The Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts began in 2005, as an outreach of the Holy Cross Retreat Center. The desire is to promote art in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, support local artists, and provide income to the Retreat Center. The festival includes both religious art as well as a variety of other types of fine art. Starting with 25 artists, the festival in recent years welcomes about 90-100 artists and food vendors on the weekend before Labor Day each year. The festival was originally all outdoors in the courtyard. In recent years, many artists also use individual rooms or conference rooms to display their creative works.
This year in 2020, as a result of the impact of the corona virus, we are unable to gather as a group. Therefore, an online version of the festival is available. In place of walking through the booths, you can peruse samples of various artists, then contact them to consider one of the pieces displayed or something else they offer. You can then arrange payment directly with them, all safe from the potential threat of the virus.c.
We hope that you will enjoy this new format and continue to promote an appreciation for good art, support the artists who have limited opportunities to sell their work, and help sustain the Holy Cross Retreat Center for years to come!
If you have any questions or concerns please contact us and we will assist.
Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. Director of Holy Cross
Where we started…
The Holy Cross Retreat Center welcomed people for the first events in 1957. From the very beginning, besides have retreats of all kinds, Holy Cross has almost always had Festivals of some kind. In the early years there were barbecues, with a festive atmosphere. Following the barbecues the Franciscan Friars and their friends started a Craft Festival in about 1960.
By 1980 the event had grown larger and was taken over by the Doña Ana Arts Council. It was moved to the Las Cruces Mall and morphed into the Renaissance Fair at Young Park. A Fiesta was created as a public event.
Fr. Marcos Reyna and Bobbie Provencio changed the fiesta to become an Art Festival which continued till about 1997.
In 2005 Fr. Miguel Briseño developed the current Franciscan Festival of Fine Art. It has grown to include about 90 artists, (about half of them in an air conditioned room or under shade) several food vendors, a raffle and a silent auction of pieces donated by the artists. A wine and beer garden and live music on two stages helps create a welcoming, enjoyable atmosphere.
Approximately 4,000-5,000 people browse the artist booths, foods, enchilada and paella dinner each year on the weekend before Labor Day. It goes from 9:00am till 5:00 on Saturday, then there is a 9:00 Catholic Mass on Sunday and the festival ends at 4:00 pm with the raffle drawing.
Holy Cross Retreat Center is a unique gem in the community. The original adobe house is over 100 years old. The grounds are an oasis of serenity, surrounded by a pecan grove and containing many picturesque gardens and an attentive and friendly staff. The Holy Cross Chapel completed in 2015 provides a beautiful mission style architecture. Local artisans have filled the chapel with exquisite furniture, Stations of the Cross, stained glass, and statues. A rosary garden and labyrinth are part of the Chapel’s landscaping. A major goal of the Franciscan Art Festival is showcasing the Retreat Center to the public.
The Festival takes place south of Las Cruces in Mesilla Park. Take South Main Street two miles south of University Ave, then turn left at 600 Holy Cross Road. We are half mile off the highway and ready to welcome you!
A Special Year
We appreciate your interest in finding artwork for yourself or perhaps as a gift for someone else. Art draws on the creative spirit both in the artist as well as those who view the pieces. Hopefully, it will also inspire each of us to see beyond the casual appearances to sense the depth of beauty around us.
Holy Cross Retreat Center opened its doors in 1957 as a desert oasis of prayer, personal growth, and hospitality near Las Cruces, NM. While focusing on Catholic spirituality, the center welcomes all people in groups or as individuals at our hermitage. We extend a Franciscan welcome to those recuperating from medical procedures, immigrants, and those needing temporary shelter.
The proceeds of the Festival, especially during this year of the virus when so much has been canceled, provide needed income to continue this important mission and outreach. As many of you know, the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts is the major fundraising event sponsored by Holy Cross Retreat Center each year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot sponsor mass gatherings and so our on-site Festival had to be canceled at a time when raising funds for the Retreat Center is vital to continue our operations. The artists we partner with, many of whom have been with the Festival for years, are also suffering economic hardship during the pandemic.