Sierra County Art & Architecture

hot springs mural at bullocks in torc

Sierra County is home to an extraordinary and eccentric group of painters, photographers, fiber artists, musicians, and artisans. Traditional arts and crafts flourish alongside cutting-edge contemporary art, creating a lively creative environment.

A comprehensive list of Sierra County studios, galleries, and other art-related businesses can be found in our shopping section. And we showcase our locally-made functional goods, and where to find them — everything from wine and beer to hand-made sun hats — in our artisans section.

Famous Names

Works by award winning artist (and Truth or Consequences hometowner) Delmas Howe are on view at the Geronimo Springs Museum, as well as at Rio Bravo Fine Art Gallery, the largest venue in the county, which was founded in 1999 by contemporary artist Harold Joe Waldrum (1934-2003). Howe’s colorful flower murals also adorn the exterior of the Truth or Consequences Civic Center.

Waldrum made his name in 1980s Taos and Santa Fe through his “churches,” a series of artworks depicting old adobe churches and moradas found in the villages of northern New Mexico.

WPA, New Deal, CCC and other Historical Architecture

A few highlights:

  • The New Mexico State Veterans Hospital, partially funded by WPA funds in 1937 (built as the Carrie Tingley Hospital for Crippled Children)
  • The Elephant Butte Dam Site Recreation Area, where CCC workers spent 6 years, 1934-40, constructing buildings, landscaping, roads and trails throughout the park
  • The Truth or Consequences Visitor Center, formerly the Lee Belle Johnson Senior Recreation Center, formerly the Hot Springs Community Center, built by the WPA in 1938 in the Spanish-Pueblo Revival style
  • The downtown “Geronimo Station” US Post Office, built as part of the New Deal in 1938, featuring an amazing WPA mural from 1940 (below)

Walking tours highlighting the historical aspects of downtown T or C are available monthly in winter and spring. Check our calendar for details.

boris deutsch wpa mural truth or consequences post office
“The Indian Bear Dance” by artist Boris Deutsch (1895-1978) was installed at the Hot Springs New Mexico Post Office in June 1940 under one of the federal arts programs created to employ artists during the Great Depression (1929-1943). (source) It is available for viewing at Main @ Jones during post office hours.
truth or consequences 2nd saturday art hop

Art Hop

Once a month, the town of Truth or Consequences throws a party, in the form of 2nd Saturday Art Hop, a downtown fixture since 2005.

Performance & Readings

Live shows and concerts happen at several venues around T or C, most often at T or C Brewing or Sidekixx. Kingston’s Black Range Lodge is a fabulous outdoor venue that hosts a summer series and the Annual Pickamania festival. The Hillsboro Community Center presents musicians and speakers who entertain and enlighten on a range of topics. The T or C Story Lab is held at the El Cortez Theater in season. And the Black Cat Poets read their work monthly, on the first Sunday, at Ingo’s Art Cafe.

Sierra County Arts Council

Information on many of Sierra County’s artists can be found on the Sierra County Arts Council website.  The SCAC sponsors music events throughout the year, and a series of Art Talks during the winter, at Rio Bravo Fine Art Gallery. The Arts Council’s Youtube Channel showcases many of our local musicians and artists. A sampling is below.

Arts Council Youtube videos

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T or C Murals

Colorful outdoor murals by various artists can be found all around T or C, everywhere from bath houses and shops to homes and vacant buildings, on the main streets and in alleys.

Craft Shows & Makers Markets

Several craft fairs occur annually, and work by artists of every variety, and from all age groups, is shown at the Sierra County Fair every October. Many quilts can be seen at the fair, but to see more than a hundred at once, from brand new to antique, visit during the Annual Gathering of Quilts each February at Ralph Edwards Auditorium.

Artists’ and artisans’ handiwork is offered every December at various holiday events, most notably the Elephant Butte Craft Show, the Monticello Holiday Store (2 weekends in December) and Hillsboro’s Christmas in the Foothills, with its legendary $49.99 Sale, an event that provides visitors an opportunity to acquire original artworks for less—sometimes far less—than market value.

The Sierra County Makers have a shop in downtown Truth or Consequences near the corner of McAdoo and Main.

Plein Air Painters

If you spot people standing next to easels in a park or on a street somewhere, that’s most likely the local plein air painting group. They set up around town to paint buildings, landscapes and whatever else is there. Occasionally the group displays and sells their work at an outdoor venue, such as Healing Waters Plaza.

Art Classes & Retreats

Painting, drawing, and sculpture classes are offered at galleries and studios in Hillsboro and Truth or Consequences. Look for flyers around town or get on the Arts Council’s mailing list for all the news.

Workshops in straw bale construction and other natural building methods are offered on occasion, most often in Kingston at the Black Range Lodge.

Artist residencies and other types of group retreats offer lodging and studio space for creatives around the county. The Dam Site Historic District and Recreation Area is currently offering photo tours and workshops.