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Jade Leyva

Jade Leyva in her Bernalillo studio in the Old Town Shoppes complex. Her painting Mira como me dejaste (Look how you left me) hangs above.

Signpost featured artist of the month: Jade Leyva

Leyva inspires artists to create


It can’t hurt that she looks like Frida Kahlo—considering that she’s a painter. But Jade Leyva is no moody melancholic, so the ghost vanishes with the first spark of energy from the thirty-one-year-old Placitas artist.

Mexican by birth, Leyva’s boundless enthusiasm and happy ambition make her right at home in America. She turns the stereotype of the depressed artist on its head, bursting with enthusiasms from pop to prehistoric.

Her work ranges freely from Pre-Colombian frescoes to postmodern bleeding hearts, from photography to pottery. She always made things as a child growing up in an artistic family in Mexico City. But it was really a series of lucky coincidences—or a talent for courting them—that landed Leyva in a Santa Fe gallery, in her own studio, and in a beautiful home in Placitas.

She had been working in a fine art gallery in Mexico City in 2000 when her family asked her to come help with their restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Something unbelievable happened,” Leyva relates, her eyes sparkling.

She served a local customer who told her about his art collection. When she walked in the door of his house, she says, “I was amazed! Pre-Colombian things I saw at home, but Native American pots … I had never seen anything like it,” Leyva says, her eyes wide.

Her new friend Bill Freeman happened to be one of the nation’s top collectors of prehistoric pottery, as well as a Western oil painter and artisan known for his painstaking replicas of Native American ceramics. Leyva asked if she could try making something in his studio, and from that moment she was hooked.

“When I was not working, I would be in the studio all the time,” she says. “I learned to antique, learned restoration, he taught me so much about art, about classical music.” Freeman, eighty, who has mentored a half dozen artists over the years, offered Leyva a place to stay, and eventually she started moving between his homes in Scottsdale and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Before long, she had gallery representation in Jackson Hole.

Leyva came along when Freeman relocated to Placitas. Bright, animated, and enthusiastic, it took no time for her to make friends. She met Marguerite, a bead artist, while waitressing at The Range Café. “We hit it off right away,” Leyva said. “We had the same interest in doing art and talking about world peace.” The two talked and laughed so much, they feared for their jobs.

They dreamed of getting a studio together and doing art full-time. They decided to show at an art exhibit at the Old Town Shoppes, where owner Sara Chadwick was hatching a plan to create an artisan colony. After the show, Chadwick offered them one of her small adobe buildings in back to help “seed” the colony, initially for just a commission off their sales.

“Not in our wildest dreams did we think we could have a space together!” Leyva said. Translating dreams into reality was becoming her form of artistic alchemy.

Last summer, Leyva placed a call to Huey’s Fine Art, the Santa Fe gallery where Freeman had started selling his pots. They gave her an appointment, agreed to represent her, and she has since been selling three or four of her kachina paintings every month, in addition to the work she sells through the gallery in Jackson Hole. Together, the artwork now nearly supports her.

Her partner at the shop, Marguerite, credits Leyva with inspiring her to take the leap to full-time artist. “She really, truly, when she says that limits are self-imposed—she taught me that,” Marguerite said. Leyva had talked her into making the rounds of the Santa Fe galleries, literally pushing her through doors to show her work. “It’s because of her that I’m showing at the Institute of American Indian Arts,” she says admiringly.

Leyva shrugs and says, “a lot of it is pure luck.” But she quickly concedes that opportunities appear all the time—“for fear, people don’t take it! But there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she says with great conviction. “If it doesn’t work, OK, you had the experience.”

Currently, Leyva is working on textured masonite painted with Pre-Colombian designs from Panama, as well as colorful Neo-Mexican acrylic paintings distressed with heat. A self-taught photographer, she shoots black-and-white portraits, landscapes, and copy work for fellow artists.

“I don’t have a limit,” she says of her future plans. “Whatever you want in life, you have to go for it—not to be scared of anything or anybody!” Such outpouring of creative energy is an inspiring source indeed.

Huaraz Interloper, photograph, by Barry McCormick

Illumination on Pluto, painting, by Mary E. Carter

Eyeballs peeled, stereogram, by Gary W. Priester

Placitas artists McCormick, Carter, and Priester at Valentine’s show

As guests of painter Santiago Perez, Barry McCormick, Mary Carter, and Gary Priester will show their recent work, curated by Santiago Perez, at the annual Valentine Show at the 105 Studios. Opening night is Friday, February 8 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The 105 Studios (formerly the DCAC) is located at 105 4th Street in Albuquerque.

Figurative surrealist painter Mary E. Carter rearranges and juxtaposes human and animal forms to reveal new and unexpected ideas. She creates a feeling of space and depth in her paintings by using thin transparent washes in which her figures fly, float, or fall. Her paintings from 1980 to 2007 and her essays and observations about art and life may be viewed at

Gary Priester will offer his newest stereographic images covering themes from politics to just plain fun. Two-dimensional images pop with three-dimensional hidden images in vibrant color. His stereograms may also be enjoyed online at

Barry McCormick’s photographic images exploit the male and female figure to celebrate the body and comment on the human condition. Images from his unsettling draped figure series will be presented, as well. His work can be seen online at

Resident artists at the Studios include Santiago Perez, Stacy Hawkinson, Michael Carter, and Gayle Van Horn as well as photographers Val Hollingworth, Wes Naman and Benjamin Winters, and printmaker Janet Shagam.

