It’s part of her job as collection manager/registrar at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.
While the museum’s mission is to connect the present generation to the history of farming and ranching in New Mexico, Radke and the museum staff have been working on growing the museum’s permanent collection to help inspire a deeper appreciation and understanding of the state’s rich heritage.
The museum recently unveiled six new pieces – all of which are recent acquisitions – to the public. While “Gimme Five” usually highlights a handful of hidden gems, I couldn’t leave one out.
In all, the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces, has a collection around 400 pieces which continues to grow.
“Acquiring these pieces has been amazing for the museum,” Radke says. “We have the pieces hanging in the museum’s central corridor.”
Radke says the artists will show work at the museum and sometimes it’s for sale. She will take notice and put it on her list.
“Some of the pieces are donated,” she says. “That’s how we add to our art collection.”
Radke says while the museum doesn’t display anything permanently, she expects these pieces to be hanging for at least the next year. She took some time to talk about each piece.
1. “Organ Mountains (2019),” by Robert Shufelt
Limited edition giclee print.
The drawing of a rider on horseback near the Organ Mountains is one of the most recent Shufelt works.
The Las Cruces artist is world-renowned for his ranch drawings of cowboys, horses and cattle. His work is highly realistic, having accurate details of the animals and equipment.
“Last July, Shufelt donated over 136 limited edition prints to our collection,” Radke says. “We’re very honored to have Bob’s work in the museum. ‘Organ Mountains’ is one of the most recent pieces he’d done.”
2. “The Bedroll (2000),” by William Matthews.
Framed original watercolor.
Radke says the Colorado-based Matthews has had a long and prolific career, spanning five decades.
“He has designed albums, painted book covers, traveled the world and documented it all in beautiful watercolor paintings,” she says. “He is best known for his depictions of the American West.”
Radke says Matthews’ paintings and murals appear on the walls on three continents and the halls of Congress.
“This piece was a donation and it was done through an art appraiser in Santa Fe,” she says. “We were asked if we would like to have it on our collection.”
3. “Tomlin Onion Farm (2020),” by Betty Krebbs
Original pastel on paper.
Radke says the inspiration for this painting is an onion farm in the Mesilla Valley.
A native New Yorker, Krebbs made New Mexico her home and became deeply connected to its history, culture, and natural beauty.
Her art, along with her husband’s oil paintings, were featured in a show at the museum last year.
“I asked Betty if she would donate it because of the subject matter,” Radke says. “Getting a piece like this helps us diversify our collection.”
4. “Puppy Training (2017),” by Charlene Parenteau
Original graphite and charcoal.
Radke says this artwork won Best of Show and the “Plainsman” award at the American Plains Artists Association 32nd Annual Juried Exhibit in 2017 at the Farm & Ranch Museum.
The Ontario, Canada artist grew up on a farm, which led to her passion for horses, dogs and wildlife. The drawing is of a child with a herding dog and sheep.
“This is my favorite,” Radke gushes. “We purchased this one and it’s our only international show piece. Even though Charlene is from Ontario, it was so well done that I asked the director if we could purchase it for the collection. It’s a slice of life on the farm.”
5. “A Face Anyone Could Love (2000),” by Linda St. Clair
Radke says St. Clair set herself apart as an innovator who creates animal portraits that explore the personalities of creatures great and small.
“This painting of a cow reflects her work that is characterized by the contrast of warm and cool colors, loose brushstrokes, and thin and thick textures,” Radke says.
6. “Braceros Series: Lettuce (2012),” by Jeri Desrochers
Radke says the painting of a farm worker in a lettuce field was created as part of a show on the Braceros Program.
Desrochers is a Las Cruces artist that grew up on a small, family farm and celebrates the joy of color and texture in her artwork.
“Jeri chose which painting that she wanted to let us have,” Radke says. “I was very happy to have pieces that she created. It adds another point of view.”