An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Jim Fish
Photo by Bill Diven

Fim Fish, at home with wood

Jim Fish, Heart of Apricot, detail

Heart of Apricot, detail of tall wood carving in apricot wood

lm-wood Bowl

Free-form elm-wood bowl on cottonwood stump

Signpost 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 of sweet.

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 or by calling 867-3062. The winery is near the end of the original Placitas irrigation ditch, at 26 Camino de los Pueblitos.


Muddy water
Churning red shale
Muddy water
Tumbling tossing
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 newcomers
Some of us in between

Only a few of us
Still water
A la ditch

Muddy water
Churning red shale
Muddy water
Tumbling tossing
Thru the village
Down the ditch

Others pay off kid or neighbor
Screw the work
Or flip it all
And use the hose
Even worse
Just let it go:

Muddy water
Dirty red muck
Muddy water
A la ditch

The satisfaction

The sounds
The smells
The orchards sighing

A slow soaking shot


A la ditch

—JIM FISH, Placitas

Signpost Cartoon copyright Rudi Klimpert

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 Nature Park.”

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 Alibi.

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 collection.

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 connoisseurs.

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, visit or e-mail 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 Rancho.

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 that piece!”

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 at

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 August

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 to you.

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 powerfully told."

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.

The Exonerated 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 detail

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, and crocheting.

“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 Foundation.

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

Placitas Artists Series president Gary Libman

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 20th season

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






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