An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

A Picasso in Bernalillo?

Strolling through the shops of Main Street in Bernalillo, a tourist from New York City might be surprised to find an original Picasso in the Sherwood Gallery. “Why not Bernalillo?” asks Holly Sherwood, the owner of the gallery.

Visitors may also be surprised to find that Holly is herself a New York City native, a former child actor, a backup singer for some of the biggest stars, and a solo vocalist on several well-known recordings and soundtracks. Holly, the original Ivory Soap Baby, moved on at an early age to leading roles on Broadway, working with Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Weber. She recorded backing vocals for Bonnie Tyler, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins, and Barry Manilow, and performed with Joe Cocker and Arlo Guthrie.

The Picasso is a 1942 limited-edition linocut print in black-and-white. It is displayed in a gold frame and hung in a nicho near the entrance of the gallery, which opened in December 2001. It seems right at home on walls ornately textured and faux-finished in reds and gold. Display cases are filled with an eclectic and beautiful collection of designer jewelry. There’s a beauty section with holistic soaps wrapped in art from Taos, and soon to come are truffles and Godiva chocolate—extravagant objects for what Holly calls “fun money.”

Holly explains, “I like to offer unique objects that are luxuries to enhance people’s lives. Just like a favorite shirt or pair of shoes, stones and jewelry can be an extension of well-being and individuality. Sometimes I let people take a piece home for a dayÑjust to see if it really suits them.” Holly says the gallery includes jewelry ranging in price from $10 to $10,000 because she thinks it is important to be accessible to all parts of the community.

The collection at Sherwood Gallery includes the work of local silver craftsman Dennis Michael Garcia, who also is available for custom orders, upgrades, and repairs. The gallery also features high-end fine jewelry, diamonds, other precious stones, and a line of necklaces and bracelets from Los Angeles.

Holly formerly worked as national sales director for the Felley Corporation jewelry manufacturer and established contacts within jewelry and arts communities all over the county. Every couple of months, she plans to rotate shows of nationally known artists. Holly insists that all this finery is not lost on the small town of Bernalillo. “I see Bernalillo as a comfortable mecca for lots of artistic and creative individuals,” she says. “It’s a friendly, fun place. I keep the gallery open after hours sometimes and invite people in for potlucks and parties.”

Sherwood Gallery is just a few doors north of The Range Cafe. The nondescript sign will soon be replaced with something more suitable. For more information, you may call the gallery at 867-6600.

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April concert in Placitas

—Gary Libman

Música Antigua de Albuquerque, Sunday, April 14 at 3:00 p.m.

At their April concert the Placitas Artists Series is proud to present the renowned musical group Música Antigua de Albuquerque. This ensemble has given concerts and lecture demonstrations all over New Mexico and at other venues. They have brought the wonders of medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music to concert audiences everywhere they’ve gone. Their program features voices and the sounds of period instruments such as the recorder, vielle, shawm, viola da gamba, rebec, medieval harp, and crumhorn. For those of you who may not know, the vielle is a precursor of the violin, the shawm is a predecessor of the oboe, the rebec is a medieval bowed string instrument, and the crumhorn is a capped reed instrument that produces a buzzing nasal tone. You really don’t want to miss the opportunity to see and hear these exotic and beautiful sounding instruments.

Música Antigua has been the recipient of grants from numerous sources, including the National Endowment for the Arts, New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Quincentenary Commission, and the Santa Fe Arts Commission. The performers are Dennis Davies-Wilson, Sheldon Kalberg, Art Sheinberg, Colleen Sheinberg, and Mary Ann Shore. You will be captivated by their musical ability as well as their choice of repertoire and selection of instruments for each work. Please visit their Web site at http://www.la.unm.edu/~davies/MAA/MAA-home.html.

The concert will be held in the beautiful and acoustically superb Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). There will be an artists’ reception at the church at 1:30 p.m. before the concert. This month’s featured artists are Andi Callahan, Nancy Hawks, Madeline Randle, and Adriana Scassellati. You can view examples of their work on the Placitas Artists Series Web page at www.PlacitasArts.org.

Andi Callahan began as a raku potter. Currently glass is her primary focus. She produces pottery and wall plaques, incorporating dichroic glass as well as applied leaf. Nancy Hawks has been awestruck at the beauty that surrounds us in New Mexico. She enjoys taking photographs and painting realistically from them. Madeline Randle, a member of the board of the Placitas Artists Series, is a native of northern New Mexico who has always loved the aromas, vistas, and colors of its mesas and mountains. She is fascinated by the play of light on landscapes, animals, flowers, and people, and considers herself primarily an impressionist. Adriana Scassellati’s work shows her strong love of the Southwest. She is currently concentrating her efforts on landscape pastels.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concerts. Tickets can also be purchased on line. The prices for these concerts are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. For additional information and ticket brochures, call 867-8080 or visit the Web site.

