Pecos River

This pastel of the Pecos River south of Villanueva in San Miguel County is featured in the traveling centennial exhibit “Good Morning New Mexico” at the Ray Drew Gallery through Oct. 29.

Las Vegas, N.M. — The New Mexico Highlands University Ray Drew Gallery features Good Morning New Mexico, a traveling exhibit by renowned painter Georgie Sichler Bemis that celebrates New Mexico’s 2012 centennial as a state.

The exhibit includes landscape paintings of New Mexico’s 33 counties and continues through Oct. 29. The Ray Drew Gallery is in the university’s Donnelly Library, 802 National Ave. and is open Monday — Friday 8 a.m. — 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 ¬≠– 5 p.m.

In 2010 and 2011, Bemis traversed the state in search of striking landscapes that captured the diversity of New Mexico’s natural beauty, including mountains, rivers, bosque, mesas, rock formations, and deserts. Along the way, she also found several timeless views of rural life and small towns.

Bemis photographed all the scenes in early morning, when the interplay of diffuse light and shadows is ideal for revealing subtle detail. She returned to her Albuquerque studio to paint each landscape.

Examples of paintings in the exhibit include the Pecos River south of Villanueva in San Miguel County, the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque in Bernalillo County, and rock formations west of Roy in Mora County.

“These paintings are not only about what New Mexico has to offer in each county, but also the emotions I felt as I was traveling across the state,” Bemis said. “I painted in different styles to help show the variety of scenery in our state. I used oils both with a brush and with a pallet knife, pastels both wet and dry, pastel pencils, watercolors, and watercolors with some pastel to enhance the mood.”

Bemis, a fifth-generation New Mexican, is an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited in the United States and internationally. Her work is included in many corporate and private collections. Bemis is represented by Framing Concepts Gallery in Albuquerque, among others. She teaches painting workshops across the country.

Bob Read is the curator for the Ray Drew Gallery and the university’s fine arts librarian.

“It’s not just Bemis’ good work that carries this show, it’s also her handling of the subject matter through using oils, pastels and watercolors well to bring out distinct visual images of New Mexico,” Read said. “You’ll see scenes ranging from lush to arid, and all the seasons.

“Coming into the gallery, you go on a road trip of the beauty of New Mexico. It’s like a geography lesson combined with art. This is a centennial show that has universal appeal to all New Mexicans,” Read said.

Bemis also wrote and published a booklet about her experiences finding and photographing each county scene.

Highlands University is one of 11 sites across the state to feature the Good Morning New Mexico exhibit this year. Read said that the Las Vegas Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation played an important role in bringing the exhibit to the Ray Drew Gallery.

Sponsors for the exhibit include the Historical Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque Historical Society, Bernalillo County, and Framing Concepts Gallery.