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Tribute to Nina Adkins

Nina Adkins

July 1, 1942 — December 29, 2023

Nina Macaluso Adkins, loving wife, mother, sister, teacher, nurse, and artist died peacefully in her sleep Friday, December 29, 2023. Nina was given five years to live after the diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis in 2011 and just like her feisty spirit - she lived and beat that disease for 12 years. 


Nina was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. She attended St. Mary's School for 12 years and graduated from the University of New Mexico nursing program in 1965. Nina married William Adkins on June 6, 1964 and had 59 years of glorious wedded bliss, as she would say. Nina worked as a public health nurse, a school nurse, practicing Registered Nurse, and nurse educator for more than 38 years. She earned a master's degree in education and co-founded the Albuquerque Public School's Practical Nursing Program, from which she retired as the Director in 1998. Nina formed an incredible bond with her colleagues known as the CEC Sisters and joined them for their annual reunion just this past October.


Many students of Nina's have reached out to family to express the incredible impact she has had on their lives and the countless lives of patients they have treated.


After retirement, Nina became very active in the art community. She was a watercolor, acrylic and collage artist. Her work is brightly colored and joyful. She was an award-winning signature member of the New Mexico Watercolor Society and showcased her art in The Gallery ABQ as a founding member (formerly Nob Hill Gallery) and the Yucca Art Gallery. In 2022, Nina was honored as a Local Treasure by the Albuquerque Art Business Association.


Nina loved to travel. In retirement, she and Bill traveled the world, and her favorite trip was the two weeks she spent in Italy with her family in 2015.


Nina is survived by her husband, William Adkins; daughter, Lisa Adkins, her partner, John Mierzwa, and grandson, Jordan Vinson and his fiancée, Airika Ames; daughter, Andi Adkins-Pogue, her husband, Brian Pogue, and grandson, Daniel Pogue. She also leaves behind many cousins, nieces, and nephews of several generations.


A celebration of Nina's life will take place on Saturday, February 17, 2024, 11:00 a.m., at FRENCH - Lomas. Nina loved color - please don't wear black - wear your brightest colors. As a passionate supporter of reproductive rights, Nina asked that you donate to Planned Parenthood in lieu of flowers.


Gallery Artist Greg Lujan Profiled in the ABQ Journal

March 21, 2021

On March 21, 2021, The Gallery presented the donation check to New Mexico BioPark Society (NMBPS) in the amount of $1451.00. Rich Grainger, Development Director came to the Gallery for the short presentation.


This check was from the sales we had for the January’s show and sales for “In Memoriam, The Nature Photography of Jeremy Stein”, and we continued to display his prints through February.  After Jeremy’s family donated his artwork to the gallery, we have decided to use them for other collaborations within the community. We will let you all know when the next sale of Jeremy’s photography will be on display. In the meantime, you can still purchase prints of Jeremy's art at our website:

Monies that we receive, less our normal commission will be put in a fund for the next donation. We wish to thank Nancy Norem and Jeremy’s daughter for their kind donation of Jeremy’s Photography. We will continue to honor him and give to the community he loved.

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Albuquerque Journal, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020

Albuquerque Journal, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

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Patricia Cream, left, and Leah Mitchell admire the mosaic they created with friends and family in the backyard of their Old Town home. The women began the mosaic May 2 to pass the time during the COVID-19 shutdown. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)




Published: Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 at 10:05pm


It got to the point, rather quickly, when they had finished all the puzzles in the house – and then all the puzzles in the neighborhood that they could borrow.

And it was only May.

“If not for COVID-19, we’d also be traveling, visiting our kids, working outside the home,” said Cream, director of The Gallery ABQ, an artist co-op forced to close in March until it partly reopened in June. “We had to cancel a trip to France.”

So, puzzles.

But with their supply gone dry, the women decided to put pieces together in a different, more artful and unique way – by creating a mosaic.

Mitchell, a senior manager and accountant at Sandia National Laboratories, had learned the art of mosaic-making and wanted to put those skills into practice in a big way – as in a nearly 12-foot-by-4-foot big way.

Mitchell also researched designs for large flowers, drawing them on a long swath of butcher paper spread across the couple’s long dining room table and an adjoining card table beginning on May 2.

Plastic wrap was unfurled atop the butcher paper to keep the glued tile pieces from sticking to the paper. Wire mesh was placed on top of that.

And then came the pieces of this floral landscape, the cups and saucers and plates, the pitchers and statues, and anything ceramic or porcelain or pottery that friends and family donated to the cause.

“It became this community project,” Cream said. “Family and neighbors brought us things. Ladies from the gallery brought us a broken cow, a bunny statue, a beautiful blue and white plate.”


The mosaic stretched across a large dining table and adjoining card table in the dining room of Patricia Cream and Leah Mitchell from May to September. (Courtesy of Patricia Cream)


Grandsons, she said, “found” plates that were mysteriously, suddenly broken. And Mitchell and Cream used coffee cups and souvenirs from Alaska to New York.

“We can look at the mosaic and see pieces that bring back memories over the last 17 years,” Cream said.

For the next four months, the women spent each weekend cutting and fitting and gluing each piece, using weld bond glue, starting first with the flowers, then the leaves, the ground, the sky where butterflies and dragonflies flitted.

Cream took a photo of their daily progress, sharing those photos online with family and friends, especially their daughters in Denver and Houston.

“It was like a group watching this project cataloged day by day,” she said. “It’s truly a story of how we kept a sense of togetherness and how we kept our sanity.”

Instead of throwing their usual large party on Labor Day weekend, Mitchell and Cream invited a handful of friends and family to don their masks and help finish the project. They mortared the mosaic to four tile backer boards, attached the boards with french cleats to a cinderblock wall in their backyard, grouted and cleaned the mosaic in place until the beauty of the work shone in the sunlight.

“I got to help wash the grouting off and felt like I got to clean Michelangelo’s brushes,” friend Eleanor Milroy said.


It was like that in a way, a beautiful, brightly colored field of flowers painstakingly put together like a community puzzle, each piece a memory or a gift, a way to pass the time under COVID-19 precautions, a way to put back the pieces of a jumbled world.

“It was truly a work of love from our family and friends,” Cream said. “Photos don’t do it justice. You need to see it in person.” Maybe some day when the coronavirus crisis is over, when the world comes together again, those who know and love this family will.

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