PHOTOS: Exploring the art galleries of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Truth or Consequences is a small city with a big name.

The town has long drawn independent spirits and has been a magnet for artists for years. Tourists have been coming to this spa town to ‘take the waters’ since its 1916 founding. For almost a decade they have also come for the art. According to Cary “Jagger” Gustin, President of the Sierra County Arts Council, creative types come for the desert air, the clear skies and the light. 

The 2nd Saturday Art Hop, held on the second Saturday of every month, is as much a social occasion for locals as it is an art event.

Rio Bravo Art Gallery New Mexico Steve Collins

Exploring the art scene in Truth or Consequences (Photo: Steve Collins)

Meeting Local Artists

There are a handful of galleries in T or C, as the town is fondly called, but many shops, restaurants and even the Geronimo Springs Museum display local art on their walls and stay open for Art Hop. It’s truly a town enmeshed in art.

The artists in town run the gamut from unknown to those with a strong following. Rio Bravo Fine Art (101 North Broadway) was started by the late Taos artist Harold Joe Waldrum, who moved to T or C and opened his gallery in 1999. Waldron, who died 2003, is famous for his paintings of New Mexico churches. Rio Bravo represents the better-known artists showing in town.

Ask anyone in Truth or Consequences about well-known local artists and they will likely mention Delmas Howe, whose work is on display at Rio Bravo. Born and raised in T or C, he left in the 1950s and after a stint in the Air Force went from Yale to New York City and then Texas. He returned home in the 1980s. Howe, an eclectic painter, is known for his varied subjects: cowboy culture, mythology and homo-eroticism. He was sitting in the gallery greeting hoppers the night we were there.

Another artist known beyond T or C is Olin B. West, owner of the Hundredth Monkey (324 Broadway). West’s paintings include both representational and abstract works.

100th Monkey Gallery New Mexico Steve Collins

Olin B West's work at the 100th Monkey Gallery (Photo: Steve Collins)

Not Just for Tourists

The mood was festive as we hopped from gallery to gallery on a mild Saturday evening in early Spring. Locals clustered at the Grapes Gallery (407 Main Street). One person I chatted with said that the food and music at their Art Hop events is a big draw for the T or C crowd. People were friendly and we felt welcome.

January Roberts, owner of January’s, a fun and funky consignment shop featuring anything from antiques and collectables to brand new items, says that many people come to T or C for the art. She says the Art Hop is a big draw for people from New Mexico cities like Socorro and Las Cruces, as well as El Paso, Texas.

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy meeting the people,” Roberts explained during a recent phone conversation. “They are wonderful.” And they spend money. People take home art each time they visit.

Grapes Gallery New Mexico Steve Collins

Visitors at the Grapes Gallery (Photo: Steve Collins)

Dining Out

After the Art Hop, head out to dinner and mull over the evening’s art while you dine on good food and sip a bit of wine. Local favorites include Latitude 33 (304 S. Pershing), offering contemporary Asian fusion, and Cafe Bella Luca (303 Jones Street), serving Italian food from pizza to entrees.

If you missed a gallery because you talked too much at a few of the others, you can visit it the following day. There’s always art in T or C.

The Details

The 2nd Saturday Art Hop is held in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on the second Saturday of each month from 6 to 9pm. Drive along Broadway and Main Street, the two main drags and look for signs.

About the Writer

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the USA. Billie is also co-owner of The Santa Fe Traveler, a trip-planning and tour business. You can find Billie on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Billie Frank

Billie Frank is a freelance travel, food and feature writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her blog, Santa Fe Travelers, is a treasure trove of information on the oldest capital city in the USA.