The show continues throughout the month of February and will be open February 15 to 17 and February 22 to 24 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. or by appointment. Call (505) 244-4188 or (505) 363-3868 for information and appointments.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Rio Rancho Art Association fourth annual Studio Tour scheduled for April

The Rio Rancho Art Association (RRAA) announces its fourth annual Artists’ Studio Tour, scheduled for Saturday, April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Local fine artists working in a variety of media including oils, acrylics, colored pencil, watercolor, photography, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, and mixed media will open their studios to visitors who wish to view their latest creations and see where and how they work. For those who would like to meet local professional and amateur artists, understand their creative processes, and inspect their methods and artistic direction, this tour is a fantastic opportunity. Maps to the participating artists’ studios will be available at a number of local businesses as the date approaches.

The Studio Tour is being sponsored by the City of Rio Rancho Cultural Parks and Recreation Department, the Observer newspaper, and the RRAA. For further questions about the Studio Tour, contact Ellen or Damon Rawlings at (505) 994-4199 or email

The Rio Rancho Art Association is a nonprofit association of local artists working in media ranging from colored pencil and pastels, oil and acrylic paints, watercolor and photography, to sculpture and fabric art. Established in October 2004 and boasting in excess of 140 members, the Rio Rancho Art Association is developing a reputation as the premier art association in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area. They are dedicated to the advancement and awareness of local professional and amateur artists, as well as the visual arts in general.

To contact the Rio Rancho Art Association for further information on upcoming events or for a membership application, call Joanne at 771-0748 or visit the group’s website at

Dudding artwork inspired by Sun Dagger at Chaco

Jaymes Dudding’s original artwork entitled “Chaco Rising” has been selected to be placed outside of Rio Rancho’s new City Hall.

Through the direction of the City Council and the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, the city put out a call to artists from Sandoval County to submit their ideas for consideration. The intention of the RFP was to seek a piece of art to enhance visitors’ experience while at City Hall. Each City Councilor provided $2,000 from their discretionary fund accounts for a total of $12,000 available for design, fabrication, construction, installation, and engineering costs.

A selection committee consisting of city staff, District 3 City Councilor Delma Petrullo, and City Hall architect Greg Hartman of the Hartman & Majewski Design Group reviewed and scored proposals that were submitted. Each proposal was evaluated using criteria such as experience/background of the artist, quality of rendering submitted, quality of past projects, and quality of proposal submitted.

The winning proposal will represent a modern interpretation of the ancient Sun Dagger Solar Calendar at Chaco Canyon. Between 900 and 1150 AD, Chaco Canyon, located in northwest New Mexico, was a center of culture for ancient Pueblo people. Dudding’s piece will recreate the phenomena of the Sun Dagger petroglyph, which during the summer solstice created a single band of light that bisected the center of a rock spiral. Additional light fell on a nearby petroglyph that marked the spring and fall equinoxes. Only recently, for unknown reasons, has this regular occurrence ceased to exist.

“Ancient solar calendars and markers exist around the world. My piece is an attempt to recognize and pay homage to the ingenuity and beauty of the Pueblo people,” said Dudding.

This piece of public art is currently being installed near the east entrance of City Hall. The piece will rise to eight feet tall by approximately ten feet in diameter. It is anticipated that all work and installation is to be completed by the end of January.

Art Heart

One of the many “art hearts” available at the “Mi Corazón” benefit show in February.

Got heart?

It is time again for the “2nd Annual Mi Corazón” silent auction to benefit the nonprofit RCI, Inc. of Rio Rancho. Art Gallery 66 is pleased to once again host this unique Valentine’s Day art show to auction wonderfully fun, colorful, and imaginative art hearts created by a great pool of talent from all over New Mexico.

RCI, Inc. will be celebrating “50 Years of Caring” in 2008 and strives to improve the abilities, interests, and choices of children and adults with physical, developmental, or behavioral challenges. Your support of “Mi Corazón” will help to ensure the quality of RCI programs in helping individuals overcome obstacles and become contributing members of our community.

The best part of these original art hearts is that there were no boundaries for creating them. Therefore, the public will get to choose from all kinds of approaches to the hearts by the artists, and some are entering multiple pieces, which means their imaginations went wild.

The event takes place the weekend before Valentine’s Day—in time to buy that one-of-a-kind gift for your favorite valentine. Friday, February 8, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. is preview night of the hearts, with a live body painting demo by artist Pam Trent. The actual auction is on Saturday, February 9, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some of the twenty professional artists to participate to date are OK Harris, Darryl Willison, Marjie Bassler, Gene McClain, Van Emery, Jenny Durrett, Lyla Garcia, Marilyn Meuret, and Thomas Tomlinson. RCI members will also participate with their creations, so there will something for everyone. The highest bidder wins!

