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Tom Ashe

Tom Ashe practicing his art overseas

Photograph, by Tom Ashe

Photograph, by Tom Ashe, from his Reflections series

Photograph, by Tom Ashe

Portrait of a young girl, photograph, by Tom Ashe

Developing eyes to see the world


The twenty-something prodigy is an artistic cliché—the kid who lands a solo show downtown before she’s old enough to rent a car. Tom Ashe is the other kind of artist, the type we’re going to see a lot more of as baby-boomers reinvent the notion of middle-age.

A builder and land developer whose name has long been associated with a certain kind of success, Ashe has lately regained his twenty-something focus.

“I would be extremely happy to do photography full-time,” he says from his office which he built in the Ranchos de Placitas subdivision. The adobe looks out on the mesa from its many large windows, and looks in to Ashe’s true calling, from the color photographs lining the walls.

Like many late-blooming artists, he can outline the trajectory of his creative life only now, in retrospect. Photography was an early interest—he had a single-lens reflex camera when other teens were getting their Kodak Brownies—and he taught himself to develop and print film in a darkroom he built in the family attic.

In college, he had a position on the yearbook staff that gave him the run of a state-of-the-art darkroom, plus assignments that taught him to shoot with purpose. “It was the best thing,” he says of his years at Ohio Northern University. The darkroom led him to shooting rock shows, because he also played guitar. These occupations naturally continued when he moved to the University of New Mexico.

After college, practical concerns took over. He graduated from UNM with a degree in industrial arts and a plan to teach. When home construction proved to be a better avenue, Ashe embarked on a career that led him into land development, and life took its course. He raised a family, his business grew, and for more than two decades his camerawork was relegated to family snapshots and shooting promotional materials for his business.

One birthday, around his forty-eighth, his wife surprised him with an enlarger, based on an idle comment he’d made. “It got me all freaked out,” he laughs. “You don’t just get an enlarger,” he told her. “It’s all or nothing where darkrooms are concerned.”

He continues, “The next thing I know, I’m at a darkroom store.”

From that point forward, Tom Ashe’s second life begins—the one that has eclipsed his persona as a land developer. What he thinks about in that adobe office these days is light, reflections, a more abstract kind of framing, and the stories it tells. He notes that not long after he began shooting for pleasure again, “I started realizing that in order to do this and bring it to the next level, I needed to start fresh.”

So he started traveling, camera in hand, to places where he could see the world with new eyes: Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Croatia. His photographs from those trips include arresting portraits, especially of children, that gracefully bridge cultural difference in a way one rarely sees in the commercial media. “What got to me was the people,” Ashe explains. “And I guess I established the courage to put a camera a foot from someone’s face.”

Being a purist, he had long resisted the switch to digital—but now he found that digital cameras made possible a new kind of relationship with his subjects, who could see the results instantly. “You never had that with standard analog photography. Now it opens a door to richness and culture.”

A recent trip to Italy opened his perspective in an unexpected direction. “You never think you’ll find anything new,” he marvels. In the Tuscan town of Siena, Ashe started noticing the curved mirrors used to navigate out of narrow driveways. “I realized there are reflective surfaces everyplace, and started shooting them.” He found himself returning to certain mirrors and windows to see what the parallel world might reflect about the real one.

The results offer a glimpse into a meta-reality that remains as open-ended as his portraits. These photographs are easy to look at, yet continually invite the viewer’s engagement beyond the cursory glance.

It stands to reason that Ashe’s work tends toward humanitarian causes. In January, he showed forty photographs of Auschwitz at an exhibition in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day. He also hopes to mount a tandem exhibition on the Cambodian genocide—subjects that bring the photographer’s history full circle.

Ashe recalls that his earliest inspiration was National Geographic, the color magazine that, along with Life and Look, offered Americans a window on the riotous world just coming onto the horizon through the possibilities of jet travel. “I thought how great it would be to become a National Geographic photographer and travel the world,” he dreamed.

Fast-forward forty years, when crossing the globe has become ordinary, and concerns about making a living are long past. Ashe has found his place behind a camera, not by traveling places and holding a lens up to the world, but by developing the eyes to see it.

Rio Rancho Art Association announces fourth annual studio tour

The Rio Rancho Art Association has announced the dates for its fourth annual art studio tour. On April 26 and 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., forty-four Rio Rancho artists will open their studios to the public.

Taking the self-guided art tour is a wonderful opportunity for the public and artists to interact and learn from each other. Artists will offer paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics, and fiber arts for sale. The public can meet the artists, visit where they work, and learn what inspires them.

Maps and brochures can be picked up beginning on April 1 at the Chamisa Hills Golf Course. Greeting centers during the event will be located at Haynes Park and also at Rio Vista Park in River’s Edge II, where tourists can obtain maps and brochures.

