Downtown artist, business owner committed to helping her community – Silvercity Daily Press

(Photo by Marcela Johnson Press Office)
Lidia Villegas displays one of her mosaic pieces, a dragonfly, at her LV Studio store.

Daily Press Intern
Artist and business owner Lydia Villegas said her shop has given her new projects and ways to connect with her community — and in the process, learned a lot about the women who make Silver City work.
Villegas runs LV Studio on Bullard Street, where she showcases her mosaic work, painted jackets and other found and upcycled items.
When she returned to Silver City in 2007, Villegas said she had to “reinvent” herself, and the art of mosaic tiles called to her.
“I started making mosaics,” she said. “I’ve always been into art, but this just challenged me, and just going out there and seeing how much trash we have is crazy.”
Villegas said she originally started the business as something she and her mother could do together before the pandemic. She said that when she creates her works, she focuses on repurposing old tiles without the use of machines, cutting all the pieces by hand.
“I try to give everything a second life,” she said. “As you can see, we live in a world of emissions.”
Villegas said she watches the world from her shop window and tries to find ways to help solve the problems she sees. From these observations, Villegas decided to start the group Fight Like A Girl.
The goal is to care for the community and create safe spaces whenever possible. The group’s motto is “See something, do something” and their symbol is a pink fist.
“We see what’s going on and everyone walks by like they don’t notice,” Villegas said. “I realize we’re already numb to some things, but you still have to do something about it.”
Villegas said the group provides services such as buying and distributing blankets for Silver City’s homeless population, setting up water bowls for animals and delivering medicine in case of an overdose.
Several downtown businesses display the organization’s symbol in their windows to show that their store is a safe place to lend a helping hand and that they are part of a community that cares about each other.
LV Studio’s inventory includes stickers and signs related to Fight Like A Girl, which Villegas also hands out freely to promote her cause. Villegas said she handed out pink fist stickers at Silver High School and Western New Mexico University.
“If I was at home, I’d be stuck in front of the TV watching all the chaos and it’s out of my control,” she said. “What can you do? Nothing—it only upsets and disturbs and does nothing. But for me, doing something is better than doing nothing.”
Villegas said the pandemic has hit businesses that surround her, such as Amma Guadalupe, hard, and that low foot traffic downtown has hurt them more.
“I took over from my predecessor on March 1st, 2020 and worked four days, so the first year, basically my social security paid the rent because there was no business,” said Amma Guadalupe owner Martha Blacklock.
According to Villegas, women own 70 percent of downtown businesses, and most of those owners have other jobs to support their stores, which affects how often those businesses can be open. She said downtown merchants work hard to support each other.
“Take a walk downtown,” she said. “See what you can find. It is a treasure – people from other countries come and they like it here, they really like it. This is a little hidden gem. I just need more of our community to support us when we don’t have tourists.”
Villegas’ work is now on display alongside that of Catherine Acosta Russo in this year’s Arte Chicano exhibit at the Silver City Museum. She said that it was her first time participating in such an exhibition.
Arte Chicano has been an annual exhibit at the Silver City Museum since 2016, and exhibit founder and downtown business owner Diana Ingalls Leiba hand-picked both featured artists for 2022.

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