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Yvonne Korotky

Yvonne Korotky in her Rio Rancho art studio

c. Yvonne Korotky

Little Bud, painting, by Yvonne Korotky

c. Yvonne Korotky

Rabbit Drinking, painting (detail), by Yvonne Korotky

featured artist: Art with a heart: Yvonne Korotky

—Oli Robbins

Many artists wish—if only behind closed doors—to achieve both wealth and fame. And why not? To luxuriate in the success of your art sounds like a dream to many. But not to Yvonne Korotky. The Rio Rancho painter professes to care very little about making money from her art. “To me,” says Yvonne, “money doesn’t matter. It only matters when you don’t have enough to eat.” Other artists may publicly voice the same sentiment, but it’s one that’s easier to preach than practice, right? Not for Yvonne. Making art has become an indelible part of who she is. Painting not only brings her great pleasure and fulfillment, it also helps to feed and support those less fortunate. Yvonne gives 75 percent of the proceeds of each work that she sells to a charity.

Yvonne’s heart has always been big, but it didn’t always have art as its partner. As a child, in Middletown, New York, Yvonne was discouraged from creating. She was curious about and attracted to art, but buried those interests in an attempt to please her parents, who believed in discipline over frivolous pursuits (like art). It wasn’t until the year 2000, in Cortland, New York, that Yvonne allowed art into her life, and into her heart. She and her husband, Michael, were enjoying a lazy Saturday morning when Michael called for Yvonne to come check out a program on the TV. “It was Bob Ross,” says Yvonne. “I watched that demonstration, and it clicked. I said to myself, ‘I can do that. I know I can do that.’” Somehow, that was the first time Yvonne had ever seen The Joy of Painting, and it would be the last. But, to borrow the words of Ross himself, “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” That serendipitous Saturday morning propelled Yvonne to begin her affair with painting. She went out and bought extensive, cheap supplies, and procured several how-to art books. Those books satisfied her impulses for about six months, at which point she enrolled in a correspondence course on art, which was the only “formal” training Yvonne ever received. She had high hopes for painting en plein air, but found that her allergies didn’t fancy the idea of multiple hours outside. So, she did the next best thing and bought a high quality digital camera, snapped photographs of her favorite sites, and painted from her photos.

Before she admitted her proclivity for art, Yvonne held a number of different jobs. Her training in and skill at shorthand landed her secretarial positions at an orthopedic doctor’s office, Intertek Testing Services, and a law office. She also kept busy raising her children, in whom she fostered creativity. By the time Yvonne and Michael moved from New York to Rio Rancho, in 2003, Yvonne was firmly entrenched in her new calling. While working at the Rio Rancho Observer newspaper in customer service, she met Hal Ashmead, a painter and illustrator on whom the paper was running a feature. Yvonne was deeply impressed and inspired by Ashmead’s work, which she likens to that of her favorite artist, Richard Schmidt. Ashmead would become her mentor for the following year, until Yvonne met her next mentor—and eventual dear friend and mother-figure—Evelyn Peters.

Yvonne found it impossible to stay away from art, and so recognized her true passion. “I was working full-time, but was also being mentored, so I painted until 2:00 a.m., three nights a week.” One night, she decided she wanted to paint a water drop on a flower. With no extensive art training, Yvonne had to teach herself such techniques. She remembers saying to herself, “I’m going to paint a water drop, and that’s all there is to it!” She struggled with the task for three hours, but eventually got it. Looking back on that moment, Yvonne thinks, “Why it was so difficult amazes me at this point. It’s second nature when you know how, but if you don’t, it’s a challenge.” Moments like that encouraged her to grow as an artist by daring to practice new, advanced methods. “I knew I couldn’t leave it alone,” remembers Yvonne, “I was glued to art.”

