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Andi Callahan

c. Andi Callahan

c. Andi Callahan

c. Andi Callahan

c. Andi Callahan

c. Andi Callahan

Fine art jewlery, by Andi Callahan

Signpost featured artist

The fated jewels of Andi Callahan

~Oli Robbins

If you find yourself driving behind a car with a bumper sticker that reads, “easily distracted by bright and shiny objects,” you just may be sharing the road with Placitas jeweler Andi Callahan. The artist has forever been drawn to vibrancy and possesses “a love for all things color.” She’s worked extensively in Raku pottery, glass, precious metal clay, and traditional metal smithing, building an expansive and radiantly colorful body of work.

Despite her sincere appreciation for the aesthetic, Andi has not always been an art-maker and refers to herself as the “antipode” of her former self. For years she worked as a director for a nonprofit engineering society in Atlanta. “That was a wonderful job and a whole other world,” says Andi, who eventually moved westward to Oklahoma to be with her husband. She experienced a bit of a shock upon relocating, finding herself in an unfamiliar environment and suddenly without a career. But with the transition came a new identity, fueled by creativity and an eagerness to learn. One pottery class was enough to pull her onto an artistic highway. Says Andi, “I thought, maybe I’ll take a pottery class. And I did it. And I went right into it. It’s been a journey, I’ll say that.”

In Tulsa, she located a production potter who worked in a large warehouse with a variety of glazes. Andi rented space from him, bought her own wheel, and welcomed his advice and knowledge. She mastered Raku pottery—which beckoned her due to the glaze options it offers—and created a few dozen pots each week, successfully selling them in Sedona and Tulsa. It depends on the glaze you use, but Raku can lend itself well to color. There are certain glazes where you just get amazing ranges.”

Another learning opportunity later steered Andi away from pottery and toward glass. Along with a dear jeweler friend, she travelled to Dallas to complete a Glass 101 course. “Glass was just coming to the forefront of the art field. And the class was all I needed.” Prior to the Dallas trip, Andi had minimal exposure to or interest in glass, but always believed in the power of the new to stimulate the mind. “I realized I could get all the colors I want, right there. I didn't have to stand out in the cold doing Raku firing and hoping it comes out right.” When she returned to Oklahoma, she dove headfirst into three-dimensional glasswork—buying a kiln, making mistakes, and developing a relationship with the medium.

Placitas has been home to Andi and her husband, Chuck, for 21 years. “I love it,” says Andi. “I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.” Her love affair with the state began serendipitously. When she was working with the engineering association, she traveled all over the country setting up meetings. She was to attend a regional meeting in Colorado and was convinced by one of the association’s volunteers to extend her trip a few days and fit in an introduction to New Mexico. That volunteer, and his wife, took Andi on a fun and culture-filled tour of the state—from an iconic tram ride to the Santa Fe plaza, to Chimayo and Taos (where she recalls being “indoctrinated to a Michael’s breakfast”). In the years that followed, Andi found time each fall to come back to New Mexico. She’d spend days looking at artwork in galleries and carry her inspiration back with her to Oklahoma. When Chuck retired, the duo made Placitas their permanent home.

The artistic communities in Placitas and Bernalillo were immediately welcoming to Andi. She is especially indebted to Bernalillo artist Jake Lovato, who carried her work in his gallery for many years. Andi was an early participant and committee member of the Placitas Studio Tour, having been with the tour for the entirety of its twenty-year run. In 1999, Andi enrolled in yet another course, this time in Santa Fe, to study precious metal clay. She was immediately enthralled by the material and started fashioning jewelry. Says Andi, “To me it was just like, ‘I’m home again’! Like playing with pottery, but on a lower scale.” She jokes, “And the rest of my life went downhill from there.”

Precious metal clay came naturally to her, but traditional metal smithing, necessary for her growth as a jeweler, demanded a bit more practice. Kilns were easy for Andi to grasp, but the torch was not. Says Andi, “I don’t think I will ever love the torch, but it’s a means to an end, so I had to learn to use it.” Andi’s fine metalwork, which is often intricate and yields organic patterns and forms (some evocative of nature), highlights the stones that serve as the central focus. She concentrates on creating a harmony between each element in her work. Most of her stones are purchased in person at the Tucson Gem Show. “It sounds a bit woo woo,” says Andi,” but the stones kind of talk to me.” Rather than seeking out specific stones, she waits to see which ones “turn a switch on” inside of her. Often a unique stone is all she needs to mentally compose a ring or pendant.

