by Dan Roblee

Tradition, talent and tip-top weather converged Dec. 1 at the kickoff of the 32nd Annual Mimbres Hot Springs Ranch (MHSR) Studio Show.  That combination led to a great day for vendors, Christmas shoppers and longtime friends of the Ranch who showed up for the occasion.

“On this day last year it was very difficult to get here because the road to Silver City was closed due to snow,” said exhibiting photographer Mitchell Clinton.

This Saturday, on the other hand, “could not have been more perfect,” said show co-organizer and exhibiting potter Kate Brown, who's been around since the very first MHSR studio show in 1980. “There have been more crowded Saturdays,” she added, “but this is a good one.”

Chef Brenna Brown said nearly 50 people bought full-plate lunches on Saturday, with numerous others sampling soups and single dishes. Longtime exhibitors guesstimated that the total number of guests approached 200.  

Sundays are usually the slower half of the two day fair, but that didn't stop show organizers from pulling out the stops with live music, door prizes and good food to complement the art on display. Vendors offered everything from paintings, clothing and jewelry to hand-crafted knives, carved or fired kitchenware and found-art holiday ornaments starting as low as three dollars.

“It's a can't miss for Silver City arties,” said Fred Pineda, a massage therapist who offered either table or chair massage sessions to guests after helping his wife Robin Parsons set up her pottery display.

For Daria Tallman, a 16-year Mimbres Valley resident and three-decade metalworker and jeweler, the fair demonstrated the growth she's seen in the Grant County art scene since her arrival, both in scope and in the overall explosion of galleries.  “People are being more innovative,” she said.  “Culturally, I'm seeing changes.  Styles are being accepted that are outside the purely Western style.”

Not that Tallman has anything against Western art.  Her cowgirl hat, in-barn studio and gallery, and much of her jewelry and sculpture demonstrate her own Western – with a twist – sensibility.  Tallman, who's been exhibiting at the MSHR show for four years, said she finds it a great place to network with other artists, as well as a potentially lucrative venue.  “I have a following from here that comes to see me every year,” she said, adding that the show “has a way of bringing people from afar.”

Nancy Evey, a Silver City resident finally able to move home after years in Santa Fe, came mostly for the eclectic crowd itself.  “I really like to watch the people,” she said. “I like it even better than the art.”

One unique facet of the show was the kids' room, where younger artists displayed their work.  “First it was all our children, and some of the kids now are the second generation in there,” Brown said.

One of the children on hand, Ben Horner, 13, was one of the few folks of any age to double as both exhibiter and performing musician.  On break from his exhibit of found-art ornaments, he played a set on the fiddle above his bill-sprinkled case.  Horner later explained the process that went into his ornaments.  “I went into the yard and sheds, found rusty cans and bolts and wire and stuff, got a drill and drilled holes, and screwed bolts in to make robot heads and other creations.”

For Orien MacDonald, a neighbor from down the valley who sold hand-crafted knives, exhibiting was possibly secondary to the trip down memory lane he took returning to the Mimbres Hot Springs Ranch.  A friend of residents' children, he was hanging out there during the same formative years he spent first trying to fit blades into handles.  “If when I was nine I knew I'd be a professional knife maker in my thirties, I'd have been super-excited,” he said.

Photographers Mitchell Clinton and Dan Roblee recorded the 2012 Mimbres Hot Springs Ranch Studio Show in photos.

Live from Silver City

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