A Carlsbad resident received a much-deserved recognition from the state recently. Rosemary Wilkie was one of eight New Mexicans selected for the 2022 Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts. The awards were created to celebrate the extensive role that artists and their work have played in New Mexico, and the project is organized through the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and New Mexico Arts.
According to a press release, Rosemary Wilkie is the first of three generations of women saddle makers. She first started on saddle making in 1992 because her then  five-year-old son’s pony had a saddle that needed to be fixed.
Wilkie said she began repairing saddles by just picking up whatever materials were available. After she purchased a sewing machine and other tools, she began making more and more saddles.
Wilkie then began as an apprentice in the Folk Arts Master Apprentice program and worked her way up to master. She learned her trade from artists such as Billy Cogsdil and saddler Slim Green, according to interviews.
She has since worked with many apprentices in the tradition of saddle making and is considered one of the apprentice program’s success stories. Her daughter-in-law and granddaughters have also since picked up the trade.
She is credited with designing works of art that are also functional. Local law enforcement officers reportedly like working with her when they need leather holsters.
Wilkie received a special recognition at a meeting at the Carlsbad Museum on Thursday. We’re very honored to have talented artists such as Rosemary Wilkie in Carlsbad.
Other artists recognized this year through the Governor’s award included Julia Barello, a visual artist from Las Cruces; Eva Encinias, a flamenco instructor from Bernalillo; Arthur Lopez, a sculptor from Santa Fe; Beverly Spears, an, architect from Santa Fe; Tom and Bev Yaylor, art supporters in Farmington; Karen Yank, a sculptor from Golden; and Angie Yazzie, a potter from Taos Pueblo.
Special thanks to Wren Prather-Stroud, who is the Vice Chair for New Mexico Arts and one of Carlsbad’s greatest advocates when it comes to arts and culture at the state level. Prather-Stroud also has many wonderful works of art on display around the country and Carlsbad, such as the sculpture of General Mahaffey at the Cascades and the “Reader” at the Halagueno Arts Park, as well as “the Four Elements.”  She’s also hard at work on another local project that we’ll soon want to share.


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