An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Collage by Dianna Shomaker
Collage, by Dianna Shomaker

Shomaker’s art examines the soul

If there is a connection among anthropology, art, and medicine, Dianna J. Shomaker can tell the story from experience.
As an anthropologist, she studied the generational ties within Navajo families, which connected with her work as a nursing professor interested in health issues of the elders. And both informed her art, as the worn features of a grandfather emerge from beneath a cowboy hat in a collage of paper shards.
In another piece, inspired during a visit to Colombia, a near-toothless singer strumming a guitar continues to serenade although now he is a trio. With a style between abstract and realism, Shomaker tries to tell a story, she said, to make the viewer look at what more might be there.
“Art should be an examination of the soul,” Shomaker said. “You just keep gluing at it and painting at it and gluing and painting until something emerges, and you take it from there.
“It’s just cut paper; some of it's torn.”
Shomaker set out to be an artist in high school, winning a regional competition and a college scholarship that paid for eighteen months of art education before the money ran out. Casting about, she found nursing school and a career, living in Norway, England, Germany, and Texas before settling in New Mexico, in 1973.
By the time she retired from the University of New Mexico, she had been an associate dean of nursing and a director of graduate centers and had earned a doctorate in anthropology
“I didn't paint a thing for fifteen years,” she said. Then one art class led almost randomly to another, one instructor pressing abstractionism, another teaching how to wield a palette knife instead of a brush.”
Others showed how to make colored papers by pressing wet tissue against old metal to draw out the rust or by soaking a magazine advertisement in solvent until the colors swirl together. The mixtures of paper and paint rise from watercolor paper, foam sheets, or scraps of corrugated cardboard.
“Nothing is off-limits,” Shomaker said. “I would like to get to the point that I can do abstracts that suggest something.”
Shomaker’s paintings and collages have appeared in numerous juried shows and won state-fair ribbons and currently can be found at the New Fisher Gallery in Albuquerque. This month her work will be displayed at the Placitas Presbyterian Church as part of the Placitas Artists Series of concerts and group exhibitions.
The New Mexico Youth Symphony recently chose Shomaker as one of twelve artists applying their visions to violins. The symphony plans to auction the instruments during a fund-raising event in April.
Shomaker's Placitas studio is open by appointment, by calling 771-2936. Her work can be seen online by visiting and clicking on the Featured Artist link.

Rudi Klimpert, Signpost cartoon

Signpost cartoon, by Rudi Klimpert

The songs of Broadway in Placitas

On Sunday, December 11, Placitas Artists Series will present a special holiday program, “The Great Songwriters … The Great Songs,” by the group Broadway. Members of the ensemble will be familiar to many people from performances with Musical Theatre Southwest (formerly ACLOA), Albuquerque Little Theatre, Adobe Theater, and other venues.

Born in New York City, Myra Cochnar was a Broadway casting director and record-company executive before moving to Albuquerque. Jillian Foster has been performing in and around Albuquerque for the past decade, mostly with Musical Theater Southwest and Albuquerque Little Theatre. Albuquerque native Hi Tillery has appeared in the Grand Opera Theatre's production of Carmen and Opera Southwest's La Bohème, in addition to numerous MTS productions. Phillipine-born Virginia Weatherill has performed roles in opera, oratorio, and musical theater, and performed throughout the Southwest for twenty years with The Company. In addition to his numerous musical theater roles, Joel White sings with the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the men's a cappella group High Desert Harmonizers, which has performed the national anthem at several major-league baseball games. MacLean Zeher was a member of the choral group Quintessence and has performed in musical theater.

Broadway's musical director is John Clark, professor of music and director of choral activities at UNM, who is frequently heard as pianist or organist. He was the founding director of the NMSO chorus. The choreographer is Brynlyn Loomis.

This concert is generously sponsored by Sally and Jack Curro of Placitas.

Prior to this wonderful concert, a reception will be held for the December exhibiting artists. New Mexico native and Placitas resident Lisa Chernoff creates spectacular, colorful wall hangings, bowls, table sculptures, and jewelry from fused glass.

Madeline Randle paints impressionistic studies in oils, pastels, and watercolor in the old village of Placitas. A lover of her native New Mexico's spectacular light and the depth of shadows, Randle is particularly fascinated by the play of light on landscapes, animals, flowers, and people.

California-born, Oregon-raised Russell Sabin was a successful architect in Hawaii, where his architectural renderings and watercolor landscapes were well known. Retirement has allowed the pursuit of his dream of becoming a full-time artist, whose primary focus is the American West.

Though she enjoys drawing and traditional painting, Dianna Shomaker's attention has been captured by the thrill of artistic experimentation with collage, charcoal, and palette knife. [See Signpost December Featured Artist.]

As a special treat, renowned Placitas artist J.B. Bryan has been invited to exhibit a large work. Painter, poet, ceramist, graphic designer, and publisher, Bryan likes to believe that “at heart, my work is an antidote to warmongering, technological overload, corporate greed, and engineered stupidity.”