The 2008 Rio Rancho Art Studio Tour has been sponsored in part by Don Chalmers, McDonald’s of Rio Rancho, Double R Realty, and numerous other supporters. Additional information about this event is available on the Rio Rancho website at:

New Mexico Wine Festival announces annual poster competition

The Town of Bernalillo and the Executive Board of the New Mexico Wine Festival announce the competition for the selection of the 2008 commemorative poster for the 21st Annual New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo. The original artwork depicting the historical and/or present New Mexico Wine industry of the Middle Rio Grande Valley must be an image suitable for reproduction as the festival poster and on other promotional items such as a t-shirt. The image should not depict children, or present any negative connotation of the wine industry, e.g., inebriation. The image should not have any text such as the name or dates of the festival. The image should be framed, with a hanging apparatus for display, but should not be matted. The artist must sign the image.

The media is open. Please consider that it is the custom of the festival to reproduce the image in the full size of the original artwork. Logistics and expenses of such are a consideration.

The selected artist will receive up to $2,000 for the original artwork and rights of reproduction, one hundred copies of the reproduction, and a booth at the New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo.

This contest is open to artists residing in New Mexico. For the purposes of this competition, representation in a New Mexico gallery does not constitute residency. Artists must be at least twenty-one years of age to enter.

All entries will be reviewed by the Executive Board for eligibility and for selection of up to five finalists. If an adequate number of eligible entries are received, selected artworks may be displayed at various Bernalillo restaurants on Camino del Pueblo for three weeks for public vote.

Submissions are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2008 at the Bernalillo MainStreet Office, Bernalillo Town Hall, 829 Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo, New Mexico. For guidelines and questions on how to submit materials, contact Maria Rinaldi, Community Services Director, Town of Bernalillo, at (505) 771-7133.

NM Bead Society showcases artists

The Arts Alliance, which is a juried showcase of the city’s finest artists, has teamed up with the New Mexico Bead Society to produce the “Wild about Beads” exhibit for the entire month of April. The opening reception will be on Friday, April 4 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Arts Alliance Gallery and will feature a silent auction from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. with donated items up for bid. Some of these items include handcrafted jewelry pieces and fiber arts with bead embellishment.

Many of the Bead Society members will be displaying their work for sale throughout the month at the Arts Alliance Gallery at 1100 San Mateo NE, Suite 10 in Albuquerque, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information about classes, instructors, dates, and times, please go to the NMBS website at

Brass Roots Trio’s plays “Con Brio!”


On Sunday, April 13, the Placitas Artists Series will present the Brass Roots Trio playing “Con Brio!” The concert will be sponsored by Drew Owens.

Blending the classical chamber music genre with contemporary American styles, the trio has created a new sound that transcends traditional musical boundaries. Brass Roots Trio’s colorful programs run the musical gamut with classical masterpieces, sizzling jazz, decadent tangos, and heart-warming Americana. With extensive conservatory training and a broad range of performing experience on the recital stage, with symphony orchestras and in jazz venues, the three musicians display incomparable virtuosity, musical finesse, and charisma that give their performances an exuberance rarely seen on the classical stage. Their relaxed stage presence and rapport with their listeners allows them to establish an immediate connection to their audiences. With around forty concerts a season, Rosetta, Doug, and Travis keep a busy schedule along with teaching, music ministry, and families.

Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for April exhibiting artists Daniela DeLuca, Sylvia Eisenhart, Robert LeBlanc, and Jeffery J. Schmitt.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on April 13 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 1:30. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas or online at Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

The facility is completely accessible, and free childcare is provided for families with children under six. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (exit 242). For more information, call 867-8080.

CMA presents pianist Stephen Beus

Chamber Music Albuquerque (CMA) presents the Classics Series with a performance by pianist Stephen Beus on Sunday, April 13 at 3:00 p.m. in the Simms Center for the Performing Arts.

Garnering stellar audience and critical acclaim from around the world, Stephen Beus is rapidly establishing himself as one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation. He has been awarded first prize in the 2006 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and first prize in the Vendome Prize International Competition in Lisbon. His orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances have been heard throughout North America, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

According to The Nevada Union, “Beus ha[s] a delicacy of touch and depth of understanding… which ranges from the lyrical and the emotional to the quicksilver.”

Knoxnews in Knoxville, Tennessee notes, “Beus’s stage presence starts with a gentle demeanor that one could mistake for shyness but easily turns into confident playing that never takes on the overtones of arrogance. His playing of the (Bach) prelude was bold and commanding without being the least bit strident. The fugue that followed was a delicately woven but self-assured contrast that gradually built in intensity.”

The program on April 13 will include works by Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, and Barber.

Ticket prices for this concert are $22 - $44 when purchased in advance or $24 - $46 when purchased at the door. Student tickets are half price. The concert will take place at the Simms Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Albuquerque Academy at 6400 Wyoming Boulevard NE in Albuquerque. Tickets may be purchased online at; at the CMA office, located in the Symphony Center at 4407 Menaul Boulevard NE in Albuquerque; or by phone at (505) 268-1990. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be a free pre-concert lecture one hour before the concert.

The 2007-2008 CMA season is funded in part by Albuquerque Academy, High Desert Investment, Chant Associates, New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Tourism Department, and French Mortuary.

Fractal Art

Fractal Art

Fractal art

New Mexico: center of the fractal art Universe


Imagine a science, math, and art show so spectacular that it has sold out fifty-eight straight times, that is shown using a six-and-a-half million dollar full dome projector system, and is so powerful that the audience breaks out spontaneously into cheers, laughter, sighing, and swooning. You don’t have to imagine it! It happens only in New Mexico, in Albuquerque, and it is called First Friday Fractals.

