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Joe Cabaza

Joe Cabaza, fine art photographer Photo credit: Oli Robbins

c. Joe Cabaza

Kitchen Table, Las Golondrinas, NM, photograph, by Joe Cabaza

c. Joe Cabaza

Penitente Morada, Peña Blanca, NM, photograph, by Joe Cabaza

One shot:
The poetic photography of Joe Cabaza

—Oli Robbins
Photography is often regarded as an art of multiples—due to both the reproducible images it creates as well as the fact that most photographers take several shots of the same subject in an attempt to ensure they get the “right” image. But Placitas photographer Joe Cabaza gives himself, quite literally, only one shot. Not only does he eschew the now-ubiquitous digital camera for 19th-century, large-format cameras, he only allows himself one chance to capture a place, form, or figure. Because he still works with film, he doesn’t have the luxury of choosing the best of dozens of shots. His process resembles that of a painter who critically conceives of, and pieces together, a scene.

Says Cabaza, “It’s gotten to the point where I go out and see something I want to photograph, and I study it, compose it, visualize it, and I just take one shot.” He assured me that, of course, sometimes the result looks different than he had imagined: “I’ll blow shots, like anybody, but I figure if I can’t do it in one shot, it wasn’t good enough that day.”

In his black and white, often lyrical photographs, Cabaza turns the banal into the monumental, transforming a pair of worn work boots or an old typewriter into objects of timeless beauty. He tends toward places and objects that are rich in stories, but is not attached to conveying something specific to the viewer. “The viewer can go where he wants to go,” says Cabaza. “I’m not into writing what is what.”

Cabaza does write, though, and can no longer be called just a photographer. His recent series, “Words and Photographs,” presents eight-by-ten inch photographs alongside poems that articulate the story behind, or a feeling conveyed by, the photograph. Oftentimes his photographs inspire poems, but it also works the other way—Cabaza will take an already-written poem and create a photograph that gives it pictorial form. Cabaza started writing in 1991 when living in Boston. He, along with two editor-friends, set out to write a book that would integrate photography and poetry. That book was never completed, but shortly after, he wrote and published another poetry book, which sold successfully. When asked what type of poetry he gravitates towards, the artist smiled and responded, “I love haiku. God, I love haiku.”

While his father worked on the infamous Manhattan Project of the 1940s, Cabaza spent his early childhood years in Santa Fe—a time he remembers fondly for the stories his elders would tell him. Says Cabaza, “You know the movie Bless Me, Ultima? I can relate to that. That’s how I grew up.” Cabaza feels that the movie accurately represents aspects of Hispanic lifestyle in the 1940s. “I always heard about how simple things used to be, how people lived back then.”

To this day, he has an affinity for the simple; he loves Placitas for the peace and quiet it offers, and his photographs are candid and tranquil, never convoluted or seemingly difficult to comprehend.

Cabaza admits that he didn’t grow up making art or knowing he wanted to  be an artist, but instead spent much of his time in athletics. One day, in 1974, he “just wanted to get a camera.” His acquisition inspired him to read up on photography, so he studied one Ansel Adams book after another. Cabaza is a totally self-taught photographer, having learned technique, printing, and developing from such books.

After burying himself in Adams’ imagery and instructions, and subsequently experimenting with large-format photography, Cabaza became introduced to the photography of Edward Weston, to which he felt intensely compelled. Says Cabaza, “His work just blows me away. A friend of mine has a Weston print and, god, I have dreams about that print—the contrast and tonality. That’s what large-format is all about.” Large-format cameras enable Cabaza to achieve Weston-like tonality, and they also provide a wider range of composition possibilities. He explains, “I like the adjustments. I can set it up and raise the lens, or I can swing it around for perspective control. That’s what I like about them—they correct distortion.”

