Sandoval Signpost

 

An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
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Signpost featured artist: Mary Carter

Grounded, surrealistic painting, by Mary Carter

Mary Carter’s A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah

—Oli Robbins

Since the late Nineties, Placitas artist and author Mary Carter has produced numerous paintings that feature a “goose girl,” a female figure with the head of a goose and a body in a state of transformation—somewhere in between realistic and abstract, woman and animal, past and present. Carter created these images almost automatically, without analysis. But looking back, she realizes that the series is representative of her own metamorphosis as she transitioned to Judaism. She considers the many components of this journey in her recently-published book, A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah: On Becoming Jewish After Fifty. Her reflective essays will provide comfort and guidance to others who are considering embracing Judaism, but they will also resonate with anyone who has questioned identity or undergone profound personal change.

Carter, who for many years worked as an advertising copywriter, is married to Placitas web and logo designer (and stereogram-creator) Gary Priester. The two fell in love at first sight, or as Carter writes, “Near enough.” Though Jewish, Priester and his family never persuaded Carter to convert, and did few things “Jewishly” other than marrying and burying with a rabbi. Over the years, Carter did learn bits about secular Judaism from the Priesters, such as the primacy it seemed to place on critical thinking and questioning. Writes Carter, “Nobody will entice you to join the tribe. You have to make your own decisions, think your own thoughts, question your own motives.” Carter appreciated such an approach, as she was never one to blithely accept ideology. She remembers once asking her mother, “But Mama, what about all the Hindus and the Buddhists and all the people in China who might be good people, living good lives? Will they burn in hell if they do not accept Christian doctrine?” Her mother’s answer was firm and clear: “No. They will not burn in hell if they are not Christians. It doesn’t work like that.” For Carter, this was a defining moment, “My mother set me free to think for myself... to ask difficult questions, to explore, to learn, to change, if need be.” Carter’s mother instilled within her the strength to study and evolve, to mindfully embark upon a path of self-discovery.

Carter believes that there is Jewish ancestry in her bloodline, and includes an essay on her family’s history (part-recorded and part-imagined). But while she continues to research her mother’s family, the Zimmermans, she’s found little with regard to origins and traditions. And with such scant evidence, Carter could not be granted a “ritual return to Judaism.”

“So,” she writes, “I will proceed with Introduction to Judaism classes and study with the rabbi for another way to join.”

As a student of Judaism, Carter has enjoyed pockets of revelation, to which she responds viscerally. Writes Carter, “Sometimes when I experience an ‘aha moment,’ I giggle inappropriately... To me it feels like it starts in my heart… It is the same way after many of my Introduction to Judaism classes. I leave class smiling as I walk to my car. Sometimes, inappropriately given the serious nature of some of the lectures, I giggle.” Carter was met with these giggles as she emerged from her mikvah, a “Jewish ritual bath used for the sanctification of a conversion.” But before the giggles, she was terrified. That Carter decided to call her book A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah demonstrates the significance of the mikvah for Carter, a woman who does not—can not—swim. Writes Carter, “...the mikvah drove more terror into my heart than the contemplation of God.” She prepared by dunking her face in her studio sink. She considered taking swimming lessons, even asking for a dispensation. But ultimately, she did it. And upon entering the water, her fear melted away and an intense “buoyancy” reigned. Writes Carter, “On my fourth dip I plunge in, almost euphoric... Uncertain now of only one last thing: that it might not be okay to laugh, to giggle.”

As an artist, Carter invites inspiration, intuition, and spontaneity. She writes, “I am accustomed to working from my right hemisphere. Even in my career as an advertising copywriter, the best headlines pop into my brain without so-called rational thought.” And it is this same process that carried her into Judaism, the commitment to which she calls “a Eureka Experience... a pure aha moment of existential relevance.”

Carter points out that a word is rarely “just” a word, as many are inextricably attached to implications. She writes of the power of one particular word with which she is often associated: convert. Taking issue with this label, she notes that the word “carries with it many negative connotations,” such as the historical periods in which Jews were pressured to convert away from Judaism. To Carter, she was a convert for only an instant, before she surfaced from the mikvah waters. But “forever after,” writes Carter, “she is a Jew.”

Carter will be discussing her book at several upcoming events. You can hear her speak at the Placitas Community Library on February 7, at 2:00 p.m., at Congregation Albert’s Author Introductions Panel on February 15, at 3:00 p.m., and at an evening book presentation at Congregation Albert on April 7, at 6:00 p.m. Learn more about her book by visiting www.tovah-miriam.com. Copies can be purchased from Arte de Placitas or Amazon.com.


Call for artists—18th Placitas Studio Tour

Placitas artists are invited to exhibit at this year’s upcoming 18th Annual Placitas Studio Tour. Applications will be available February 1. This year’s Studio Tour is on Mother’s Day weekend—May 9 and 10. The Studio Tour is open only to artists and artisans who are Placitas residents or who maintain their working studios in Placitas.

Beyond paying an entry fee, artists are required to attend a mandatory orientation meeting. They also must help with the many road signs that make it easy for guests to locate the studios, and help with various other duties required.

