Victoria Chick, a retired professor of art and art history at the University of San Diego and Palomar College, left California for Silver City six years ago.
“I was originally drawn here because it’s a city of art,” said Chick.
However, she was disappointed with the irregular hours of art galleries in town.
“We get a lot of visitors from out of town and neighboring counties,” Chick said. “Yes, they come here for nature, but when people come here, they also want to do things. “
This frustration sparked the spark of a dream for Chick – a fine art museum here in Silver City.
Two years ago, that spark turned into a flame when Chick founded the Southwest Regional Museum of Art and Art Center, or SWRMA, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation and exhibition of the American and Southwestern art, while educating and cultivating a future generation of artists.
The organization aims to inspire creativity, bring together community spirit, and educate and celebrate our culture.
Museum organizers have developed a three-step process, the first step being the acquisition of a Silver City building. After much research, the council hopes to purchase the Old Post Office, a historic building constructed in 1934, located at 412 W. Broadway, just across Pinos Altos Street from the Silver City Museum, dedicated to the history of the region. The goal is to transform the vacant two-story, 6,772 square foot property into a functioning museum.
Since the creation of the organization, they have received an endowment from an anonymous donor who will finance part of the running costs of the museum.
“We have also done extensive research on the viability of a museum in Silver City,” said Chris Saxman, board member. “We looked at our target audience, fundraising methods, staffing needs and the viability of different buildings. We even have artistic renderings of what the old post office will look like when renovated.
The second stage of the group will consist of redeveloping the old post office to adequately house the collection of more than 1,000 pieces.
“The permanent collection will consist of works by renowned artists like Gustave Baumann, as well as renowned American artists,” said Chick. “We also received a donation of a collection of 300-piece glasses from around the world.
“Once the museum opens, we will have an art research library open to the community,” she continued. “I mean, Grant County is so underserved. They basically took all the art programs from the schools.
“One of our goals is to eventually have a Mobile Art that can go to the most remote schools like Cliff and bring them arts education,” Saxman said. “We really hope we can get involved with schools.
“Did you notice that there is no graffiti [on the murals] in town? ”Chick added.“ It’s because of all the murals created by young people. Children respect each other’s work.
The group’s final step will be to add an additional 5,800 square feet of gallery space. When completed, the space will house an expansive gift shop, classrooms, an art research library, and workspaces for artists.
“We also plan to designate one day per month for free admission to the museum,” Chick said.
When can residents expect the Southwest Regional Museum of Art to open?
“It all depends on fundraising and the donation rate,” Saxman said. “We have a database of state and government grants and funding options. We are [also] rely on the community to come together and support the museum. If they do, then it will become a reality.
To this end, SWRMA will organize an open house at the old post office on Saturday, August 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.
SWRMA will follow the open house with a fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., which will also take place in the old post office building. The event will feature a private presentation on the future of the Southwest Regional Museum of Art and Art Center, with light meals and beverages provided to guests. Tickets for fundraising are $ 50 per person.
For more information, to make a reservation or to get involved, you can contact Victoria Chick at [email protected], or 575-405-1835.