When Las Crucens think of a weekend in the village of Cloudcroft, perched high in the Sacramento Mountains, they’re likely envisioning hiking, cycling, or camping or perhaps going to the historic Lodge for a delicious Sunday brunch at Rebecca’s. But Cloudcroft’s visual and performing arts scene also has a lot to offer, from week-long art workshops and melodramas in the park to murder mysteries to be solved.
Written by Cheryl A. Fallstead
Cloudcroft Art Workshops
Over 60 years ago, a group of art lovers in Cloudcroft had an idea: establish a summer series of five-day art workshops featuring nationally-known instructors and invite the world to come. They formed Cloudcroft Art Workshops and brought in renowned instructors. While the partners running the organization have changed over the years, the concept has not.
For nine weeks from June into August, artists come from New Mexico, surrounding states, and even across the country to take classes in oils, acrylics, watercolor, drawing, colored pencil, pastel, collage, and more. Students vary from beginners who are first-time workshop participants to long-time students of art who attend multiple workshops a year.
The instructors are just as diverse as the students. Workshop organizers search high and low to bring in the best art teachers. Cloudcroft’s old red brick schoolhouse, which is now the library, offers two large, airy classrooms where students bond with other artists while enhancing their skills under the direction of the esteemed art instructors.
Linda Carter, one of the partners running Cloudcroft Art Workshops, says, “We do draw artists primarily with national reputations.
It will be an exciting summer.”
Some of the board members attend workshops around the country, seeking new instructors to invite. This year, returning instructor David Barranti will teach motivational drawing and an advanced master drawing class. One student says, “He takes away all your inhibitions. You have no time for them!”
Eleven more instructors are on the schedule for this year. Students can learn to loosen up their abstract works, add depth to their landscapes, create depth and form in still lifes, and much more.
If you’re yearning to invest in a week pushing your artistic envelope in an inspiring New Mexican mountain environment, class descriptions, instructor biographies, and examples of their work are available at cloudcroftart.com.
Cloudcroft Light Opera Company
What’s a historic small town without a moustache-twirling villain, a damsel in distress, or a murder to be solved? The Cloudcroft Light Opera Company (CLOC) has been offering entertainment for a good cause since 1991. Each
year they perform a spring murder mystery that supports educational programs for local kids. Then they spend holiday weekends in the summer at the park performing melodramas, encouraging the audience to boo, hiss, throw popcorn, and cheer for the hero. The melodramas fund scholarship programs for local college students.
Mike Shinaberry, whose day job has him working in Alamogordo at the Space History Museum, moonlights in melodrama. He laughs, “How could you not love making a total fool of yourself being a melodramatic actor and raising money for kids’ education and school programs?”
Their murder mystery for this year took place in mid-March and included a meal catered by the high school’s culinary arts students and a silent auction to help raise funds for programs such as the Cloudcroft FFA, this year’s recipients. There were prizes for those who figured out “who dun it” plus the warm feeling of knowing everyone involved was supporting a good cause.
Over the summer, expect three melodramas to take place outdoors at Zenith Park. They are held around Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, with two to six performances each. “The melodramas are all free, but we pass the hat,” Mike explains. “We have a regular guy, George Collins, who comes out and ‘panhandles.’ All those funds go to scholarships to graduating seniors in Cloudcroft and area schools.”
As a non-profit, CLOC depends on volunteers of all ages, both on stage and behind the scenes. Mike says, “The reason everybody does it is to help the younger generation get their education and help the younger kids in different groups have success. That’s our whole motivation. We all have a stake in wanting these kids to succeed.”
Murder at The Lodge
Another place to enjoy a murder mystery at the historic Lodge Resort & Spa where NMSU’s musical theater students help stage a weekend-long event for guests. The weekend kicks off with a Friday evening champagne reception and dinner where guests are presented with facts about a “murder” and visit with the cast (who stay in character) to ask questions to help solve the mystery. Then they have all day Saturday to explore Cloudcroft and gather
more clues from shops and restaurants, before having another reception and buffet that evening—where a murder is staged! Sunday morning after brunch they find out who did the deed. Jonathan Mancillas, restaurant manager at Rebecca’s, says, “It’s basically a big game of Clue.”
Attendees have the option to include lodging with the package or just come for the meals and activities. The full package is currently $495 for a couple, $295 for a single, or $150 per person without lodging. They anticipate a fall murder mystery and another next February.
The Lodge hosts some visual arts over the summer, too. The Cloudcroft Art Society hosts three art shows over the holiday weekends, kicking off Friday afternoon and wrapping up
Sunday at noon.