Art Gallery 66 is located at 373 North Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo. For more information, call 867-8666 or visit

David Burgess

David Burgess, guitarist

Placitas Artists Series presents David Burgess


On Sunday, February 24 at 3:00 p.m., the Placitas Artists Series will present an exciting concert featuring guitarist David Burgess.

David Burgess has established a reputation as one of today’s outstanding guitarists. He has won top honors in many international music competitions, including the Ponce International Competition in Mexico City, the Guitar ‘81 Competition in Toronto, and the 31st International Music Competition in Munich.

Burgess began studying guitar at the Estudio de Arte Guitarristico in Mexico City, with the pre-eminent Argentine guitarist Manuel Lopez Ramos. He later earned a Diploma di Merito, while receiving a full scholarship at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna, Italy. After earning a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Washington, he was appointed guitar instructor at both the University of Washington and the Cornish Institute of the Arts in Seattle.

In 1984, he was selected as the first recipient of the Andres Segovia Fellowship, after which he periodically received classes from Maestro Segovia until the maestro’s death in 1987.

Burgess has performed solo recitals to critical acclaim throughout North and South America, Europe, and the Far East. As an orchestral soloist, he performed with prominent U.S. orchestras such as the American Chamber Orchestra at Kennedy Center, the St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Virtuosi.

The concert is generously sponsored by our friends at the First Community Bank of New Mexico.

Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for February exhibiting artists, Claudia Fluegge, Sarah Hartshorne, Jeremy Stein, and Donald A. Tubesing.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on February 24 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 or online at Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 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 located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). For more information, call 867-8080.

Jazz Workshop readies for great show

On Saturday, February 16, at 8:00 p.m., the New Mexico Jazz Workshop will present its 32nd Annual Guest Artist Series with Dennis Mackrel and The Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra, plus the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet and special guest Bobby Shew.

The New Mexico Jazz Workshop has worked closely with the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra to bring jazz artists that perform with and lead this fine local ensemble. On February 16, seasoned Jazz Drummer, and Composer, Dennis Mackrel, will perform with the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra.

Mr. Mackrel has traveled extensively and has worked with notable musicians that include Lionel Hampton, Kevin Mahogany, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. He has performed with ensembles such as Slide Hampton and the Jazz Masters, The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni Band, The Manhattan Symphony Jazz Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Classic Jazz Orchestra, The Hank Jones Trio, The Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra, and the American Jazz Orchestra.

In February of 1990, Dennis became drummer in The Mel Lewis/Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He was also a featured soloist in the West Coast Premier of “Charles Mingus' Epitaph.” Trumpeter/Composer, Gabriel Alegria, draws on Peruvian folk songs and folk traditions, resulting in a unique Latin Jazz sound that incorporates intoxicating polyrhythms of coastal Peru. Born in Albuquerque, Bobby Shew is well-known for his fiery bebop trumpet, and for over three decades has performed and recorded with the elite of the Jazz world.

The concert will be at the African American Performing Arts Center in Albuquerque. Tickets $25 general, $20 NMJW members, $10 students. For further event and ticket information, call 255-9798 or visit their website at Season ticket (three concerts) discounts are available.

Adobe Theater seeks play proposals from directors

The Adobe Theater seeks proposals from directors for plays or musicals to be produced August through December 2008. The deadline for submissions is February 15.

The Adobe presents ten shows annually, choosing their season from proposals submitted by directors. New talent is welcomed. Published works have the best chance, but if a director is enthusiastic about an original script, it will be considered. Directors who wish to work at The Adobe, but are unsure what show to propose, may request title suggestions from the committee.

For further instructions and information, contact Joann Danella at 898-6866 or

Are you ready for a revolution?

Beginning on January 15th through February 2nd, performers from around the world—Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Pakistan, Canada, New York City, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and more—will come together in New Mexico for the 8th Annual Revolutions International Theatre Festival.

Produced by Albuquerque’s own Tricklock Company, the three-week-long festival will feature some of the world’s most “revolutionary” theatre at venues across Albuquerque and Santa Fe, showcasing everything from comedic theatre to burlesque acrobatics. The Festival highlights the region’s heritage as a crossroad of global exchange and artistic innovation by bringing the world stage to the Southwest.

In addition, the festival will feature other events, including The Reptilian Lounge, where Albuquerque performers of all types—dancers, actors, comics, musicians, contortionists, magicians, and others—are invited to bring a short piece of work to the stage for a live audience in a no-holds-barred Cabaret. The Lounge will feature select performances of many of the visiting festival artists, creating an artistic exchange between the touring artists and Albuquerqueans.

The festival will also feature The Excavations New Works Series, which acts as a platform for Tricklock Company members to workshop and develop their original shows in progress. Albuquerqueans are also invited to the festival’s official base camp—O’Niell’s Pub & Grill, which will play host to parties and special events, and serve as a destination for after-show gatherings and a place audience members can go to get the latest news about the festival.

For additional details on the performers and their shows, photos, or to set up interviews with the performers, contact Jessica Trumble or Alexis Kerschner at (505) 266-7220, or email or For more information about the Revolutions International Theatre Festival, including a complete schedule of events, visit



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