BY LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
“Fascinating,” remarked Christine Monteith with a smile as she described the adjustments the pandemic has brought to the operations of the Los Alamos Arts Council (LAAC). Monteith, who has been Executive Director of LAAC since July 2019, made her comment during a recent zoom meeting with the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Joining her was Ken Nebel, LAAC Assistant Director. Together they explained the eventful year LAAC and the Fuller Lodge Art Center have experienced.
In July of this year, the two organizations merged, hailing back to 1968 when there was only one local arts organization. In the late 1970s, the Fuller Lodge Art Center separated from LAAC, becoming its own entity in an effort to address the community’s different interests in the visual and the performing arts. Now, more than 40 years later, the two have merged in order to provide better outreach to the community, especially to schoolchildren.
Despite the pandemic and the obstacles imposed by restrictions, Nebel assured Rotarians that, “We’re here to stay.” To that end, the Fuller Lodge Art Center will re-open Wednesday, Dec. 2 and maintain its regular hours, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. At the time of the Rotary presentation, staff members at the Art Center were busily inventorying over 3000 pieces of art that had arrived in the last two weeks for the Art Center’s traditional holiday Affordable Arts Sale. To allow for social distancing, eight customers will be able shop at one time.
In addition to the community’s favorite artists, Nebel said there are new artists in the Affordable Arts Sales, too. He mentioned woodworkers in particular, and when asked, “Yes,” he said, “There are masks with New Mexico and holiday themes.”
Citing fundraising as the biggest challenge, Monteith mentioned that LAAC is a non-profit; donations are especially appreciated. The arts and crafts fairs that LAAC would ordinarily host in the spring and fall were both cancelled, as well as the Kite Festival and the Pumpkin Glow. Monteith encouraged Rotarians to visit an online crafts fair at http://www.losalamosartscouncil.org where numerous local and regional artists are featured.
To offset the financial setbacks suffered this year, LAAC is writing and applying for grants and “finding support from other sister organizations.”
If there have been any silver linings to this year in the arts, LAAC has found that its virtual presentations of the Brown Bag Concert Series have found viewers from all over the country, allowing friends and families and interested patrons to enjoy LAAC’s programs.
Monteith, a native of Los Alamos, participated in Los Alamos Arts Council events for more than 25 years and was an active Board member for four years before becoming the Arts Council’s Executive Director.
Nebel, also a Los Alamos native, holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University with a major in Illustration and a minor in Art History. In his position as the Assistant Director of the Los Alamos Arts Council, he manages both the Fuller Lodge Art Center and the Mesa Public Library Step Up Gallery. Nebel also owns and manages Village Arts, an art supply and framing store on DP Road. Its hours are 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, a charitable service organization, please contact: Laura Gonzales, president, (505) 699-5880 or Skip King, membership chair, (505)662-8832.