Two organizations got placemaking grants from New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, including the Manzano Mountain Art Council in Mountainair.

The grant opportunity is an outgrowth of the 2015 Building Creative Communities Conference held in partnership with Department of Cultural Affairs’ Historic Preservation Division, and New Mexico’s Economic Development Department’s MainStreet Program, according to a press release.

Applicants were asked to propose a project for the historic commercial core of a town using the principles and practices of creative placemaking.

The Manzano Mountain Art Council will create three concrete benches featuring mosaic art to be located both in front of the art center, and in the center’s rear garden. The rear garden will be revitalized, cleared and cleaned up, with new landscaping, art and sculptures along with the new artistic seating areas.

The benches will draw attention to the historic downtown as people enter the historic district. The benches will highlight historic themes—the railroad, ranching, and Spanish settlement, based on photographs. The public art project will create gathering spaces, engage community members, and enrich the area’s artistic offerings.

“We are very pleased to support these rural communities in their efforts to create spaces where local arts and culture can thrive,” said Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Veronica N. Gonzales. “These projects highlight the creativity that exists across New Mexico.”

Placemaking projects were sought that demonstrated transformation of underutilized public or private spaces or properties to create vibrant usable space through clean-up activities, landscaping, temporary or permanent enhancements, streetscape improvements, signage, lighting, community garden, and public art.

“It has been exciting to see how our collaborative work on the Building Creative Communities Conference has evolved into financial support of hands-on projects in two of our state’s smaller communities, “ said New Mexico Arts Executive Director Loie Fecteau. “Arts and culture are important drivers of community building and economic development in our state.”

New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is the state arts agency.