Exhibit features New Mexico artists

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

An exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration will open Friday in Portales.

The exhibit features more than 80 photographs of work created during the 1930s and ‘40s by New Mexico artists.

The WPA, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, employed as much as 40 percent of the state’s population and left a legacy of public works, art and crafts throughout New Mexico, according to a news release from Nicole Wilkening, who helped organize the exhibit.

Portales buildings constructed under the WPA include the post office, the courthouse and Eastern New Mexico University’s administration building. The post office and administration building also have murals painted by WPA artists.

The photos will be displayed on the fourth floor of the courthouse, in the old jail.

Greg Erf, who serves on the board of directors of MainStreet and the Portales Arts Council, said organizers thought it would be interesting to have the exhibit in the old jail, partly because the courthouse is a WPA building.

“It’s an opportunity to view the historical creative treasures done in the state in the ‘30s and ‘40s, all in the comfort of the county jail,” said Rusty Torgeson, a member of the Portales Arts Council.

The art “definitely has a New Mexico influence and is representative of the culture” of the state, said Torgeson.

Portales is the last of five cities in the state to host the WPA exhibit, courtesy of the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s MainStreet progam, which borrowed the exhibit from the National New Deal Association.

Kathryn Flynn, author of “New Deal: A 75th Anniversary Edition” and “Treasures on New Mexico Trails: Discover New Deal Art and Architecture,” will speak at 2 p.m. during the opening reception.

After the reception, the show will be open by appointment from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

In conjunction with the WPA exhibit, Investments Out West Fine Art gallery, on the square across from the courthouse, will host Photo 76,

featuring the art of seven eastern New Mexico photographers, all taken within a 76-mile radius of Portales.

Both exhibits will be on display until Nov. 1.

PNT intern Celena Cordova contributed to this article.

Art in Portales

What: 75th anniversary WPA exhibit

Opening reception: Noon-5 p.m. Friday in the district courtroom of the courthouse

Where: Fourth floor of the courthouse in the old jail

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. by appointment. Nicole Wilkening, 356-6662.

What: Photo 76 show

Opening reception: 4-9 p.m. Friday

Where: Investments Out West Fine Art gallery, 113 W. Second St., across the street from the courthouse on the south side of the square