From Mountainair Mud

On the left is a woman speaking behind a microphone; on the right is a woman seated with a ukulele.
Sidney Smart and Davine Torres

At the Manzano Mountain Arts Council (MMAC), Sidney Smart and Davine Torres presented Mountainair in Story and Song. Smart’s stories covered the history of Mountainair going back to the Cambrian Era, when Torrance County was the shallow sea floor over which swam trilobites and nautili. The presentation by Smart and Torres was more about the oral tradition and storytelling than academic history.

In a manner reminiscent of Timothy Egan’s oral history of the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time ( affiliate link), Smart’s stories focused in on the homesteading and bean farming era for the region. In between Smart’s anecdotes, Torres sang songs from "Diamonds in the Field," a historical musical, using her ukulele for accompaniment. Two key themes kept recurring in their works. First was the idea of coming from humble beginnings, of coming from “Mountainair mud,” as Smart described her childhood spent watching her father and siblings with horses and in her uncle’s grocery store (now the B Street Market). Second was the idea that, through all of Torrance County’s history, the coyote - the mythological trickster - was watching the process of colonization and preserving the traditions that composed the many identities of the area, from Anasazi to Pueblo, from bean-farming homesteader to modern rancher. Roughly sixty people attended the event at the MMAC building.

A woman performs behind a music stand with a ukulele
Davine Torres performs from "Diamonds in the Field"

Mountainair In Story and Song is the first of three events that are a part of MMAC’s February Speaker Series, all of which are at the MMAC building. The next event will be on February 11, 2023, at 2:00 PM, entitled Red Rocks, Punta de Agua, and Cottonwoods: Images of Persistence. Murt Sullivan, a former park ranger at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, will appear for this event, talking about the underground hydrology and geology that made it possible for Paleolithic tribes and modern farmers to live and work on the land here. On February 18, 2023, Gloria Zamora will present Local Land Grants of New Mexico, discussing the history of the Manzano land grant, as well as other land grants in the region. Those interested in attending these events should check the MMAC website for more details or contact the MMAC at 505-847-5068.


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