My affiliation with the Henderson Art Association, from the get-go, was serendipitous if planned at all. Driving home one breezy evening 4 years ago, listening to 88.9 KNPR, I heard an announcement for Third Thursday in downtown Henderson or, as Susanne Reese (who I hadn't yet met) would later educate me, in "the heart of the Water Street District." I marked it on my calendar and, when that day arrived, so too did I, at the Old Town Gallery.
Although I knew no one and this historic part of Henderson was completely new to me, I was welcomed by a lovely group of artists and patrons. Immediately I felt at ease, at home, among friends. The gallery and the streets were abuzz with foot traffic. Wine poured. Beer flowed. Live music played. The room filled to near capacity. Other galleries? Same thing. It was a quietly kept secret.
I went on to inquire about getting some of my own art up on the walls and a gracious Kelly Anaya (Green) was kind enough to tell me about the jury process. I later submitted my work and it got in. The gallery remained and artists continued to show and support one another.
Then, within a few short months, things took a turn. The economy began to slow. The lease came up. The rent doubled or tripled. An executive decision was made not to renew. The gallery was replaced by a furniture store. Leadership changed hands several times. But a few stood steadfast and continued to move the organization forward. And, with the digital revolution upon us, two and a half years ago, this blog was born to continue the momentum of that dedicated group online, perhaps in its absence in the physical world. I am proud to have been part of the Henderson Art Association and, for a short while, a member of its leadership. But all good things must come to an end.
The HAA had amassed a modest fan base here. 29 followers. Thank you. As you may have noticed, the most recent post before this one is from October of last year following a stellar presentation by Jelaine Faunce, the final featured guest in the HAA Speaker Series. Her content was brilliant. The group in attendance was riveted. There just weren't that many of them. It was at that point that I, personally, was faced with making the hard decision to return my attention to my own creativity, forsaking pursuits (like this one) that may have, in some small way, benefited the group. And now, in similar fashion, the organization too is winding down, not necessarily because that's what it wants to do. But, after many years of maintaining, it seems it's what it needs to do. On a positive note, the cultural arts movement is alive and well in southern Nevada and plenty of artists are blazing trails on their own.
Current HAA President Deborah Mays, the board of directors, and affiliate members have done a tremendous job of keeping the organization alive and in great operating shape. But running any business (even a not-for-profit artists' group) requires time, maintenance, passion, commitment, and, if not youth, youthful enthusiasm that is hopefully contagious and shared by all.
Thank you, HAA, and readers, for giving me a place to share my work and a reason to write. I have made many friends and a few valuable acquaintances. I know those who founded the organization and achieved membership long before me share similar sentiments. Thank you all for coming out, showing your support, making beautiful things, and sharing them with the world. What leaves with the closing of these doors remains in each of our hearts.
Finally, here is the official letter from Deborah Mays sent to all current artists in good standing, informing them of the board's decision. This is a small community. I'm sure we will see each other somewhere and this blog will remain if anyone ever cares to sift through the archives. Between us all, we accomplished wonderful things and made the community an aesthetically richer place. For all of it, each of us who contributed in any way should be incredibly proud. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, stay creative.