Cabaza processes his negatives in his own make-shift darkroom. He then scans the negatives and tweaks them with Photoshop. Since he visually analyzes and fashions his arrangements with such care, once he shoots, there are few modifications left to be done. He gives primacy to the moment of creation, not to the potential edits that follow. “I don’t do a lot of manipulation to the negative,” says Cabaza. “If the negative isn’t there, it won’t matter what you do.”

While I always enjoy viewing the impressive work produced by fine artists, I certainly don’t expect to be offered a piece, much less become part of one. As Cabaza and I were wrapping up our interview, he asked if he might photograph me. Not only did our interview give rise to a photograph, the photograph in turn prompted a “Words and Photographs” poem. Here I thought I was the one conducting an interview when, unbeknownst to me, Cabaza was the one hard at work composing. Perhaps a true artist is always creating.

Cabaza’s work can be seen at Arte de Placitas, or by appointment with the artist. For further information, visit his website at:

Hot Honey

Anasazi Fields Winery rolls out the barrel, celebrates Spring

Plans are coming together for an exciting weekend celebration of Earth Day and springtime in Placitas on April 20 and 21 with “Fruits Of The Earth 2013.” Jim Fish says, “We still are working out the details of the schedule, but we have lined up an impressive offering of music, art, poetry, wine and food. We will be updating our website regularly as more information is available.”

The event will run from noon to 6:00 p.m. both April 20 and 21, with a special concert on Saturday evening from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. by Lori Ottino and her band “Hot Honey,” brought to the winery by New Mexico Music Promotions. Music during the afternoons will be provided by Sage, Stagefright Slim, Tim O’Rourke, ClayStone, and others. In between the musical performances, two local poets—Larry Goodell and Jim Fish—will share some of their new poems with you.

Tickets for the event are $8 in advance and $10 at the door for the Hot Honey concert only, or $12 in advance and $15 at the door for the entire weekend. Tickets for the afternoons only will be $5 at the door and the proceeds will be split among the afternoon musicians.

During the month of April, art from the principals of the winery will be hanging in the winery galley. Also showing for the weekend will be Kristin Wilson and her grandson, Jonathan. A dueling-lathe demonstration of wood turning will be provided by Gail Tate and Gerard Rollins.

Lunch and snacks on both afternoons and dinner on Saturday evening will be available from Little Smokies. For food offerings and further information, check out the winery website at:
The winery is re-releasing a special old wine for the celebration. Fish says, “We have a few barrels of our 1996 Sunset, a stone-fruit medley, hiding in the cellar. We will tap into one of them as a treat for the weekend.”

c. Evangeline D. Chavez

Long Flight Home, photograph, by Evangeline D. Chavez

Expo features women photographers

As part of Women And Creativity Month, “InSight”—a women’s juried, photography exhibit that showcases female photographers from across New Mexico—will be showing in the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico. The show will include the photography of Sandoval County photographer Evangeline D. Chavez, who recently won the People’s Choice award for her photograph “Long Flight Home.” From April 7 to 27, 2013, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., every day except Tuesdays, the public is invited to view the artwork. There is no admission fee and the artwork will be for sale. A weekly drawing for a free print is included. Expo New Mexico is at 300 San Pedro NE in Albuquerque.

Painting, by Ana Claudia Doria Da Silva

April art at Library

Ana Claudia Doria Da Silva works in acrylics and collage, and her April exhibit at the Placitas Community Library will be a presentation of her eclectic style.  

She studied sculpture in her native Rio de Janeiro, and since moving to Placitas in 2000, has studied with artists Darlene Olivia Macelroy, and Elaine Slusher. In addition to her passion for art, she has many other interests and skills—as a jewelry maker and seamstress. Since she was twelve in Rio de Janeiro, she has worked as a beautician and is known for her great haircuts at the Placitas Community Center. She says about her painting Crow Love, an acrylic collage, “I have a very old love affair with birds, and the crow is not an exception. I love when they get loud, and when they are in the sun, I can see the iridescent blue.”

She looks forward to meeting old friends and new at her artist’s reception at the library on April 12, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Call to artists—New Mexico wine festival poster prospectus

This year’s New Mexico Wine Festival will be held August 31 and September 1 and 2 in the historic Town of Bernalillo. The Town of Bernalillo will select a piece of original artwork depicting the historical and/or present New Mexico wine industry of the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Artists must be residents of New Mexico (representation in a New Mexico gallery does not constitute residency), and at least 21 years of age. Artists may submit a conceptual sketch or finished work for consideration. The media is open, and logistics and expenses for reproduction of the festival poster and other promotional items such as a t-shirt should be considered. The artwork should not depict children, present any negative connotation of the wine industry, or have any text such as the name or dates of the festival.

Deadline for artist submissions is May 3. May 6 to 10 will be the evaluation of conceptual sketches and the winner will be notified on May 24. The final art piece will be due June 14. The selected artist will receive up to $2,000 for the original artwork and rights of reproduction and also will receive one hundred copies of the reproduction and a booth at the festival. The selected artist must be present at the festival and at any requested press events prior to the festival. Artists may get an application form by visiting the website at or calling the Town at 771-7133.

Phantom Lake Surf Band plays in Rio Rancho

—Rob Nankin
The Phantom Lake Surf Band will perform live and in concert at the Esther Bone Memorial Library on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. This will be a unique live performance, featuring instrumental surf music with surfing film clips being shown on the giant eight-by-eight foot screen in the background. The Phantom Lake Surf Band features original surf music for you to get your groove on. Before you know it, you’ll be dusting off that board and heading out to the coast in your woody wagon.

This will be a free, all-ages concert. Tickets are not required. The library is located at 950 Pinetree Rd. SE in Rio Rancho. For more information, call 891-5012, option 3.

Outdoor Vision Fest

Outdoor Vision Fest (OVF) is a free, annual public event featuring environmental projections and outdoor art installations of design, animation, full motion video, video mapping, motion graphics, and interactive multimedia created by students and faculty at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. A self-guided experience, OVF presents a unique opportunity for visitors to see large-scale art installations of design, animation, photography and other motion imagery projected on the wall of Ricardo Legorreta’s world-famous Visual Arts Center, the Fogelson Library and Garson Theater. The Fest will be on April 26 from 8:45 to 10:45 at Santa Fe University of Art and Design Campus—1600 St. Michael’s Drive in Santa Fe. For more information, contact Terry Borst, professor of screenwriting, at 474-9648 or email to

PAS presents great show in April

The Placitas Artists Series will present a concert of guitar and cello by the Richter Uzur Duo at 3:00 p.m. in Placitas. Music will include pieces by Gershwin, Piatti, Rimsky-Korsakov, plus Macedonian and Serbian folk music as well as some original music by Richter and Uzur. A reception for the visual artists accompanying the show will be held at 2:00 p.m.

Visual artists are Bunny Bowen, wax resist paintings; Evangeline Dunmire, watercolors; Joan Fenicle, photography; and Ann Pollard, Acrylic Paintings. A reception will be held on April 21, at 2:00 p.m., at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, located on NM 165, six miles east of I-25 (exit 242). The artwork will be on display from March 30 through April 28.

Visual artist Dorothy “Bunny” Bowen (MA, Art history, UNM) has done batik work since 1980. Bunny says, “Working on silk with dyes resisted by molten wax, I continue a 2,500-year-old tradition, which has been practiced in various forms all around the world. Since 1998 I have studied with master artists skilled in the Japanese form of wax resist: Rozome.”

Evangeline Dunmire has been a resident of Placitas for twenty-two years, where she has pursued her love of painting as well as doing volunteer work in non-profit arts organizations. Her work has been exhibited in galleries in Albuquerque and numerous shows locally.

Joan Fenicle has been traveling the caminos and callejones of New Mexico and southern Colorado for over forty years, capturing vistas and villages in paintings and photos. Joan says, “My favorite quote, reflecting my search for subjects for my art work, comes from J.R. Tolkien: ‘Not all who wander are lost’.”

