Las Cruces artist hopes celebrity drawings can benefit others


By Mike Cook

Las Cruces native James “Dusty” Richardson took a photo of his young daughter, Madelyn, one morning several years ago right after she got out of bed. Richardson and his wife, Erica, wanted the photo so they could show Madelyn as an adult what she had looked like as a young child “doing funny things” first thing in the morning.

The photo also sent Richardson on a personal journey of rediscovery, as a drawing he made from the photo reminded him of his love for drawing – a talent his wife didn’t even know he had.

Richardson has continued to draw ever since.

One of his most recent works of art, a pencil and charcoal drawing of actor Edward James Olmos, was auctioned for $1,000 at the April premiere of “Walking With Herb.” Olmos, who came to Las Cruces to film the movie, autographed the drawing for Richardson, and the money it made at auction was donated to Jardin de los Niños, the Las Cruces nonprofit that provides childcare and education to children and their families who are struggling with homelessness.

Richardson has also made drawings of other celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Robin Williams, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

He hopes to complete “a whole series of celebrities,” and, if possible, get them autographed and auction them off like the Olmos drawing to benefit those in need.

“If this is the way I can help, that’s awesome,” said Richardson, who is a self-taught artist.

Richardson first got interested in art at about age 5, he said, when his father, James Ricardson III, began taking him to Branigan Cultural Center (BCC), where the elder Richardson served as the first curator when BCC opened in 1981 and is commemorated in its Richardson Gallery.

The younger Richardson graduated from Oñate High School, where he played the baritone, trombone, tuba and drums, in 1994.

Now a stay-at-home dad, Richardson said his family comes first, but he finds time to draw at the dining room table after Madelyn, now 7, and younger daughter, Marlee, 4, have gone to bed. His stepson, Anjel, 19, is going into the U.S. Army in August.

Richardson said he would love to be a full-time artist, working on private commissions. But doing more art to benefit Jardin “just to help out, would be ideal,” he said.

“I’m so glad I was able to get back into it,” Richardson said.

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