The City Art Board (CAB) is a seven-member volunteer board that serves in an advisory capacity to City Council on all matters related to Las Cruces public art. Members are appointed at large by the mayor and City Council for four-year terms.
Christina (Tina) Ballew completed her four-year term recently after serving as Chair for two years and Vice Chair in her last year. During Ms. Ballew’s tenure, the Board helped to establish a two-percent funding ordinance, completed three new public art projects, coordinated professional development workshops for artists, and participated in community outreach events to promote the public art program.
Ms. Ballew agreed to write a blog about her experience as a City Art Board member. Here it is in her words. Thanks for your service Tina!
Connecting to Community Through CAB
Christina Ballew, Artist, Business Owner, and Former CAB Chair
Volunteering on the City Art Board for the past four years has been an incredibly enriching experience for me. When I initially signed up to volunteer, I had no idea how much I would learn and grow through this opportunity.
One of the most valuable aspects of my time on the board was learning the process of purchasing public art. Selecting and acquiring artwork for public spaces taught me to appreciate different artistic styles and understand art's impact on a community. Through various funding sources such as GO bonds and CIP money, the board and other stakeholders carefully curate pieces that will enhance the visual appeal and cultural vibrancy of city-owned property.
Tree of Knowledge by Jeffie Brewer installed in Calle Abuelos Park in 2020.
Moreover, serving on the City Art Board allowed me to develop my leadership skills. After a six-month hiatus due to Covid-19, I was elected to be Chair. As Chair, you serve for one year with a maximum of two years. I quickly learned that effective leadership balances different perspectives and facilitates constructive discussions. I had to navigate through varying opinions, conflicting interests, and diverse personalities within the board. Encouraging open dialogue, finding common ground, and guiding the decision-making process toward consensus was crucial. As a result, I became a more confident and capable leader, able to manage discussions and contribute meaningfully to our board's initiatives.
"Cloud Cover" sculpture by Art Garcia installed on May 2023 at Fire Station #3.
The most fulfilling aspect of my volunteer work was realizing how much our City Art Board contributes to the local arts economy. Before my time on the Board, I had yet to learn about the opportunities the City offers local artists. I can admit that I had a misconception that local artists weren't being prioritized for big jobs before I joined; I used to ask myself, what does the city do for its artists? In truth, the opportunity has been there, but local artists' submissions for these projects could be better. So, the Art Board developed a series of workshops that help prepare local artists to be more competitive in public art calls. These workshops educate artists about obtaining a business license, having the correct insurance, and using the CaFÉ Call for Artist platform.
By supporting and promoting local artists, the City Art Board helps create a body of public art that attracts visitors, generates revenue, and fosters a sense of pride in our community. Witnessing the City Art Board’s tangible impact on artists and the local economy was eye-opening and gratifying.
I encourage others to consider volunteering to be on the City Art Board. Or, if you can't commit to four years, volunteer on a selection committee. This committee helps vet the proposals for art, select, and then recommend the selection to the City Art Board for a vote. Each selection committee comprises two city art board members, an owner of the city building or architect or developer, and a community member. You can experience the process from the call-for-art to installation. If you're an artist, you can apply that experience when submitting your art to future calls.
Katrina Chandler, CAB Chair, and Tina Ballew, CAB Vice Chair, setting up for Chalk the Plaza at the Mira Las Cruces festival.
Working on the City Art Board has expanded my knowledge of art, allowed me to grow as a leader, and provided me with the satisfaction of contributing to the local arts economy. Not only does volunteering for the City Art Board provide an opportunity to give back to the community, but it also offers personal and professional growth. I will continuously attribute new skills I have learned from my time on the board to things I do in daily life.
"Sun Shelter" sculpture by Vito DiBari installed on June 2023 at the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley.
If you want to engage with the arts meaningfully, develop valuable skills, and make a lasting impact on your city's cultural landscape, sign right up.
Contact the City Art Board liaison for more information on selection committees or fill out an application to be a board member. You can always join a meeting as a public participant to see behind-the-scenes conversations and help contribute ideas.
If you are interested in applying to serve on the City Art Board or other City committees and Boards go to Boards, Committees, Commissions for information.
Rubber Ducks blog is brought to you by the Las Cruces Public Art program to share ideas, information, discussions, trends, and all things public art. Please send comments and ideas for future blogs to [email protected].