As I approach the end of my tenure as the exhibits director of the Durango Arts Center, I cannot help but reflect, with appreciation, on our community’s sincere support of the arts.
From the moment I stepped into this role, I benefited from the willing commitment, generosity and shared creativity of so many individuals and organizations, and I forged invaluable relationships with our vibrant community of artists and the greater Southwest region at large.
Over the past five years, I have strived to create an exhibit schedule that not only includes, but inspires, local artists with works that stimulate their creativity, and also presents to the public a high caliber of excellence through the display of internationally-acclaimed artists.
More than 50 exhibits and hundreds of artists later, our inspiration for future shows remains endless, because, in large part, of the engagement and vitality of our community. The Barbara Conrad Gallery is, at its bare, 1500 square feet of movable walls, rustic cement floors and track lighting. Once the idea of an exhibit begins to take shape, and the space is prepared, and the artwork flows in, and the public approaches – that is when the ideas and the work come alive as one.
Each month, we welcome an average of 700 people free of charge into the gallery along with their expectations of, and varying experiences with, visual art – ranging from the casual observer, to the sophisticated collector, to the passionate creator. Regardless of who enters, each can be said to hold a curiosity to the work within.
I am proud to have been a part of DAC’s ongoing efforts to share art with the community these past five years. Moving forward, I am confident that the organization will continue its whirlwind and wonderful task of bringing to our public “the stuff” of imagination, pure aesthetics, engaging, thought-provoking and visionary interpretations of art, along with a dynamic commitment to education and artistic development.
To that end, we encourage artists to enter DAC’s 40th annual Juried Exhibit, presided over this year by notable New Mexico painter and photographer Holly Roberts. By entering and being accepted into a juried show, an artist is offered an opportunity to gauge their development and, to some extent, it can be an endorsement of their skill and talent. This is an excellent opportunity for artists of all career levels to participate.
As I sign off, I wish to give sincere gratitude to the countless individuals and organizations (creative co-conspirators) who have contributed to the success of DAC’s exhibits program over the years. From my fellow staff, to our dedicated board of directors, the Exhibits Committee, volunteers, donors, patrons and, above all, the artists who have shared their creativity within these walls. The work continues, and I look forward to stepping back into the Durango Arts Center as a member of the community ready to be inspired.
Mary Puller is the outgoing exhibits director of the Durango Arts Center. More information, including the calendar and guidelines for the 40th Annual Juried Exhibit, can be found at www.durangoarts.org.