One of the finest collections of Southwestern books in the West

If you ever happen to find yourself in Las Cruces New Mexico, you owe it to yourself to stop and visit Bowlins Book Center in Mesilla.

Mesilla is one of the most-visited historic districts in the Southwest, and for good reason. A lovely square with a beautiful church at one end, numerous shops and galleries, the famous La Posta restaurant and the incomparable aforementioned bookstore.

Bowlins handles many hard to find titles on western history, culture, geography and arts. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please ask, as the proprietors can likely find it amid the stacks of books piled high on the counters and shelves.

This is the same Bowlin family that established a string of trading posts across New Mexico. It seems incongruous that the purveyors of jackalopes and cheap moccasins could also be the owners of this magnificent book shop, but it’s true.

On my most recent visit, old Mrs. Bowlin was in attendance, along with her daughter. The elder Mrs. Bowlin greeted all of the customers, inquiring after their literary needs, and making sure that everyone was finding that hidden gem. I’m not sure that every visitor realizes what a marvel this little shop is, but if you have a love of Western lore, you definitely need to stop here at least once on your travels.


Some good reading for aspiring artists

Here are a few good books on doing art shows, and marketing yourself as an artist:

Art Fair Sourcebook is the best database of show information on the top 600 shows in the country. Published yearly, it’s a subscription based product, available in geographic sections or as a whole. Online or print versions.

Maria Arango’s book, the Art Festival Guide, is very well-written, and worth reading. Her style is breezy, imaginative and the information she sets out is logical and based on her years of experience on the Southwestern show circuit.

Alyson Stanfield, an artist consultant with years of experience in museum and gallery management, has written a book that is a must-read for aspiring artists and experienced exhibitors alike. She’s inspirational, practical and she has a whirlwind of a life to boot! Her book, I’d Rather be in the Studio, covers many topics that aren’t strictly geared to show artists, but help get you out of the rut and creating new work, as well as marketing it.

NAIA also has a book called “The Art Fair Survival Guide” available on their site. I haven’t read this one, but it looks interesting. The approach is more anecdotal, and it is geared specifically towards show artists. Lots of other resources on their site for members, as well.

Jack White’s series on marketing and keeping inspired are also good, especially the “Magic of Selling Art“, if you can get by his ego. All of his titles are electronic (pdf) only.