New Deal exhibit touring New Mexico

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal will re-emerge in Roosevelt County next fall as Portales hosts a 75th anniversary photo exhibit: New Mexico’s New Deal Treasures, according to a press release.

New Mexico Economic Development Department’s MainStreet Program has borrowed the traveling exhibit from the National New Deal Association.

The exhibit, which includes approximately 70 photographs of various Works Project Administration art projects, will be at the Roosevelt County Courthouse from Sept. 19 to Nov. 1, 2008. Portales is one of just five MainStreet cities in New Mexico that will host the exhibit.

“I am pleased that we are carrying this story back into our communities,” said Fred Mondragon, NMEDD Cabinet Secretary Designate. “We continue to tap the spirit and drive of President Roosevelt in new economic initiatives to build on and enhance the ability of our New Mexico communities to maintain good jobs, healthy businesses and a dynamic arts market tied to our unique culture and history. I encourage every New Mexican to expose themselves and their families to this wonderful exhibit.”

MainStreet President Danny Woodward said the exhibit is planned for display on the fourth floor of the courthouse.

According to County Manager Charlene Hardin, that area (formerly the jail) has been used for storage in recent years, but plans have been in the works to clear the space. She said if the fourth floor isn’t ready by then the exhibit will be shown elsewhere in the courthouse.

The courthouse, along with the Portales Post Office and the Eastern New Mexico University Administration Building, are all WPA projects. The post office has a WPA mural of buffalo on the prairie.

“It’s New Deal photos, and the courthouse was built with New Deal money, so I think that it’s kind of fitting to have it (the exhibit) here,” Hardin said.

Woodward said Portales MainStreet is working to finalize the plans for the exhibit’s arrival in Portales. He said a reception will likely be held when it opens.

Under President Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives, the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed roads, dams, parks, monuments, libraries, hospitals, post offices, firehouses, schools and municipal buildings across New Mexico, according to the release.