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Cultural Festivals
See Some ARt, Enjoy Some Music At The Downtown Ramble
Marcus H. Royo

There was a time when people in Las Cruces would gather on Main St. on a Friday evening and just stroll from place to place, greeting their friends and waving to their neighbors as they drove by. Today, downtown Las Cruces is alive once again. As the downtown mall slowly gives way to the re-opening of Main St., many art galleries, restaurants and theaters are finding success with the area's revitalization. This is most evident on the first Friday of each month as local galleries play host to the Downtown Ramble. So you might be asking yourself, 'what is the Downtown Ramble?' Local artist and owner of the Blue Gate Gallery, Flo Dougherty, says it is simply an art walk.

"According to Webster, a ramble is a pleasurable stroll for enjoyment," Dougherty said. "And we hope it is, because we have art openings at each ramble. We serve light refreshments and we hope to make some sales." Dougherty said there are 12 businesses that take part in each ramble, each one hosting its own art openings and live entertainment. People are then free to stroll from one gallery to the next at their leisure, exploring what each one has to offer. Some of the galleries feature live musicians and performers during the ramble. Some of the latest rambles have featured tango dancers, drummers and open mic performances.

"Since this part of this corridor was fenced off for construction, there wasn't room for entertainment outdoors," Dougherty said. "But we may be picking up some." When the Downtown Ramble began about five years ago, it had a strong start, and the participating gallery owners were very enthusiastic. Dougherty spoke with fellow artist Catherine Brenner, who now owns the Unsettled Gallery on Mesquite St. "Catherine was working at the Southwest Environmental Center in developing their art gallery," Dougherty said. "And we had talked about having an art walk."

The amount of people that come out on the first Friday of each month is about 300, but even from the beginning it had a strong following. "It started out successfully, and it's kept up its momentum," Dougherty said. "An art walk is not something new; a lot of places have them. We thought we were ripe for one of our own." Today the gallery owners in downtown Las Cruces remain enthusiastic about the Downtown Ramble. The future also looks bright as they plan for upcoming events.

The July ramble, which took place on July 1, had a patriotic theme as the area businesses prepared to celebrate Independence Day. But there is an even bigger date on the horizon. The first Downtown Ramble of 2012 will take place on January 6, 100 years to the day after New Mexico became the 47th state in the union. "We're going to go along with the theme," Dougherty said. "And dress in the centennial mode of the celebration. It will be vintage."

If you decide to go, you don't have to ramble, you can wander, stroll or saunter. However you decide to do it, remember: admission is free. All you have to do is show up. The Downtown Ramble takes place on the first Friday of each month from 5 - 7 p.m. in the downtown mall area. Admission is free. Maps are available at the Max Phillips Gallery, 221 N. Main St. For more information call (575) 523-2950.