Concerts are partially funded by a grant from New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs. There is access for the handicapped and free child care for children under six.

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Aztlan revisited

—Carl Hertel

“The Road to Aztlan: Art from the Mythic Homeland” is an intriguing exhibit that will be at the Albuquerque Museum through April 28. It is an epic collection of art and artifacts detailing the mythology of the sacred place of origin of the Aztecs of Central Mexico.

Geographically, Aztlan has been located in both northern Mexico and the American Southwest, but over the centuries it has become a metaphor for a kind of Pan-American Indo-Latino homeland. The exhibit covers more than two thousand years of indigenous history, with artifacts from all the major peoples of the ancient American Southwest and parts of Mexico, as well as contemporary Chicano art and culture, which revisited the concept of Aztlan in the 1960s. This joining of the present and the past makes an eye-opening experience that anyone living in the Southwest should see in order to understand the multicultural character of our region.

I began my journey to Aztlan near the art museum at Ben Michael’s Restaurant at Rio Grande Boulevard and Pueblo Bonito Court. Ben Michael Barreras built his arresting restaurant with his own hands, attaching it to an older 1940s adobe on site. With six thousand adobes he created a space that coincidentally reflects the essence of Aztlan by mixing forms of prehistoric and contemporary native cultures with Spanish culture and a provocative postmodernism. The latter involves the use of corrugated steel in the facade worthy of L.A.’s Frank Gerhy.

Barreras comes from a family with a long tradition in New Mexico which includes a grandfather who fought in World War I and a father who fought in World War II. Graphic photos of various ancestors are found in the building, which has a distinctive wedge shape and rises to about twenty-five feet in stages suggestive of Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon as well as the stages of American Indian Pueblos. The interior incorporates typical Hispanic uses of latillas and the organic use of adobe associated with Hispanic architecture in the American Southwest. Barreras’s restaurant speaks of the realities of our region’s history and of intercourse between various richly endowed cultures over two millennia—cultures that are revisited by the exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum a block away.

The allegory of Aztlan reflects a time when today’s national boundaries did not separate the cultures of the Southwest and northern Mexico. The myth of the origin of Aztec civilization in the American Southwest is substantiated by documentation exhibited at the museum. In addition, the exhibition presents hundreds of examples of architecture, sculpture, pottery, and painting that demonstrate that the peoples of Mexico and southwestern America were in contact over thousands of years. The feeling that the cultures involved somehow shared a common origin pervades the works on exhibit while at the same time distinctive attributes of cultures like the Aztec, Chaco, Hohokam, Mimbres, Casas Grandes, Pueblo, Hispanic, and Mexican also illustrate real differences. In the 1960s, the American Chicano movement sought to revisit the Aztlan allegory as a means of identifying Latino culture in America with the ancient culture of the Aztecs. Out of this mythic homeland of the Aztecs in the American Southwest came a blossoming of Chicano art and expression that still animates and enriches American art.

A large photographic triptych by James Luna titled Half Indian, Half Mexican says it all. In the left-hand panel, Luna is shown in profile with long hair, beardless, and wearing an earring. In the right-hand panel, Luna is shown in opposite profile with short hair and a moustache. In the central panel we find Luna full face with half his moustache shaved off and long hair on his right side. On his left side, he has short hair and half a moustache. In full face, he manifests both his Mexican and Indian attributes in a sardonic Picasso-esque portrait that depicts the mestizo nature of much of human life in the Southwest and Mexico.

Yolanda Lopez expresses the unity of cultures across boundaries and time in her painting Nuestra Madre. She combines the attributes of the Mexica earth-goddess from Coxcatlan with those of the Virgin of Guadalupe, thus bringing together constructs of deity across at least three cultures—Aztec, Spanish, and Mexican—not to mention implications of Chicana feminism.

The exhibition as a whole allows us to feel the pull of Aztlan as a mythic homeland that came to involve not only the Aztecs or Mexica, but native peoples of the Southwest, the colonial Spanish, Mexicans, mestizos, New Mexican Hispanics, Chicanos, and Anglo-Americans. Meanwhile, back at Ben Michael’s restaurant we can feel the richness of this multiculturalism in the everyday realities of Old Town. Aztlan is all around us.

 

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