I hope everyone knows Center of Southwest Studies is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Situated on the southern end of the Fort Lewis College campus, the center contains a spacious gallery, the Delaney Library, classrooms, offices and an enormous underground archive. Next week, a number of special events launch a summer of interesting and provocative projects.
Betting that even Durangoans sometimes escape into air-conditioning on a hot summer day, the center has inaugurated an afternoon lecture series. It’s an experiment, and you are all invited.
Last summer, Director Jay Harrison got the idea when he encouraged me to give an encore presentation on Georgia O’Keeffe. I had given it earlier in the college’s Life Long Learning series. Enough people indicated interest in a repeat, so we made afternoon arrangements in June. To our surprise, 85 people showed up. So much for the myth that everyone wants to be biking, hiking, riding or rafting on a hot summer day.
A week later, Jay called and asked if I would organize a lecture series for 2014. If you’re a center volunteer, none of this will surprise you. He’s got a small army of people who say yes to his requests.
OK, I said, but what about a theme? Not to worry. The theme is the 50th anniversary, Jay said, and added: “If you can get an expert on Antarctica’s penguins to speak for free, it’s a ‘go.’”
Everyone’s a volunteer on this project, and the lectures are free.
Scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Lyceum, the series will begin June 18, with a favorite subject of Jay’s: “Jews, Christians and Moors in the Southwest Borderlands.” He’s a well-regarded historian of the Southwest, and, for a long time, has wanted to work this material into a lecture.
Two weeks later, July 2, adjunct FLC art professor Barbara Klema will speak on the Taos Society of Artists. She’s fascinated by the TSA story. Then Barbara and I put our heads together and created back-to-back talks.
My presentation will be July 9: “Mabel Dodge Luhan: Utopian Dreams and Taos Realities.” Because I’m a journalist, I’ll balance chamber-of-commerce hyperbole with critical interpretations of her bizarre life. If there’s time, I’ll include a parody of the Buffalo debutante who found her cosmic purpose in New Mexico. You get the drift.
On July 23, Bob Griffith, a dynamic speaker and expert on rock ’n’ roll, will examine the musical and cultural wheels of change that span the center’s five-decade lifetime. Before retiring to Durango, he was a Los Angeles radio executive who expatriated to Google. Be prepared for lots of music.
Two weeks later, Aug. 6, Jay will interview Duane Smith, emeritus professor of history at FLC, about the center’s first half century. And on Aug. 20, Syl Allred will reprise a talk on tassel-eared squirrels and ponderosa pines. A retired biology professor from Arizona, Allred wowed everyone last year at a Life Long Learning program. He’s a wonderful, science-based storyteller.
See arts briefs on 2B for more information. Happy anniversary, Southwest Studies.
email@example.com. Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic.