Photo by Bill Diven
Fim Fish, at home with wood
Heart of Apricot, detail of tall wood carving in
Free-form elm-wood bowl on cottonwood stump
featured artist of the month
Jim Fish: “If you have a bent to
be creative, you will create.”
When the muse strikes him, Jim Fish may take out pencil and paper
... or his chainsaw.
For raw material, he need only look around.
Water sloshing down a ditch into his orchard
inspires verse about the private joys of irrigation. A limb from
an apricot tree, roughed up by the power saw, emerges from carving
and sanding as a willowy sculpture revealing its heart and a bird
once hidden behind the bark.
“Wood carving takes a piece of wood and
just tries to present what's there,” Fish said. “It's
the same with poetry.
“The challenge is to take something and
put it in a package where people can look at it and say, 'Ah ha!'”
Or in a package where people can taste it.
Separating the poetry and woodcarving from winemaking would be difficult
for the twenty-five-year Placitas resident who founded Anasazi Fields
Winery in 1995.
Wine and art mingle frequently, as Anasazi
was built to host events like the annual Placitas Studio Tour and
Placitas Holiday Show, with other happenings in between. This month
that's the Gathering of Spirits—music, art, and food benefiting
the Wildlife West Nature Park August 12-13.
Wine and poetry merge regularly with the Duende
Poetry Series, the next to be held on September 17.
Poetry and woodworking date to Fish's ranch-kid
youth, spurred on by a Texas engineering college that required its
students to engage in the liberal arts, in his case creative writing.
He published his first book of poetry, Firemiles, in 1975, while
in graduate school in California and his second, Jim and I, a play
on his Gemini astrological sign, in 1980.
Another book is in the works.
“It's a way to talk to myself more than
anything else,” Fish said.
He made beer as a hobby while working at Sandia
National Laboratories as a chemical engineer, but a bumper crop
of peaches lured him into winemaking. His specialty became fruit
wines made mostly from local produce and designed to be dry instead
For many years he also found time to become
a prominent spokesman for environmental causes focused on land conservation.
And it is with some surprise that he finds himself at the intersection
of wine and art.
“Poetry, art, it's all part of one big
package, and each part contributes,” Fish said. “It
was less by design than by the natural flow of energy leading to
this confluence of activities.
“If you have a bent to be creative, you
will create. It's just a force.”
While the winery serves as a gallery as needed, the main building
of heavy posts and vigas remains too open to the elements. Construction
over the next year or two will change that, creating a permanent
gallery and community focal point, he said.
Fish's work and other pieces by local artists are on display during
business hours, noon to 5:00 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Examples
of his work also can be found by visiting the Signpost Web site,
and clicking on the Featured Artist link.
Information on the winery is available at
www.anasazifieldswinery.com or by calling 867-3062. The winery
is near the end of the original Placitas irrigation ditch, at 26
Camino de los Pueblitos.
A LA DITCH
Churning red shale
Thru the village
Down the ditch
Orchard finally gets
Soaking shot of warm and rich
A la ditch
Only a few of us
Some old timers
Some of us in between
Only a few of us
A la ditch
Churning red shale
Thru the village
Down the ditch
Others pay off kid or neighbor
Screw the work
Or flip it all
And use the hose
Just let it go:
Dirty red muck
A la ditch
The orchards sighing
A slow soaking shot
A la ditch
—JIM FISH, Placitas
Blues festival at Anasazi Fields Winery to benefit
Wildlife West Nature Park
An impressive lineup of local musicians will take the stage at
Anasazi Fields Winery for its annual Gathering of Spirits, to be
held August 12 and 13, noon to 6:00 p.m. each day.
“We will have some fantastic music,” says Jim Fish,
“along with arts and crafts booths, and a live bird show each
day at noon. The $5 admission price directly benefits Wildlife West
Wildlife West Nature Park, an educational facility in Edgewood
featuring native plants and animals of New Mexico, is home to a
pair of Mexican Gray wolves, elk, deer, pronghorn, javelinas, raptors,
cougars, raccoons, a coyote, a fox, and a bobcat. The winery is
donating 10 percent of wine sales for the weekend to the park.The
live bird show will be from noon to 1:00 p.m. both days. Experience
a red-tailed hawk, a barn owl, or a turkey vulture up close and
personal. Visitors can chat with Wildlife West staff and sign up
to be members of the New Mexico Wildlife Association or volunteers
at the park.
On Saturday, after the Wildlife West bird show, winery partner
Stagefright Slim will lead off the music, followed by Eric McEuen
and John Webb. On Sunday, the lineup will feature Chris Dracup and
Tommy Elskes, who come to us fresh from a duo act at the 2006 New
Mexico Jazz Festival and were recently featured on the cover of
Local artists Gail Tate, Jean Mahar, Karen Prinke, Vicki Bolen,
and Jim Fish will have booths at the festival. A raffle will be
held for a signed and numbered print of Nancy Wood Taber's Gathering
of Spirits. The original, a color-pencil drawing of a red-tailed
hawk, a cougar, and a great horned owl, hangs in the winery's permanent
No food will be available at the winery, but picnic baskets are
encouraged. The Deli at The Merc, about three miles from I 25, on
the way to the winery, is an excellent place to pick up sandwiches.
Call 867-8661 ahead of time, and they will have your sandwiches
ready when you get there. Next to the Merc is the Piñon Café
who offers take-out (771-1700). The Placitas Mini Mart, just up
the road from the winery, also has picnic supplies (867-0437).
Carpooling to the event is recommended. Lawn chairs and blankets
are suggested to complement the available seating. Water will be
provided at no charge. Nonalcoholic drinks will be available at
a nominal cost or may be brought in.
Who are all those painters?
For six days, beginning August 19, Placitas and Bernalillo residents
will be seeing artists painting en plein air (painting out-of-doors
on location) throughout the area. Plein Air New Mexico, the sponsoring
organization of this Paint Placitas event, anticipates that forty
to fifty PANM artists from around the state, as well as other parts
of the United States, will converge on the area for this period
of intensive painting.
The official “Paintout” period will start at 8:00
a.m. on Saturday, August 19, when artists meet in the parking lot
of Loop Road Trail on Highway 165. From there they will seek out
scenic spots along the Loop Road to begin painting. The public is
encouraged to stop and see the works in progress.
Following the Paintout period, the artists’ work will be
on display and for sale at the Plein Air New Mexico Gallery, 733
S. Camino del Pueblo, in the Old Town Shoppes, Bernalillo, from
August 26 to September 4. There will be a free opening reception
at the gallery on August 25 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
While plein-air painting has long been popular with serious landscape
artists, it is enjoying a new-found appreciation among fine-art
Come see what it's all about, meet the artists, and add to your
growing art collection. During this exceptional show, the Plein
Air New Mexico Gallery will be open seven days a week from 10:00
a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and of course, admission is free.
For more information about Plein Air New Mexico and the Paintout,
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Plein Air New Mexico Gallery's phone number is 505-867-9150.
Get your licks on Route 66 Festival
On August 12, at Art Gallery 66 in Bernalillo, meet and purchase
from the artists who have donated to the silent auction benefiting
Watermelon Mountain Ranch, a no-kill animal-rescue shelter in Rio
Bring the family (including pets!) for a day of art, food, beverages,
and the premiere of Señor Murphy's newest candy, created
exclusively to support the animals.
How often have you attended a charitable event, looked at the art
to be auctioned. and wondered, “Who is the artist? I love
As an artist who is asked to donate (often), I rarely have the
opportunity to meet or speak with potential buyers about my work
before, during, or after the auction. This simply has to change.
As a consumer, it is helpful to know all about the product, like
a car or plasma TV, before the investment, so why not apply the
same consideration when investing in art?
The artists are usually invited to the events, lured by free food
in exchange for their donation, and yet the charity rarely encourages
their patrons to get to know the artist. Watermelon Mountain Ranch
has been a pleasure to work with because they do value the contribution
the artists give to them and have been supportive of the idea that
their patrons meet the artists that contribute.
The day of the event several of those artists, (most of whom are
local; others are coming down from Santa Fe) are going to be present
to show and sell their work. This is everyone's chance, artists
included, to discuss and get to know more about their art.
AG66 has a knowledgeable staff to help you learn about the artists’
work and will help you better understand their value. Come out and
learn about the artist whose work you would like to own, while supporting
a great cause for animals at the same time.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the auctioned items benefits
WMR, as does a portion of the artists’ retail sales.
Contributions may be made to Watermelon Mountain Ranch on-line
Art Gallery 66 is north of 550 on Highway 313, toward Algodones.
There is plenty of free parking and no charge for admission.
Award-winning play coming to the Adobe Theater in
Imagine everything you did between the years of 1976 and 1992.
Now remove all of it. Those sixteen years were taken away from Sunny
Jacobs, convicted and sentenced to death for a crime she did not
commit. Her story is not unique; it could just as easily happen
The Exonerated, by Jessica Blank and Eric Jensen, won
the 2003 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. It was developed
through a series of interviews with more than sixty people who had
been convicted, sentenced to death row, and later exonerated and
released. The play tells the true stories of six of these innocent
survivors in their own words.
Director Tish Miller said, "I knew when I first read The
Exonerated that I would direct it. The stories are honest and
Actors Darryl Deloach, Gene Grant, Thane Kenny, André Leavell,
Leslee Richards, and Harry Zimmerman bring the exonerated to life.
They are assisted by ensemble players Jocelyn DeHaas, Vern Poitras,
Drew Pollack, Gwendolyn Sedillo, and Robyn Wells, each portraying
several different characters.
Audience members are invited to participate in a short informal
discussion with the cast and crew after each performance.
opens on August 4 and plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.,
and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through August 27 at the Adobe Theater,
9813 Fourth Street NW. General admission is $12; students and seniors,
$10. For information and reservations, call 898-9222.
Rag rug folk art made to benefit economic opportunities
for women and girls.
