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Former Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett converted an RV garage on the East Mesa into a workshop and makeshift gallery for his brother, Las Cruces artist John Garrett, when John moved back to Las Cruces in 2013. John has filled the space with his unique and breathtakingly beautiful art, including wall hangings, baskets and sculptures made from natural fiber, scrap metal, synthetics, wood, found objects and the stuff of his imagination.
It all started for John, who grew up in Las Cruces, while he was attending Claremont Men's College (now Claremont McKenna College) in Claremont, California.
“I was thoroughly tired of the academics, so, in my junior year, I took a weaving class, and it sort of clicked with the loom,” John said.
Using a loom, he said, “You didn’t have to plan everything out. You could play. It’s endless. You start with something specific, and you experiment with that.”
Garrett did graduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles, and taught art classes and workshops at numerous schools in Los Angeles and on the East Coast before moving back to New Mexico in 1990. He lived in Los Chavez, Taos and Albuquerque before returning to Las Cruces eight years ago.
Garrett began a quilt series of wall hangings in the 1990s that he continues adding to.
“It’s very eclectic,” he said. “I use all kinds of things from my collection of materials.”
His “Winter Quilt” includes cooper, aluminum flashing, a compressed bedspring, needlepoint, grass seed, a recycled CD and beer coasters, which he glued together, covered with cheese cloth and painted.
He also makes “trinket nets” from scraps, including dominos, dice, poker chips, rulers, spools, buttons and rags. One custom-made trinket net included action-figure toys.
The nets and grids Garrett uses to hold his art pieces together include fencing material and fishing and tennis nets.
“Stuff comes into my life, and I respond,” Garrett said.
Other wall hangings incorporate bamboo and natural materials, as well as plastic, vinyl and other synthetics. He also makes shadowboxes, including one that has both a grade-school photo of himself, bamboo skewers wrapped in yarn and some of his late father’s tools.
Garrett makes baskets from metal, cloth dipped in paper pulp, natural fiber, found objects and scraps from his other art projects.
His work is on permanent display at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art Gallery in Santa Fe as well as galleries in Denver and St. Louis.
Garrett’s work over five decades is focused on “transformation, possibility, changing perspectives and the joy of life.”
It is the perfect way to ring out the old year or ring in the new one with unique and beautiful works of art, as Las Cruces artist John Garrett’s show “Now and Then: Artwork from Five Decades,” opens Dec. 3 and continues through Jan. 16, 2022, at Tombaugh Gallery, which is part of Unitarian Universalist Church, 2000 S. Solano Drive.
The show will have two opening receptions: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, at the gallery. There also will be two conversations with the artist, also at the gallery, 1 to 2 p.m. on both Saturday, Dec. 18, and Saturday, Jan. 8.
The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Call the gallery at 575-522-7281.