The Belen ART League was founded in 1956 by Lily Tabet and Edythe Peter.   Originally a social gathering of artists, who came together to share their techniques as well as their love of creating art, they met at various meeting rooms in Belen, New Mexico.  They held art exhibits at the Harvey House Museum twice a year, as the league continues to do now, but had no place to call their own.  

The group grew and the city offered them their choice of buildings in the historic district now known as the Heart of Belen.  They chose a building built in the 1970's that used to be the home of the Belen Senior Center because it would need the least amount of work.  It was in sad shape, but they managed to turn it into a functional space.  Initially they saw it as a place to gather in an open studio setting, where they could socialize while they worked, but the city wanted an art gallery so it became the first permanent home to art displays in Belen, New Mexico. 

The league painted the front teal, but the city changed it to the New Mexico tan you see in my photo above.  They did allow the door to be turquoise, which sets it off quite well.  The logo, and in fact the logo sign on the front of the building, was created by Dorthea Von Eckhart, a former Madison Avenue graphic artist, who contributed much to the league and taught oil painting until she took ill in 2009. 

The little building next door to the gallery, the former home of the RSVP (Retired Seniors Volunteer Program), was set up as the Camino Real Museum, until the roof leaked and damaged some of the displays.  The city fixed the roof, created a passage between the two buildings and turned it over to be part of the gallery in 2009.  January 2010 saw the grand opening of the West Wing which included fiber art displays, art prints, ceramic art exhibits and more.  This left more room for the art exhibits in the original part of the gallery.  Over the years the exterior in back of the two buildings has been enclosed and turned into a lovely garden that serves as a summer time concert and party space.

Today the Belen ART League is a non-profit organization comprised of artists primarily from Belen and other parts of Valencia County, New Mexico, though the membership includes supporters from all over.  The members include artists of every media and style.  Several of the members teach classes in the gallery classroom.  All members share in running the business on a volunteer basis.  Club meetings are held monthly at the gallery.  The league hosts several functions each year including the ever popular annual Valentine Tea,  which is a fund raiser for the Dorthea Von Eckhart Memorial Scholarship that's given out to a deserving Belen High School art student.

Belen ART League Gallery & Gifts

509 Becker Avenue

Belen, New Mexico

(505) 861-0217


Belen ART League Gallery & Gifts

© JASMIN 2010

I took this shot specifically for this page.

White gallery photo taken by Lorraine Doty in early 2003, supplied by Lorraine Doty.

Teal gallery photo with Dorthea Von Eckhart taken by unknown in July 2004, supplied by Lorraine Doty.

Rosetta Hackman and RSVP Director Sandy Schauer in front of the RSVP office in May of 1976 taken by unknown, supplied by Sandy Schauer.

My 2009 Gallery Photos

Belen ART League Gallery

Reception Room

Reception Room

Second Room

Jewelry Case

Photo Room

My 2010 Gallery Photos

Reception Room

Reception Room

West Wing Main Room

Second Room

Jewelry Case

Photo Room

My 2012 Gallery Photos

Reception Room

Second Room

Photo Room

West Wing Main Room

West Wing Second Room

My Contributions

2004              - Joined the art league when I moved to Belen in January.

2004 - 2012 - Displayed my art, photography, jewelry and crochet work at the gallery

                       - Tended the gallery one day a month (except for when my work schedule conflicted)

                       - Wrapped Valentine Tea door prizes

                       - Donated Valentine tea door prizes

                       - Hung the semi-annual shows I had work in

2006 - 2007 - Organized the west closet, reception desk and kitchen

                       - Donated containers, drawer dividers and all labeling supplies

                       - Donated a Coca Cola vending machine tin bank for the collection of beverage money

                       - Donated tissue paper for wrapping purchases

2009              - Donated tall laundry basket for Valentine Tea wrapping paper rolls

                       - Donated wrapping paper for Valentine Tea door prizes

2009 - 2011 - Graphically designed all event flyers for all events

2010              - Secured donations of two office chairs for the reception desk

