Although plans in Belen, New Mexico to build a museum honoring the work of artist Judy Chicago and her husband appear to have fallen by the wayside, a new effort is underway to put up a building that will celebrate her legacy and also serve as a working art space.
Chicago is internationally known for her feminist art and birth collaborative art installation pieces.
With her husband, photographer Donald Woodman, Chicago has led the renovation of the historic Belen Hotel, which partly serves as a studio and home for the couple.
Chicago has also founded a nonprofit group called Through the Flower, which is located in a one-story structure cater-corner to the Belen Hotel at 107 Becker Avenue.
Earlier this year, Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova thought it would be a good idea to establish a museum that would feature both Chicago and Woodman’s art.
That museum, according to the proposal, operating as a private/public project inside the building at 107 Becker Avenue, would also be staffed by a parttime employee paid by the City of Belen.
According to a study released by the New Mexico Economic Development Department, such a museum could over time attract tourist dollars to the tune of more than $300,000 a year.
An editorial in the Valencia County News-Bulletin has also endorsed the idea, contending that a “museum on Becker Avenue dedicated to two artists of such significance would bring visitors from around the state, the nation, and the globe.”
But responses from residents during a recent meeting of the Belen City Council, some of whom said they regarded Chicago’s work as offensive and pornographic, prompted Chicago herself to withdraw from the project.
Now an effort is underway, with Chicago’s support, to build an entirely separate structure that would serve as both a museum and work space. Soliciting support on the Go Fund Me website, the campaign has so far raised nearly $2,000 in mostly small donations, with a fundraising goal of $100,000.
As envisioned, the new structure, also to be built in Belen, will additionally house a video and book library, as well as a gift shop.
Where exactly that structure will go up has not yet been said.
By Garry Boulard
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