Tom Ashe practicing his art overseas
Photograph, by Tom Ashe, from his Reflections series
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
A builder and land developer whose name has long been associated
with a certain kind of success, Ashe has lately regained his twenty-something
“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
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
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,”
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
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: http://ci.rio-rancho.nm.us.
New Mexico Wine Festival announces annual poster
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 www.newmexicobeadsociety.org.
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
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 www.PlacitasArts.org. 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,
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,
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 www.cma-abq.org; 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.
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
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
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
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, www.FractalFoundation.org,
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
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
Dr. Blue has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and
does experimental research using hypnosis and fractals. He is very
curious about fractal consciousness.