Seventh New Mexico Painters Exhibition Will Be Virtual

August 26, 2020

“Homage” oil painting by Lee MacLeod

“Homage” oil painting by Lee MacLeod

Las Vegas, N.M – This year marks the seventh New Mexico Painters Exhibition at Highlands University, which will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual exhibition will be launched online Oct. 18 at

“The most important thing about the virtual exhibition is that in this difficult time, we’re still able to hold this exhibition and bring it to people wherever they are, hopefully brightening their day with some fantastic art,” said Renée Buchanan, Highlands Foundation art curator.

Buchanan has co-curated the New Mexico Painters Exhibition since 2017.

“Nearly 50 painters are participating in the exhibition this year, which is consistent with past years. For the past six years, Highlands has hosted this one-of-a-kind juried exhibition as an invitational survey of contemporary painting that Dr. Robert Bell founded.

“This is an important exhibition because it showcases a comprehensive survey on the unique and excellent painting produced in New Mexico,” Buchanan said.

Since its inception in 2014, the New Mexico Painters Exhibition has showcased more than 370 established and up-and-coming artists from Las Vegas and throughout Northern New Mexico. Some of the up-and-coming artists are students from Highlands University.

“The medium of painting has a long tradition in New Mexico and artists continue to use it in innovative and exciting ways,” Buchanan said.

Featured on the exhibition’s advertising materials this year is Santa Fe painter Lee MacLeod’s oil painting, “Homage.”

Robert Bell is a Santa Fe art collector, art patron, author and longtime Las Vegas ophthalmologist.

Since 2012, Bell and his wife Stirling Puck have donated more than 800 paintings to the Dr. Robert Bell and Dr. Stirling Puck Permanent Art Collection at Highlands. Since 2001, Bell has also donated more than 2,500 original fine art prints to Highlands and teaches a popular print lecture series at the university.

“The reason we donate art to Highlands is that the university uses it as a teaching collection for students and the community. We have absolutely fantastic contemporary artists in New Mexico who rarely get museum shows. The New Mexico Painters Exhibition showcases these artists’ work,” Bell said.

Buchanan said, “Dr. Bell’s enthusiasm and commitment have allowed the New Mexico Painters Exhibition to grow into a cultural treasure.”

Jim Mann, who curated more than 50 exhibitions for the Las Vegas Art Museum in Nevada, curated the New Mexico Painters Exhibition from 2014 – 2016. Since 2017, Buchanan and Mann have co-curated the exhibition.

“These New Mexico artists demonstrate an accomplished awareness of contemporary developments in international art,” Mann said. “Their sophistication and creative imagination are impressive.”

Buchanan said a physical exhibition is pending for the Seventh New Mexico Painters Exhibition in the Margaret Kennedy Alumni Hall at 905 University, with a possible opening date of Oct. 19. Due to COVID-19 health mandates for gathering sizes, there will not be an opening reception.

“We hope to develop a way for people to view the exhibition that observes all the state health mandates for COVID-19. Check the Kennedy Gallery website for updates,” Buchanan said.

For more information about the Seventh New Mexico Painters Exhibition, contact Buchanan at