1 Find inspiration in the desert.

Two new exhibitions opening in Las Cruces on Friday highlight the connection between artists and their environments. Connection: Conjunto at the Branigan Cultural Center features pieces from more than 30 local artists considering their unique relationships to and understandings of the lands and communities in which they live.

At the Las Cruces Museum of Art, The Desert Was Red, and the Red Dust Was Raised features five women who live in Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas, and use their art to investigate the desert as a shared language. “The theme is the idea of how the landscape informs and influences an artist,” says exhibit manager and museum curator Jennifer McClung. “It’s been really fun seeing how each artist interprets that.”

The five abstract artists all worked in different mediums to produce the exhibition’s 35 pieces. Laura Turón, for example, creates abstract images with hashmarks flowing into each other. “We have seven of her pieces on paper and an on-site installation that takes up one wall of the gallery,” says McClung.

Both exhibitions open on Friday at 5 p.m. with receptions featuring the artists. They run through March 23.

Marshall Sharpe's "Game Night" is among the works included in Strata Gallery's "Selfhood" exhibition. Photograph courtesy of Strata Gallery.

2 Reflect on identity.

Santa Fe’s Strata Gallery presents Selfhood, a group exhibit by 30 artists that tackles ideas of selfhood and how it is constructed, changed, and reimagined. Guest juror Rosemary Meza-DesPlas selected the artists who explore aspects of identity and aim to uncover the elements that create a full idea of selfhood.

“The theme relates back to my own work, which touches upon feminism and gender identity,” says Meza-DesPlas, whose hand-stitched artworks often incorporate her own hair. “Selfhood can reflect cultural norms, it’s part of how we navigate social spaces. Selfhood is with you while you move through the world.”

Among the submissions, Meza-DesPlas found the work of Maggie Day inspiring. “Day surprised me by her nuanced depiction of the messiness of selfhood,” she says. “She suggested selfhood is not neatly arrived at but rather a quagmire for one to traverse.” The exhibit opens with a reception on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and runs through January 19.

The documentary "Anselm" follows the life and work of sculptor and artist Anselm Keifer. Photograph courtesy of Janus Films.

3 See an independent film.

The Santa Fe International Film Festival and Violet Crown kick off the new monthly Art House Cinema Series with Anselm, the 2023 SFIFF audience choice award winner, on Friday with screenings at 3:50, 6, and 8:15 p.m. The documentary by director Wim Wenders follows the life and work of artist Anselm Keifer. In February, see The Promised Land by Nikolaj Arcel.

American flags mark the graves of veterans, whose collective service begins with the Civil War and runs through the Korean War at Fairview Memorial Park. Photograph by Gabriella Marks. Gabriella Marks

4 Celebrate New Mexico’s birthday.

On Saturday, New Mexico turns 112 years old. Take in our rich history during a light hike at 11 a.m. through the Historic Fairview Cemetery in Albuquerque. Over 12,000 New Mexicans are buried in the cemetery, many of whom played important and interesting roles in the Land of Enchantment’s story. The birthday hike stops at more than 15 burial sites, including those of Governor John F. Simms, the 17th governor of the state, and Margaret Kent Medler, a socialite and supporter of the suffragette movement, who came to New Mexico in a covered wagon in 1880.

Head to the Sierra Vista Pool and jump into the 40-degree water for the Al’burrr’querque Polar Plunge. Photograph courtesy of the Al’burrr’querque Polar Plunge. Photograph courtesy of Dustin Lamar/City of Albuquerque.

5 Take the plunge for charity.

Dive into the 40-degree Sierra Vista Pool at the Al’Burr’Querque Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday at 10 a.m. The fundraiser benefits swimming lessons through ONE Albuquerque, and part of the proceeds will help support the polar bears and penguins at the BioPark Zoo.

Read more: For more things to do, check out our online calendar of events.