting for art. I’d love it if there were a gallery in every block. Come to Cimarron anytime, we’ll have the coffee pot brewing.”