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on December 11 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The artists' reception begins at 1:30 p.m. 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; at Gatherings, 9821 Montgomery NE, in Albuquerque; or online at Prices are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible, and free child care is provided for families with children under six. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is six miles east of I-25, on NM 165 (Exit 242.) For more information, call 867-8080.

Ring, by Jamie Fox

Ring, by Jamie Fox

Jarrah Burl bowl by Bob Clancy
Jarrah Burl bowl, by Bob Clancy

Corrales Historical Society to hold 17th annual craft show

The New Mexico crafts exhibition and sale in Corrales at the historic Old San Ysidro Church from December 3 to 11 will feature crafts by selected artists in a variety of media.

The show will be open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily., with an opening reception on Friday, December 2, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

A portion of each sale at the show goes to the Corrales Historical Society for restoration and preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church.

There is no charge for admission or parking. The Old San Ysidro Church is on Old Church Road, three-tenths of a mile west of Corrales Road.

Amadito and Spider Woman
Illustration for Amadito and Spider Woman, by Amado Peña

Lisa Bear Goldman and friend
Lisa Bear Goldman and friend

Author will sign Amadito and Spider Woman

Lisa Bear Goldman’s Amadito and Spider Woman was a finalist for the Nautilus Award and a Southwest Books of the Year selection by Tucson/Pima County Library.

In the story, a young boy who is made fun of by a classmate is unsure how to deal with his feelings. Each of his family members offers different advice about how to protect himself. After walking in the desert with his grandmother and listening to her parables, he learns how to keep his heart open and not be afraid of his feelings. The book brings a fresh perspective to a common dilemma by pointing out the value of learning from nature and the wisdom of elders.

Beautiful illustrations by the well-known artist Amado Peña make this book very New Mexico.

The author, Lisa Bear Goldman, a Placitas resident, will be signing Amadito and Spider Woman starting at 4:00 p.m., December 18, at the Cottonwood Mall, 10000 Coors Boulevard. For more information, call Goldman, at 771-3309.

Barbara Vigil-Lowder and Bill Sapien
Bernalillo Public Schools superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder holds a quarter-million dollars in her hands after receiving the check from Sandoval County Commission chairman Bill Sapien. The money will help plan and build a performing arts center for the school district.

Planned BPS arts center receives $250,000 from county commission

A performing-arts center for the Bernalillo Public Schools remains a dream, although the $250,000 recently handed to the superintendent is quite real.

That's far short of the money needed for even the first phase of the $4-6 million center, according to BPS superintendent Barbara Vigil-Lowder. The district is moving in that direction and is seeking a contractor to draft a master plan for the forty-five-acre site housing Bernalillo High School and the district offices, she said.

An eleven-acre parcel recently added to the south side of the site is one possible location for the art center, she added.

“We're very committed in the district to the arts, and we have many programs already,” Vigil-Lowder told the Signpost. “We're looking at taking what we have now to next level.

“What we envision is an arts center that could house many things serving the Bernalillo Public Schools and all of the communities we serve.”

Until then, the choir continues to perform in the gym lobby, and students writing and producing opera perform at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe for a dozen busloads of friends and family brought in at district expense.
Sandoval County commissioners presented the $250,000 check to Vigil-Lowder at the commission's November 17 meeting.

“We want to further the goal of Dr. Gary Dwyer, who dreamed of a performing-arts center for the students of Bernalillo,” Sandoval County Commission chairman Bill Sapien said. Dwyer, who died in June from a malignant tumor, had been BPS superintendent for nine years.

Under an agreement approved at the previous commission meeting, the county money—part of the proceeds from handling the $6 billion Intel bond issue last year—will assist in designing and constructing the facility.

The district potentially has some funds available from the $11 million bond issue voters approved in 2004, although none of that is yet budgeted for the project. And a fund started by the Dwyer family is dedicated solely to the arts center.

“We do envision this as a center, a hub for the whole community,” Vigil-Lowder told commissioners. “I can see it being a wonderful place to bring the community together.”

Museum exhibition opens with lecture by master weavers

On December 11 at 1:00 p.m., the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History will host a free public lecture by master weavers Irvin and Lisa Trujillo of Chimayó, New Mexico. The lecture is being held in conjunction with the opening of the museum’s “Maravillas de los tejedores/Wonders of the Weavers: Nineteenth Century Río Grande Weavings” exhibition, extending through April 30, 2006.

The Trujillos will introduce the history of the Hispanic weaving tradition and comment on their review of the collection, which was conducted earlier this year. Working with curator of history Deborah Slaney, the Trujillos examined over forty weavings, noting haracteristics that make each one special or that allow us to enter the minds of the weavers. Their comments will cover a full range of styles, including jerga, weft-faced and tapestry-woven products, colcha embroidery, and a rare cotton blanket from Lemitar, New Mexico. A catalogue of the collection will be available for purchase.

The lecture is funded through a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council.



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