Rag Rug Festival will benefit NM women
The New Mexico Women’s Foundation will launch its fourth
annual Rag Rug Festival, at the Stewart Udall Center for Museum
Resources, 725 Camino Lejo, at the foot of Museum Hill, in Santa
Fe, the weekend of August 11-13. The nonprofit charitable organization
was founded in 1988 with a mission to support organizations and
programs that create economic opportunities for New Mexico’s
women and girls.
The event highlights handmade work from a hundred artisans from
throughout New Mexico, with demonstrations of weaving, spinning,
and various forms of needlework, such as colcha embroidery, knitting,
“Weaving is the common denominator of this event, which
provides the weft and warp of New Mexico women coming together.
Just as the weft and warp create a stronger fabric, giving women
a chance to come together in a shared venue to sell their work offers
an unparalleled economic opportunity, especially in a rural state
such as New Mexico,” said Frieda Arth of the New Mexico Women’s
The grand-opening ceremonies begin August 11 at 3:45 p.m., when
Jill Heppenheimer and Barbara Lanning, co-owners of Santa Fe Weaving
Gallery, will “tear” the ceremonial rag ribbon. From
4:00 to 7:00 p.m. a preview reception and sale will be held, catered
by Walter Burke Catering. A $50 per-person contribution is suggested.
The festival is open August 12 and 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission and parking are free. For information about the New Mexico
Women’s Foundation, call 505-983-6155. For reservations or
information, contact Frieda Arth, at 995-8926 or AliceLive@comcast.net.
Gary Libman, “semi-conductor” of the
Placitas Artists Series kazoo band, aboard the PAS float in the
2006 Placitas Fourth of July parade.
Placitas Artists Series celebrates its
—GARY LIBMAN, PRESIDENT, PLACITAS
In 1987 a group of Placitas, New Mexico residents organized a concert
to benefit the family of a young girl who was badly burned in a
local home fire. The concert, presented in the new sanctuary of
Las Placitas Presbyterian Church by a group of local musicians who
later became known as the Helios String Quartet, was very well received.
Many, many people asked for more concerts in the beautiful and culturally
diverse mountain community of Placitas. Not only did members of
the audience express their pleasure at hearing chamber music in
a local venue, but the church sanctuary also revealed its special
acoustical gifts. Thus was born the Placitas Artists Series (PAS),
which has been offering an annual concert series at the church ever
since. This season marks their twentieth anniversary.
From its founding, PAS has established a solid
reputation for providing music of consistently high quality, at
extremely modest cost (an Albuquerque Journal reviewer has described
PAS as “one of the best bargains for quality music in the
area”). Until the end of the 96-97 season, the Helios Quartet
anchored the series with five concerts of chamber music. Since that
time its violist, Willy Sucre, has continued the association by
organizing the five concerts with a changing combination of musicians
which has been dubbed “Willy Sucre and Friends.” The
“Friends” he has chosen are some of the most accomplished
and best known chamber musicians in the area. These chamber music
concerts are augmented by diversified programs of choral, folk,
jazz, bluegrass, or country music ensembles.
Very early on, PAS realized that it could also
support the visual arts by offering juried exhibits of the work
of local artists in the church Fellowship Hall. It decided to hold
receptions for selected exhibitors before each musical performance,
in order to present artists and their work to concertgoers. Exhibits
continue to this day, displaying the work of 36-40 visual artists
each year. A new group of artists is on display each month of the
concert year, September to May.
Not long after the exhibits were begun, PAS
found other ways to serve the Sandoval County community. For several
years it cosponsored the annual Hispanic Music Festival in Bernalillo.
And it initiated and continues to expand its outreach program in
public and pueblo schools in the county with the Music in the Schools
program. This outreach offers performances of music, drama, puppetry,
even opera, to schoolchildren in the area. Each year the school
outreach program reaches more children in more schools. In recent
years Sandoval County has supported the school outreach program
as well as providing PAS a grant to offer some free concert tickets
to senior citizens.
The Placitas Artists Series has continued to
grow in stature and reputation throughout the region. It enjoys
wide support from private and government sources. Continuing, strong
support from the county and from individuals in the community is
essential to PAS’s success. Numerous local small businesses
sponsor concerts or advertise in our program booklet (which remains
one of the most attractive in the area). Many people in the community
make annual donations so that ticket prices can remain low and musicians
can receive pay commensurate with their talent. In addition, donations
support our free child care policy and the special concerts we are
able to offer from time to time.
The all-volunteer Board of Directors has always
taken a conservative approach to financial planning. They offer
their services, often of professional quality, without pay, and
they enlist other volunteers to assist them. Grants and contributions
are used to enhance the outreach, visibility, and professionalism
of the series.
Administrative costs are kept to a minimum,
whereas performers are paid well.
PAS provides a vital service to Sandoval County,
building a sense of community in this area of cultural and economic
diversity and promoting interest in the musical and visual arts
as well as encouraging musicians and artists. We hope to see you
at a future concert. Season tickets are now on sale now through
August 31. For details, please see our ad on page 2, this Signpost,
or visit placitasarts.org.