Michael contributes to Yvonne’s process by building most of her frames—an altruist like his wife, he also volunteers his handyman services to friends and neighbors in need. This gesture is largely responsible for the duo’s decision to give much of their proceeds to charities. Because Yvonne doesn’t have to purchase frames at an art store, she saves a great deal of money. When she makes a sale, she only keeps enough to pay for her materials, and donates the rest. “When I sell a painting, no matter what it is, I give three quarters of it to a charity.” Many years ago, when working and acting as a single mother, Yvonne encountered rough times. “We had basically nothing,” says the artist. She was in need, but knew that there were needier families still. She recalls, “At Christmas time, you could buy a fifty pound bag of potatoes for five dollars. I would load it into the car with my kids and take it to the church to feed the homeless. I always wanted to do that, you know.” Among the charities Yvonne and Michael give to are Albuquerque Rescue Mission, Joy Junction, Walkin N Circles Ranch (a horse rescue), Storehouse West, Sunflower Sanctuary (which cares for old dogs unlikely of being adopted), and Watermelon Mountain Ranch. Yvonne also offers her paintings to charitable auctions. She recently painted a children’s chair for an auction at Los Poblanos to benefit the Ear Institute; the chair sold to former Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish.

In addition to Weems Gallery, Yvonne shows at Joe’s Pasta House and O’Hare’s Grille in Rio Rancho, US Bank on Southern Boulevard in Rio Rancho, and Lovelace Hospital. She also runs two art venues, one in Rio Rancho and one in Albuquerque called “Art Works with Faith,” where she and five other artists exhibit. Her work is reproduced in two art books and appeared in the latest issue of International Artist Magazine. Last year, Yvonne wrote, illustrated, and published a children’s book entitled Abbey’s Story, based upon the adventures of her basset hound, “Abbey.” She can be contacted by phone at 892-5254, or email:

c. Mary Lee Dereske

Wooden Boat Fading Away, photograph, by Mary Lee Dereske

Placitas photographers at ANMPAS

—Betsy Model

Placitas is home to a thriving group of artistic individuals. Among the artists are some outstanding photographers. Five of them were recently juried into the Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show (ANMPAS), which will run from December 8 to December 29 in the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico. Photographic artists from all over New Mexico compete for awards at this prestigious show. All works are for sale. You can meet the photographers at the opening reception on December 7, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., also at Expo New Mexico.

Helen Johnson’s Iconic New Mexico was captured at Acoma this year. “The lines of the church are so classic,” explained Johnson. “I felt a black and white treatment would eliminate everything that might distract from the beautiful church itself. I also added an element of glow to the church to contrast it against the surrounding darkness.”

Mary Lee Dereske made her image of Wooden Boat Fading Away at a turn-of-the-century salmon cannery near Prince Rupert, British Columbia. “Natural light coming through a tall window illuminated the front of this wooden boat as the remainder of the boat faded into the shadows,” said Dereske. “The interplay of light and shadow, the peeling paint, the separating wood and rusting eye on the front of the boat are a metaphor of how the culture and life of the cannery industry has faded from our times.”

Barbara Rosner is an avid hiker, and she had a special moment when encountering this wild horse on a mesa in the open space. The resulting photograph became Mustang in the Wind. “I gave the background an artistic treatment in post production,” said Rosner. “I wanted to concentrate the viewer’s eye on the spirit of this majestic creature.”

Marie Maher’s piece, entitled In Minerva’s Dreams, was developed over time. It started with the curtain blowing in the wind in an abandoned building. “I loved the shot, but wanted to do more with it,” explained Maher. “Since I’m often inspired by dream-like imagery, I created the interaction of the woman transfixed, perhaps frightened, by the moon. Then came the spider web, pulling it all together.” (Minerva is the Roman manifestation of the goddess Athena in Greek mythology, who turned Arachne into a spider.

Tom Farrell‘s image, Friends, is part of a project he started last year. His objective is to capture color, shape, motion, and emotion as expressed by people’s feet while walking or standing and relaxing. “In this image, I captured a moment at a rodeo when two people drew close as an expression of their friendship. I think it works rather well,” said Farrell.

See these images and the photography of artists from all over New Mexico at the Annual Photographic Art Show. For more information, go to

Solstice candlelight poetry

—John Green

Winter settles on the mountain, and the cold moves downwards. The north facing slopes hold the snow now. The Elders huddle at the crest and pull their green and white blankets snug.

The longest night is coming: solstice.

Come and celebrate the new winter season and welcome back the slowly stretching days at the Winter Solstice Candlelight Poetry Reading at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, scheduled for December 21, at 7:00 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Luminous Night,” and ten poets will read a poem to the light of a single burning candle. Each poem is followed by a short interlude of silence to provide the listeners a moment of contemplation.