                       - Secured donation of an accent table for business card display

                       - Created Belen ART League page on my (this) website

                       - Created a temporary display for the Camino Real wall in the west wing

                       - Assisted in the gathering, sorting and organizing of John Bock's art supplies

2010 - 2012 - Curated the Photography Room

                       - Posted Belen ART League online and maintained event notices with 

                       - Created front door signage for gallery hours, internet connections, special hours and semi-annual show closures

                       - Maintained consistent branding for the league

                       - Had my gallery photos published on the brochure (printed brochure rights only)

                       - Created an unused Desk Reference book for the front desk

                       - Created and maintained a customer mailing list sign-up sheet

                       - E-mailed event flyers to customers on mailing list

                       - Promoted the need for physical mailings to mailing list customers without e-mail

                       - Promoted the need for merchandising

                       - Promoted the need for a website, 

                       - Conceived of a plan to get the club a website (like this one), that generated income for the club and all members

                       - Conceived of a plan to work with my film connections to create video products for the club and all members

2011              - Held office of Secretary

                       - Newsletter Editor / Graphic Artist (first non-president to create the newsletter)

                       - Took newsletter from plain text to a graphically designed instrument befitting an art league

                       - Photographically documented all club events

                       - Created gallery door signage

                       - Included the gallery in the Small Business Saturday initiative

                       - Created cover art for the Inventory Log, Artists Bio Book and Consignment Artists Book

                       - Improved gallery safety by initiating the procurement of additional fire extinguishers

                       - Conceived of the slogan "Belen ART League - Putting the Heart in Art in the Heart of Belen" ( (c) JASMIN 2011)

                       - Conceived of an adjustable, multi-artist, raised print bin for the center of the photography room

2011 - 2012 - Created the gallery attendant calendar for the desk and newsletter

2012              - Newsletter Graphic Artist - created 12 issues, only 5 got published

My Observations

In 2004 the attitude was "We're not a business, we're a non-profit".  It took three years to convince them the art league is a non-profit business.

As of 2011 some members argued that the gallery was not a store (a retail establishment selling goods to the public) because all the members did not think of it as a store.

Some members do not understand that posted hours are a commitment to potential visitors and must be adhered to or that that commitment applies to special event hours as well as posted gallery hours

There is no quality criteria for work to hang in the gallery.  The only requirements are that the artist is a member in good standing and they fulfill the gallery attendant commitment.

Much of the artwork is severely under priced which undervalues the work and places the professional artists on the spot to defend their pricing.

Although club membership includes a growing number of professional artists club policies continue to favor the non-professionals.  There's an inordinate concern about loosing members if policies are updated to be more professional.

All decisions and elections are done at the meetings therefore only about 10% of the members, those attending the meetings, decide all the club policies and elections of officers.

Issues are usually brought up, discussed and voted on at the same meeting, leaving out anyone who wasn't in attendance.

There is no written job description for officers, board members, committee chairs, etc..

There are no length of membership or skill requirements for being an officer.

From 2008 through 2012 the club didn't have a Ways and Means committee even though it's required by the by-laws and the members always complained that not enough money was being made.

Fundraisers are under publicized and therefore attract only other members and local residents.

Members pay dues and show entry fees then are expected to supply event refreshments, cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies, paper goods, wrapping paper, door prizes, raffle prizes and any other supplies the gallery needs.

Despite my best efforts there is no branding or marketing campaign to speak of.

The league has no concept of world-wide publicity and/or sales.

There is no club policy on privacy to prevent members from giving out other member's contact information.

At the end of 2011 I, and the rest of the board, charged a member with the responsibility of forming a committee to research and report on the various types of websites available so the board could choose the type that would best represent the league.  Not only did that member not form the required committee, but they put up a privately owned site of their choosing without the boards knowledge much less permission.  That site supposedly represents the gallery, but it is not transferable so the league can never own it.  Furthermore it was put up with complete disregard for copyright laws in that it plagiarized this copyrighted website and some of my copyrighted photography.  Illegal actions such as this could damage the league's 501c3 standing yet the site not only remains but continues the illegal use of one of my photographs.  No disiplinary actions were taken which indicates that the board condones this copyright infringing site.  (Copyright infringement can bear a penalty of $150,000.)