Ann Pollard paints with heart, intuition, and instinct, not bothering with conventionality; often abandoning literal representation, she works in abstract and impressionist styles in acrylic and mixed media. Ann says, “I find it exciting to let intuition serve the expression of each experience. I trust the relationship of colors and textures, resulting in an uplifting, joyful living harmony.”

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store at 120 E. Highway 550 in Bernalillo; Ah!Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or on-line at Prices are $20 in advance. At-the-door prices are General Admission: $20 and Students: $15.

“SEEDS: A Collective Voice” shows in May

“SEEDS: A Collective Voice,” a multi-media arts exhibit to raise awareness about the importance of organic and ancient seed preservation as well as inform and educate people about GMO issues, will open on May 4, with a reception from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Downtown Contemporary Gallery in Albuquerque. SEEDS is the brainchild of New Mexico-based Mexican-born Magical Realism painter Jade Leyva and is produced in association with Avokado Artists, a nonprofit arts organization based in Placitas. Leyva began harvesting local seeds over a year ago and became interested in seed preservation and, by extension, GMO issues. The Downtown Contemporary Gallery is at 105 4th Street SW, in Albuquerque. The show will run through June 7. For more information on SEEDS: A Collective Voice, contact Tom Frouge at Avokado Artists: 505.771.3166 /

Route 66 poetry

A group of local poets has just published a book of poetry titled, Fresh Ink New Mexico, 66 Poems from the Route. These eight poets gather twice a month to write, read, and critique their poetry. The poets are John Candelaria, Katherine Hauth, Constance Hester, Deanna McMain, Marty O’Malley, John Richardson, Joann Sheets, and Betty Temple. Responsibility for presenting writing exercises to create new poems rotates monthly with the poets. The exercises push the poets to work outside of their comfort zones. They progress in a forward direction when they learn from one another. Many of their poems reflect feelings about New Mexico. The group frequently reads at Barnes and Noble. This poetry group, also named Fresh Ink New Mexico, will be reading at the Placitas Community Library on April 6, at 2:00 p.m. Books will be available.

Bookstore to host local author booksignings

Under Charlie’s Covers fine used bookstore will host two book signings by local authors in April. On April 20, Placitas author John Orne Green will be selling and signing his book of short stories, Joe’s New Religion: Fictions & Fabulations, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The stories in this book have been called “wild, unpredictable, frequently hysterically funny and deeply original.” On April 27, meet Albuquerque author B. C. Stone, as he introduces his latest book, Murder at the Belmar: A Kay Francis Mystery, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This mystery features film star Kay Francis, who, while on vacation in Mazatlan, discovers a dead body in her hotel suite. As she puts together the clues, she encounters Errol Flynn, Somerset Maugham, and Frida Kahlo, among the suspects. Under Charlie’s Covers is located in Bernalillo,

RioR seeks art apps

The city of Rio Rancho is seeking applicants interested in filling the at-large position on the city’s
Art Commission. Applicants much have knowledge and experience in an art-related discipline and reside in the city of Rio Rancho. The Arts Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Rio Rancho Governing Body and works to enhance and promote the arts within the city. The commission meets at 6:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Rio Rancho City Hall—3200 Civic Center Circle. Individuals interested in applying and serving as a volunteer on this commission must submit an application form and resume to the Office of the City Clerk. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Applications can be obtained by visiting the clerk’s office inside Rio Rancho City Hall or by visiting For information, contact the clerk’s office at 891-5004.

Learn to paint

On April 27, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Rio Rancho Art Association artists will be teaching the tips and tricks of painting in various mediums. Learn watercolor, acrylic, oil, and much more. To participate, sign up at the adult information desk or call 891-5012, option 3. The library is at 950 Pinetree Road SE, Rio Rancho. Admission is free.

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