I was heading to Austin, Tx from Colorado traveling along N.M. Route 39 and you know I always take the scenic route. We’ll driving across the vast open grasslands and red canyons of northeastern New Mexico, this little town stopped me in my tracks. I had suddenly come across storefronts covered in bright murals that I found out  later tell the story of the town’s past and present.  In fact, every person painted on the walls has a name and a story. Some of them still live here.

I was happy to find that this rural community is supporting the arts through education. The Paint the Town project was born in 2008 with a modest rural education grant to Mosquero Schools’ state-of-the-art multimedia education program. They recruited artist Doug Quarles, who had already developed his own active mural projects, along historic Route 66.

Doug has spent a day or two every week teaching Mosquero students to make murals. Students repair and replaster the old adobe surfaces, select subjects and images, scale the images to the walls, and apply layers of paint. Gabriel Trujillo was a lead artist the first two years and has continued to lend his hand since his 2010 graduation.

Another student, J.D. Chatfield, grew into a lead role and stold me “It’s fun,” while we were sitting on a bench next to the painting of two cowboys, one of whom represents his father, Jack. “A lot of us come from ranches,” J.D. said. “This project gives us freedom and responsibility.

Aaron Martinez, a head painter and 2012 graduate told me “It makes people happy,” said “The older people are proud of the town, and the tourists stop and take pictures.”

Sounds like the arts is a wise investment after all!  Who knew?

Ok, I did.  I apologize, I was just being facetious.

Love, Bella