Roswell A-I-R PHILOSOPHY
Well known by artists as the “Gift of Time”, the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Programwas established in 1967 to provide gifted studio based visual artists with the unique opportunity to concentrate on their work in a supportive, collegial environment for a whole year. This “gift of time” allows artists to work without distraction in an effort to break new ground and focus on individual goals.n-The Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program serves as a contemporary counterpoint to the traditional arts of the Southwest, reinforces the Program’s interest in strengthening the vitality of art in New Mexico and has been a catalyst in broadening community understanding of contemporary art.
Starting in 1969, the year Led Zeppelin came out with their first album, the Roswell Artist in Residence program offered artists not only the time to create but showcased their work to prominent business man and art patron Donald Anderson. Anderson earned his money from oil & gas and somewhere along the way turned into a painter. Maintaining the residency allowed Anderson to have art conversation in the town of Roswell while building his art collection, now housed in the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art.
Strange coincidence: I was on the math team in 7th and 8th grade with Chris Anderson, the grandson of Don Anderson. Of course, I had no idea about any of this art stuff happening around me and probably would not have been interested. Now, if Anderson was hosting Michael Jordan…
We must create our own heroes to make us feel good about ourselves. Artists can provide these images.
When I was about 14 or 15 my family was travelling through Albuquerque and I saw a sculpture by Luis Jimenez: Sodbuster. It is the first time I really wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be able to create something that monumental, that cool. Little did I know that Jimenez spent a lot of time in Roswell with Anderson as a patron. The Anderson collection boasts several fiberglass sculptures and drawings/prints, probably the largest collection of Jimenez works in the nation. I have seen another form of Sodbuster in Arizona and several of his works in Houston and El Paso.
The story I heard was that Jimenez was in the North East, broke in a way that only artists can be, and he heard about a guy in Roswell buying art, giving artists a place to work, etc… He called Don Anderson and Anderson told him not come. Jimenez packed up his truck and showed up a couple days later. After initially being put out, Anderson and Jimenez struck up a friendship that lasted until Jimenez’s death in 2006.
Strangely, I was not that interested in Jiminez himself until much later, but I was fascinated by the power of his work, in that strange other world he developed where comic book figures blended with ethnic reality and raised these figures to the status of demi-god. The characters flaws and faults become noble traits, unique and empowered rather than sterilized or condemned.