The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates its 25th anniversary
By Christina Stock
The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, 409 E. College Blvd., will have an open house celebrating its 25th anniversary on Oct. 26, from noon to 8 p.m.
There will be family activities, including a scavenger hunt, art activities, as well as free cake and punch while supplies last.
Visitors can participate in a picnic in the museum with family-friendly prices on foods with vegetarian options. From 5 to 7:30 p.m. the adult Cantina will have a cash bar open.
Art Bingo starts at 6 p.m. It includes using AMoCA art images and participants can win prizes.
At 7 p.m., Roswell Artist-in-Residence alumni Judy Richardson will talk and show images of her artwork.
Richardson is a renowned artist from Brooklyn. She was part of the RAiR program in 1988-89. “I am a sculptor and I use a lot of different materials, a lot of different things,” Richardson said in an earlier interview. She graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the School of Visual Arts in New York City as well as from the University of California. Richardson’s sculptures have been exhibited in California, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey.
Richardson has good memories from her time in the RAiR program and AMoCA. “It was the best,” she said. “Having that time was the best. That’s why so many artists come back.”
Nancy Fleming is the director of AMoCA. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to be part of the RAiR Foundation since the inception of the museum 25 years ago — coincidentally, the same year our daughter was born — so it’s a double joy to celebrate this milestone,” she said.
“It’s hard to express my gratitude to Don and Sally Anderson for allowing me the opportunity to direct AMoCA, and to my husband for bringing me to Roswell — Stephen was the RAiR program director for 25 years. I’ve had the most enriched, creative, fulfilled career and life that I could have ever have hoped for — and am looking forward to the next 25.” Nancy Fleming said.
AMoCA opened its doors in Roswell in 1994 to showcase works of art produced by former fellows of the worldwide known Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. The program was created by Don Anderson who celebrated his 100th birthday this year.
Anderson had served in the Navy during World War II and had moved from his hometown of Chicago to rural Roswell in 1946 to work in the oil refinery business with his brother. By the mid-1960s, Anderson was a highly successful oil executive and an accomplished painter. Eventually, he developed the idea of creating a residency program for contemporary visual artists. His vision was to enhance the cultural environment of Roswell and Southeast New Mexico by bringing artists of national importance to live and work in the tranquility of the high plains.
Former RAiR director, Stephen Fleming, remembered the humble beginnings of the museum in the book “The Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program: An Anecdotal History” by Ann McGarrell and Sally Anderson as follows:
It was an industrial space that Anderson used as a sometime office and storage space for his own paintings — and for the sculpture Luis Jiménez gigantic progress pieces.
In the early ‘90s, Anderson created a new entrance in the front of the building leading to a small gallery space, where he hung a group of his own paintings. Meanwhile, the Roswell Museum and Art Center had pulled away from the residence program and the RAiR members rarely were permitted to have their exhibit opening at the museum.
When Robbie Barber was denied a show at the RMAC, he remembers his naive boldness in asking Don to empty the gallery of his own work and install Barber’s show. He also remembers Don’s poker face and “Let me think about it” response:
“A little while later,” Barber said, “Don called and gave the go-ahead. He let me haul in all this stuff, including several tons of scrap metal and steel, shelling out his own money and time for this. We printed a card, had an opening and had a band play: Nightcrawler with Stu Arends, among others.”
One of the main features of the show was Barber’s series of sharks made from golf bags, suspended from the ceiling, displaying their teeth. The sharks remained for many years to come.
“The show looked great,” Fleming said. “From that time on, the space at 409 E. College Blvd. began to evolve.”
Another show by Jiménez in 1994 inspired Fleming to ask Anderson if they could put drywall over the rough cinderblock walls, reasoning that it would be easier for art to be displayed. This was done right away. From there on, the place transformed little by little into the modern museum of today — a museum that can easily compete against museums in much larger cities.
Today, more than 400 diverse works of art enliven its nine galleries and 22,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Dedicated to the work produced by artists who have participated in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, AMoCA has become a source of knowledge and inspiration about contemporary visual art for the Roswell region, New Mexico and the nation.
This unique collection of photographs, paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture provides a snapshot of the evolving issues in art over the last 45 years — since the 1967 inception of the RAiR program.
Works range from figurative to non-objective and showcase the diversity of the RAiR Program. Few other museums provide a similar focus on contemporary visual art with such an eclectic range of form and content.
AMoCA has since opened its doors for RAiR artist’s dinners, lectures, award shows and most notable, free concerts by renowned artists from Santa Fe and around the world, including for the Roswell Jazz Festival, which presents today, Oct. 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. its ticketed Bosendorfer Piano Showcase with renowned musicians Ted Rosenthal, Johnny Varro, Barron Ryan, Chuck Redd and Erik Unsworth.
For more information, visit rair.org/about-amoca or call 575-623-5600.