The rest of the world may share these visions some day, but for now we are the richest fractal art center in the known universe. FractalMan, aka Dr. Jonathan Wolfe, Ph.D., a neuroscientist by training, mathematician, and large art devotee, boggles 150 people’s minds in each of three separate shows at the Planetarium the first Friday of every month. That’s the only time and place in the universe you can catch this amazing experience. And the shows keep getting better, now selling out several days before each show date on the museum web site. It’s an all-ages show, and people of all backgrounds enter with curiosity (except for fans like myself who are going to their tenth-plus show) and leave with wonder, a new appreciation for art, science, mathematics, nature, music, and how they are all connected. It is truly a breakthrough event that we are blessed to host in New Mexico and that visitors from all over the world are beginning to come here to see.

Fractals are the scientific name for the mathematical patterns that underlie almost all of nature’s patterns, from seashores to forests, to the pattern of galaxies across the universe. Dr. Wolfe, using high-speed computers, compiles and artistically renders them into “fractalzoom” movies and live excursions into the depths of the fractal equations, sometimes one-millionth the size of an atom. The result are colorful, sacred, geometry-like patterns that resemble buildings of pheasant-like colors, forming, erupting, and melting into deeper and deeper layers of detail that make viewers “ooh” and “ahh” with surprise and recognition.

From three-year-olds to elders, everyone has a great time and leaves the Planetarium excited, invigorated, and curious to learn more. That leaves Dr. Wolfe happy, for he is an educator at heart, a lovely cross between Mr. Spock of Star Trek and Mr. Rogers of children’s TV fame. His presentation is humorous, clear, simple, and yet full of sophisticated science and cosmology. It is inspiring beyond personal beliefs. It is the rare, successful blend of art, science, and education that makes this such a unique and valuable presentation that people flock back to, with about a third of each show comprised of repeat visitors.

Using original music by new bands such as Kan’Nal (from Guatemala and Colorado), Dr. Wolfe’s brother Daniel—a fantastic composer and performer—and others, he creates a modern scientific fantasia in which our imagination and science interact with profound wonder.

Fractals are relatively simple algebraic equations of the form X= X squared + C. The equation is graphed for how x either approaches infinity or a finite value, depending on the starting value C, and colors are added to show the rate of change of the patterns. The classic fractal is the Mandelbrot set, named after the mathematician who discovered it long before he could see the profound patterns on modern computers. Nowadays, using “fractal farming,” Jonathan has six or more computers in the community helping him render deep fractals, the process taking sometimes up to a month, even with all that computer power. Using the artistic talents he developed doing Pink Floyd laser shows years ago, Jonathan melds the pieces together into a “fractal zoom,” a movie in which the participant dives into the fractal like a Disneyland E level ride—fasten your seatbelt—and explores different fractal landscapes like an astronaut.

Using different equations produces strangely different fractal experiences, and we are given a tour of some of the most fascinating and beautiful ones that Dr. Wolfe keeps discovering in his fractal research. Dr. Wolfe is the director of the Fractal Foundation, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit. At their website,, you can learn more about the mathematics of fractals, see galleries of incredible images, download a fractal zoom, and even download free software to explore fractals on your own computer. Oh, and you can buy tickets to the show there, too, through the Museum ticket link.

The Fractal Foundation is involved in some cutting edge projects here in New Mexico, including fractal education at schools in an inflatable planetarium, a contest for kids to make the most beautiful fractal, with winners getting their fractal art printed super-large on vinyl to be placed on the sides of large buildings downtown, and much more. Other artists are joining Jonathan to produce music for the fractal zooms that increases our multidimensional enjoyment of them. Tierro, the lead guitarist for Kan’Nal is creating a high def fractalzoom DVD with original music. The samples I have seen and heard are incredibly beautiful and exciting. Aaron Stone is writing surround-sound music for fractal zooming that will be astounding, as he composed the music for the Ice Capades traveling shows for years. And Ronnie Ray Padilla, one of the best guitarists in the world, is composing fractal music also. A wave of new multimedia fractal art is coming our way.

Fractals are used by scientists to model natural phenomenon such as coastlines, hurricanes, and more. Some feel all of nature is fractal-based. It is possible that one of the reasons people like being “out in the wilds of nature” is that they get a fractal experience there, not just because it’s “nature.” New kinds of healing using fractal art are being explored by shamanic healers Dr. Blue and his partner Chancediva.

But don’t just read about this phenomenon. Get yourself and your family to the Planetarium at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and see it for yourself. You will be happy and perhaps also develop a healthy curiosity about this modern art plus science modern marvel.

Someday, if Jonathan gets his artistic way, downtown Albuquerque may have a fractal landscape on many big buildings and fractal balloons flying through the skies. Albuquerque will then truly be the fractal capital of the universe. It’s already happening. Join the fractalution!

Dr. Blue has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and does experimental research using hypnosis and fractals. He is very curious about fractal consciousness.



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