Look for Andi during the Placitas Studio Tour this May (, or visit her work at Jeff Warren Fine Arts in Old Town or in Santa Fe at John Rippel U.S.A. You can view Andi’s current pieces on her website ( or schedule an appointment with the artist by phone (771-1111) or email (

Call for artists for the 2017 Placitas Studio Tour

The Placitas Studio Tour—a Mother’s Day weekend event much anticipated by artists and visitors alike—has remained unique because it is a true local artist studios-only experience. Tour founder Riha Rothberg and new director Andi Callahan have already been fielding inquiries from potential new participants and want to offer some basic information here.

The tour is open only to artists and artisans who are Placitas residents or who maintain their working studios in Placitas. Detailed guidelines are part of the application form, which will be available on February 1 via the website— Deadline for receipt of applications is Valentine’s Day, February 14—no exceptions.

The Tour has always been all-inclusive in that it is not a juried show. Participants join a creative community and share their energies to make the event a success. Beyond paying the entry fee, artists are required to provide a high-quality digital image of their work, attend a mandatory orientation meeting, help assemble or dis-assemble the many road signs that make it easy for guests to locate the studios, and help with various duties required for several committees.

“Artists love that they don’t have to cart their work and set up at a distant venue. Collectors come to us, and we can engage in a relaxed non-gallery setting, explaining, and sometimes demonstrating, techniques. People are truly fascinated to see the wide variety of work spaces created by various types of artists,” Rothberg says. “The artists also have the fun of seeing each other’s studios on the Saturday following the tour, if they opt in. This has become a highlight of participation for many of us.”

Images stay online for a year with links to studio websites. Our wonderful local sponsors are also listed year to year. Use the “Contact Us” button to inquire about sponsorship or with other questions. For further inquiry, you may call Andi Callahan at 771-1117 or Riha Rothberg at 771-1006.

Placitas Artists Series presents classical guitarist Aniello Desiderio

Aniello Desiderio is a guitarist’s guitarist, known for both his expressiveness and his precision. He has won numerous international awards and has performed throughout the world, both with orchestras and alone. His most recent appearances include concerts in Adana (Turkey), Paris, the 12th Singapore International Guitar Festival, and his hometown of Naples, Italy.

On February 12, at 3:00 p.m., the Placitas Artists Series will presents Mr. Desiderio performing solo works by Spanish and Italian composers. The program includes works by Albéniz, Turina, Coste, Scarlatti, Giuliani, and Domeniconi.

The concert is generously sponsored by Claudia and Robert Moraga and the Cates Team at RBC Wealth Management, and by Wendy Wilkins and Jay Rodman.

Prior to the concert, a 2:00 p.m. visual artists reception will feature works by Karl Hofmann, acrylic; Geri Verble, jewelry; and Dennie York, pen and ink. Their works, all of which are for sale, are on display through February 24.

The concert and visual artist reception 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.

Individual concert tickets are $25, $15 for students with ID. Music students through high school are admitted free with paying adults. Tickets can be purchased at the door one hour before the concert, subject to availability. Advance purchases can be made at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store, 160 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo; or online at

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, email, or visit

Call for artists for the Placitas Artists Series 2017-18 season

The Placitas Artists Series (PAS) invites all New Mexico artists and craft-persons, 18 years of age and older, to submit three electronic images of their work and a completed application found online at (click on the “Visual Arts Application” link at top of page) by March 31, in order to be selected by jury for a monthly exhibit during the PAS 31st season, September 2017 through May 2018. The online application contains all instructions and the fee is $15.

The PAS presents inspiring art and music in a welcoming venue located in the Placitas foothills. An opening artists’ reception is held on the day of each monthly concert; and artists selected by jury receive publicity and a year’s exposure on the PAS website—

For additional information, contact Vicki Gottlieb, PAS Visual Arts Chair at 404-8022 or

Festival Chispa presents Palenke Soultribe and Baracutanga

On February 17, at 8:00 p.m., Palenke Soultribe and Baracutanga will perform at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Palenke Soultribe is a live electronic music collective fusing electronic sounds with Afro-Colombian rhythms and melodies. Originally formed in Colombia, now based in Los Angeles, Palenke Soultribe's infectious Afro-Colombian rhythms are served with spicy electronic production. Their sound draws on deep Colombian roots, while infusing the vibrant beats of today's flourishing Alternative Latino scene.

New Mexico's own award-winning pan-Latin collective Baracutanga will open the show with their joyously powerful, socially-conscious original Latin sound.

