Friday, November 5, 2010

Anniversary Bash At Socorro County Arts

By Rebecca Rose

Socorro County Arts will celebrate its one year anniversary on Friday, Nov. 5, with an event open to the public.  The event, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m., features food, refreshments and live music, as well as an opportunity to meet and greet some of the many artists who display their work at the gallery.
What started as a few displays in a classroom at Tinley Gym is now a spacious gallery on California, hosting over 40 local artists.  “Back then, we had very little foot traffic.” said Leon Miler, a painter and one of the gallery’s founders.  “What we were aiming for was a better venue.  When the opportunity came to do something at the Alamo gallery, we took it.”
The space now occupied by Socorro County Arts was originally the Alamo Gallery, and featured artists almost exclusively from Alamo Navajo Reservation.  “They had a difficult time getting critical mass.” Miler said.  “Most of their artists don’t live very close.  And it’s not easy to get to the gallery from Alamo Navajo.”
One of the goals Miler had was to find a way to keep the gallery accessible to Alamo artists, without requiring them to pay any commission to showcase their work.  “It has helped Alamo artists get exposure.”  Miler said.
Miler faced the usual challenges of opening a new business in the beginning. “None of us had run a retail operation before.  You don’t expect to make money right away. But we did prove that we could sell.”
The gallery features a wide variety of art, representing the diversity of Socorro’s artistic community. From elaborate quilts, pottery, glasswork, paintings, jewelry and photography, the walls are filled with an eclectic mix of styles and mediums.
Miler said that he has seen an equally diverse mix of patrons come through the gallery in the past year.  “We’ve had visitors from Africa, Taiwan, China, Sweden, Germany and from all over the US.”  He also does a lot of business with police and firemen, participating in first responder training.  “They are looking for gifts to take home to their families. So we try to have a variety of things that they can afford.”
  As for the future, Miler hopes to grow the gallery’s exposure. “A lot of people still don’t know we were there.  We have to get it into people’s minds. Over time, we can improve our quality. And the quality right now is very high.”

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