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  • Writer's pictureLucy

A Night At the NM Governor's Mansion

Recently I attended the NM State Committee's National Museum of Women in the Arts special event to honor the world-renowned artist Judy Chicago and announce the NMC Women to Watch 2024 artist nominees.

Honestly I had no idea what to expect but I dressed up and drove to Santa Fe for the evening. Mostly I was looking forward to seeing the fine art hanging in the Mansion.

Once I arrived at the Mansion I was stopped by security who checked to see if I was on the list and then allowed to park. The mansion is rather unassuming, one level and well built but not flashy. Inside was well appointed and decorated. And the art was inspiring. The event included a docent to take visitors on a tour of the art--from what I saw there was only one piece of art by a woman but that's not unusual simply because not many women artists are elevated to being "collectable" status.

This Georgia O'Keefe painting, "Spring Tree No. 1" from 1945 was in the foyer to welcome guests.

Apparently each NM Governor gets to select paintings from the NM Museum of Art to display in the Mansion. I really enjoyed several pieces of artwork selected by current Governor Michelle Jujan Grisham.

From left to right: "Maria (Lucinda in Wrap", Robert Henri, "Santa Fe Mountains in October" by Sheldon Parsons, and "Noon (Mural for the Santa Fe Country Club)" by William Penhallow Henderson.

The main event was two fold--first was the announcement of which five NM artists have been nominated as"Women to Watch". These artists have artwork that meets the theme and directive from the National Museum of Women in the Arts--which I learned is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women in the arts! Anyway, it is located in Washington, DC and the theme/vision was “How have our societal conditions impacted artists’ visions for the future or inspired them to create alternative current realities?”

Curators from the Washington D.C. Museum will then select one artist from these five nominees to represent New Mexico in the exhibit A New World at The National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2024.

Second was a speech by world-renown artist Judy Chicago. You can tell just from this photo that she is a woman with something to say.

Judy spoke for about 15 minutes on the topic of how important it is to support artists--and particularly women artists. Through her speech I learned how she had been systematically sidelined in her artist career despite successful exhibits, how fellow female artists had their work carelessly shoved in a closet after donating to a museum for safekeeping, and how she had to seek out information on women artists as none of that was taught when she was a young woman. (Side note that information was not being taught when in the 1980s was in art school either).

She attributes her ability to continue to make art (despite not experiencing financial success to match her staggering ability to shift American culture) to a tireless and generous benefactor. She was humorous, genuine, powerful, and impressive.

And then everyone went home. It was interesting to see how quickly the mansion emptied. I stayed for a while looking at the art and chatting with other stragglers who didn't want to leave right away. 😊

Another favorite painting at the Mansion, "Indians and Tavois" by Gerald Cassidy.

In the days since the event I've been thinking about how hard it is for women to "make it" in the art world compared to men. It's a daunting situation and can feel overwhelming but there's no avoiding it either. Women make art. Not only that but women make GREAT art. I'm excited to know there is a museum dedicated to celebrating women artists in Washington DC and can only hope that someday some of my artwork will be safely archived there. In the meantime the next time I go to Washington DC I'm going to visit the museum and encourage you to go too!

(Currently under renovation and scheduled to reopen in the fall of 2023)

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