Participants in a Manzano Mountain Art Council class creating mosaics.

Grantee Stories – Manzano Mountain Art Council

Participants in a Manzano Mountain Art Council class creating mosaics.

Manzano Mountain Art Council (MMAC) was formed in 1995 to promote art appreciation and programming in Mountainair and the surrounding Estancia Valley. Its 113-year-old building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of only a few commercial structures in the state to have a basement. With grants from the Foundation, MMAC preserves and improves the structure, a hub for artist workshops and gallery shows, community programming, studios for professional artists and a public event space.

“We have grown tremendously since we purchased the building about six years ago,” says Anne Ravenstone, Vice President and Membership and Programs Chair. “The support of Albuquerque Community Foundation has allowed us to preserve and renovate this structure that allows MMAC to offer a tremendous number of programs, workshops, performances and youth outreach to a small rural community with limited access to these activities.”

The old Willard Merchantile in Mountainair has over the years been a market, car dealership, and furniture store, among other purposes. Grant funding from the Foundation, as well as other resources, has been used to bring the electrical and plumbing up to code, replace the roof, renovate the windows and install an accessible entry door. Interior lighting and ventilation system improvements, a water catchment system, re-stuccoing exterior walls and new signage have also been done.

“Much more than simply benefiting the Council, these projects included work with local contractors and the purchase of materials and supplies from local vendors,” says Pat Havens, MMAC Board President. “We have older people in town who come in every now and then and say they remember when they were kids going into the basement for potatoes. And I met a man during an event whose father was a car dealer out of the building. There’s a rich history here.”

MMAC also sponsors the annual Sunflower Festival every August, one of the biggest events in the area, attracting thousands from surrounding communities for food, arts and crafts vendors, activities, music and celebration. Other annual events include the West Fest, a classical guitarist at the Quarai ruins, a Winter Lecture Series, Fall Music Series, “You are the Artist” workshops, youth programs and gallery art exhibitions that incorporate the many cultures represented in the Manzano Mountain region.

“This is a building where people can have fun, be safe, express and explore their creative side, and be part of the community,” continues Havens. “It’s great to be able to provide artistic opportunity and enjoyment at low or no cost to people in Mountainair and surrounding communities and land grants. Art is vital to physical, mental, and emotional health so our programs are vital. The Foundation helped make this possible for us.”