After the readings, refreshments will be served in the fellowship hall—a chance to meet and chat with this year’s poets. Attendees receive a beautifully designed chapbook containing the evening’s poems.

The Winter Solstice readings are a regular offering of the Earth Care Fellowship at LPPC and The Partnership for Earth Spirituality, as part of the Earth Vespers series.

The event is free, donations welcomed. All are invited. If you have questions about this year’s event, contact John Green at 867-0240, or email

c. Dana Patterson Roth

Fine art photograph, by Dana Patterson Roth

Placitas Artists Series presents concert and artists reception

On December 15, the Placitas Artists Series will present The Stu MacAskie Trio Meets the David Felberg Quartet for an encounter between jazz and classical music. Along with Stu MacAskie on piano will be Asher Barreras on bass and John Bartlit on drums. Joining David Felberg on violin will be Megan Holland on violin, Justin Pollack on viola, and James Holland on cello.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door, one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance ($20/$15). For further details, see or call 867-8080. The concert is generously sponsored by Claudia Moraga, Rondi and Duane Thornton, and Susie Heide.

Preceding the concert at the church, a reception will be held at 2:00 p.m. for December visiting artists Peter Boehringer, Lisa Chernoff, Dana Patterson Roth, and Adriana Scassellati.

Their works will be on display from November 30 until December 29. The reception is free and open to the public.

Peter Boehringer’s photographs capture the vastness and light of the American Southwest. Lisa Chernoff explores the three-dimensional and textural aspects of glass; her work is sold in galleries nationally. Dana Patterson Roth uses photography to convey her fascination with the visual world of light, shape, color, texture, and mood. Adriana Scassellati expresses the natural, vibrant colors of New Mexico through pastels. These artists’ works may be previewed at

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 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, visit or call 867-8080.

c. Bunny Bowen

Wearable art: Bunny Bowen (scarf), Riha Rothberg (hat)

c. Riha Rothberg

Placitas Community Library hosts wearable arts show

The Placitas Community Library will be holding their Wearable Arts Annual Holiday Show and Sale throughout the month of December. Six Placitas artists, specializing in wearable art, have been asked to participate. A sampling of their work will be on display and can be purchased throughout the month. Many more items will be available for sale at their reception on December 14, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The artists will donate a portion of their sales to the library. Participating artists are: Gene Anderson, Bunny Bowen, Sandy Johnson, Judith Roderick, Riha Rothberg, and Geri Verble.

Natural materials are the cornerstones of Gene Anderson’s designs in leather. The Western traditions of hair-on and tooled patterns are integrated with modern design elements to create useable works of art. Her work has been featured in the international magazine, Cowgirl, as well as in the popular Crow’s Nest catalog.

Bunny Bowen has worked in batik since 1980. Brushing layers of molten wax into silk to resist dyes, she continues a 2500-year-old tradition that has been practiced all around the world. Her silk scarves are inspired by local Placitas wildlife, environmental concerns, and study travels in Asia. Her work can be seen at Arte de Placitas Gallery and on her website at

Sandy Johnson’s bold, contemporary jewelry designs are uniquely inspired by the beautiful mountain landscape that her studio overlooks. She uses stones, beads, metals, her own lamp work beads, and incorporates fibers whenever possible.

Judith Roderick has been painting silk scarves for thirty years and loves to portray images of the birds, especially cranes, and the flora and fauna that abounds in New Mexico. Her work can be seen at the Rio Grande Nature Center in the Nature Shop and on her website at

Riha Rothberg frequently departs from painting to enjoy combining her fiber and bead collections via her grandma’s crochet lessons. She will share one-of-a-kind hats, cowls, and other accessories. Her unique crocheted items are available year ‘round at the Tapestry Gallery in Madrid, New Mexico.

Geri Verble is an accomplished jewelry design artist, specializing in tribal and ethnic jewelry. She developed a passion for collecting ethnic beads and pendants while traveling with the Peace Corps. She credits her focus on Stagecraft Design in college for influencing her unique sense of design in creating her one-of-a-kind pieces. Geri’s jewelry can be found at Bright Rain Gallery in Old Town, Albuquerque, and on her website at

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