Visit the website www.PlacitasStudioTour.com to get more information and print your application. The deadline to submit an application is on Valentine’s Day, February 14.


“Sharp Fuzzy,” stereogram, by Gary Priester

Artist reception for Gary Priester’s collection Opposites Attract

Placitas artist Gary W. Priester will be exhibiting a collection of hidden image 3D stereograms through the month of February at the Placitas Community Library. The exhibit is titled Opposites Attract and features a series of 20x16” framed stereograms with hidden words. A free reception for the event will be held on February 13, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Library.

Stereograms are 2D images that when viewed correctly produce the illusion of actual 3D space. Most people are capable of seeing 3D. It is just a matter of proper viewing technique, which Priester is always eager to demonstrate. “I love it when people see my images for the first time. It is a truly magical experience when suddenly 3D objects appears in what is in reality a flat surface,” Priester explains.

Priester, a Placitas resident since 2000, whose 3D Stereogram images are featured each month in the Sandoval Signpost, is the co-author of five books of stereograms, three iPad stereogram apps, and a Kindle e-book of stereograms. Priester and co-author Gene Levine have been the sole contributing artists for the past ten years to the popular Japanese stereogram magazine series TJMOOK Magical Eye which has sold close to six million copies.


“Corazones,” photograph, by Lynne Pomeranz

Pomeranz, Bueno hold fundraiser to feed horses

“Wild Hearts,” an art show and sale of photographs, by David Bueno and Lynne Pomeranz, will take place at The Red Boot Gallery in Bernalillo from February 1 to March 1, with an artists’ reception on February 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from print sales will be used to buy hay intended for some Placitas horses that have been removed from BLM land.

In honor of Valentine’s weekend, there will be a raffle during the artists’ reception for a framed print of “Corazones,” by Lynne Pomeranz. Raffle tickets are $10 each.

The Red Boot Gallery is located in The Range Café, 925 Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo. For further information about the gallery show, contact the Range at 867-1700.


Sky

breathe in the sky

let it be the reason why

everything is related

and language is difficult

—Larry Goodell

 

Violinist Dmitri Berlinsky

February Placitas Artists Series events play on

The 28th season of the Placitas Artists Series continues on February 22, with a 3:00 p.m. violin recital featuring acclaimed violinist Dmitri Berlinsky, accompanied by pianist Elena Baksht.

The program includes Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and Tzigane, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Franz Schubert’s Duo in A-Major and Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky’s Meditation, Opus 42, and Valse-Scherzo, Opus 34.

The concert is sponsored by Wendy Wilkins and Jay Rodman.

Prior to the concert, at 2:00 p.m., a visual artists’ reception will feature the art of Peter Boehringer, photography; Karl Hofmann, acrylic painting; Katherine Irish, pastel; and Geri Verble, jewelry. Their works, which are for sale, are on display from January 31 to February 27.

Says Boehringer, “There is no journey, road, trail, location too far, or weather conditions too adverse, for me to follow the call and photograph the Southwest.”

Says Hofmann, “I try to catch the heat, the color, the mystery and the magic of this ever-changing landscape. Step into the painting and experience it. Don’t just observe it.”

Says Irish, “Nature is a window to a presence much larger than we are. Light teaches us about impermanence. My art points to being mindful of our experience of life’s beauty.”

Says Verble, “I begin by choosing a world bead or pendant I have collected. Many come from co-ops that work with some of the world’s poorest. Working with these pieces creates designs that satisfy the human spirit.”

The concert and artists reception both take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

Tickets for the PAS concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert or may be purchased for twenty dollars in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store at 120 E. Highway 550, Bernalillo; or on-line at www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org. Tickets at the door are twenty dollars for general admission and $15 for students with ID. Music students through high school are admitted free with a paying adult.

Placitas Artists Series projects are made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, call 867-8080 or visit www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org.


Self-portrait, by Juan Wijngaard

Corrales Bosque Gallery features the art of Juan Wijngaard

Juan Wijngaard is a painter, book illustrator, musician, and luthier. He was born in Argentina, moved to the Netherlands as a teenager, and went on to graduate from the Royal College of Art in London. His book illustrations have been on display at the London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Barbican Center, the Pompidou Center in Paris and across the United States.

He moved to the United States in 1989, and in 2003 started painting in oils for its own sake. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Corrales where he has been painting full time, as well as taking up wood engraving, retablo painting, and gilding. He says, “After illustrating the written word for 27 years, it’s refreshing to attach no other words than a title to my work.”

The exhibit will run from February 1 through February 28, every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Corrales Bosque Gallery is located at 4685 Corrales Road. For more information, call 898-7203.

Also running through March 17 at the gallery is the Corrales Bosque Gallery New Year Show of 2015. They will be offering new work by award-winning, professional artist members, including Rick Elkin, a new jewelery artist to the gallery.

One of the oldest cooperative galleries in New Mexico, Corrales Bosque Gallery has been artist owned and operated since 1994. It is located in the heart of the old village of Corrales, just a short and scenic drive north of Albuquerque.

 
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