Tickets are available online at

Festival Chispa and New Latin Music Series is presented by Avokado Artists and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

City of Albuquerque's Public Art Program seeks artist for mural project

The Albuquerque Arts Board, University Heights Neighborhood Association, and the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) have initiated a Request for Qualifications to commission a mural located in a bustling neighborhood in the economic core of historic Central Avenue. The south facing wall of PNM's Cornell substation

is 108.75' in length x 11' in height. The wall will be resurfaced to provide a new, fresh surface to support the new mural. The wall will be located close to Silver Avenue, which is a designated bike boulevard, currently undergoing improvements by the City which will allow it to better serve bicyclists, pedestrians, and skateboarders.

The Art Selection Committee seeks a vibrant mural, appealing to neighborhood residents, the general student population, and business owners in the immediate area.

The selection committee for this competition/commission has determined that there will be no specific theme imposed on the project. Successful entries will be judged on aesthetic vision, excellence of past projects and suitability for the site being offered.  

The deadline for all application materials are due at the Albuquerque Public Art Program by February 10, by 4:00 p.m. Email all materials to

A full prospectus can be found at This project is open to individual artists/artist teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible for this opportunity. Questions about the project can be directed to the project coordinator, Dan Fuller, at or by calling 768-3837.

Mask, by Linda Nisenbaum

Fox mask, by Lisa Goldman

“Mask de Arte” exhibit celebrates Mardi Gras

In honor of Mardi Gras, Placitas community artists have unleashed their artistic and creative skills by entering the "Mask de Arte" exhibit challenge. Masks can be made out of anything, using any medium available and will be on display at the Placitas Community Library from February 4 through March 2.

A public reception will be held on February 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Please attend adorned with a mask to celebrate the occasion. Artists participating in this exhibit include Ellen Baker, Mary Lou Skelton, Lois Manno, Bonnie Hayes, Geri Verble, Patty and Corky Baron, Linda Nisenbaum, Carol Ordogne, Lisa Chernoff, Marcia Rackstraw, Karen Jones Meadows, Karen Shatar, Rebecca Cohen, Lisa Goldman, Linda Davis, Shawn Moon, and Wanda Cavanaugh.

Woman Dancer, Pablita Velarde of Santa Clara Pueblo.

Pueblo Dance, by Gilbert Atencio of San Ildefonso Pueblo.
—Photos credit: Courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture—Laboratory of Anthropology

Temporary exhibit featuring Native American Easel Art at Jemez Historic Site

~Annie Campagna and Matthew Barbour, New Mexico Historic Sites

In the early twentieth century, a group of Native American artists gained recognition for producing portable paintings, depicting traditional cultural practices and life experiences. Known as “easel paintings,” these works reflected a new form of artistic expression for Native Americans in New Mexico. The paintings were illustrated in a distinct two-dimensional graphic style, primarily using opaque watercolors.

Early self-taught artists to gain recognition in “easel paintings” included Alfonso Roybal of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Later, the art form was promoted and popularized at the Santa Fe Indian School, first under the direction of the DeHuff Family in 1916 and later Dorothy Dunn in 1932. They believed art education to be a great motivator and a realistic and rewarding vocational choice for their students. Many notable Native American artists picked up this distinctive form of artistic expression under the tutelage of Dunn and the DeHuffs. Among these artists were Fred Kabotie (Hopi), Velino Shije Herrera (Zia), Pablita Velarde (Santa Clara), Eva Mirabel (Taos), Allan Houser (Chiricahua), and Ben Quintana Harrison Begay (Navajo).

Some critics denounced the “easel paintings” as “pagan,” due to their depictions of non-Christian symbols and activities. This led some to question its artistic merit. Yet others, such as Edgar L. Hewett of the Museum of New Mexico, embraced the new art form for these very reasons. Many of the “easel paintings” were seen to encompass a very real and very vivid depiction of indigenous life in New Mexico.

Today, early twentieth century “easel paintings” are highly acclaimed by both critic and collector. The public at large can explore this art form with a temporary exhibit entitled, “Native American Easel Art” at Jemez Historic Site. This exhibit features facsimiles from the Dorothy Dunn Collection, curated at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology. It includes pieces by many notable artists, such as Vidal Casiquito Jr. of Jemez and Gilbert Atencio of San Ildefonso. After viewing the exhibit, learn about Jemez history and culture as you explore the 17th-century ruins of Giusewa Pueblo and San Jose Mission.

Jemez Historic Site is located at 18160 Highway 4 in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and is open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admittance is $5.00 per adult. There is never a charge for children. Jemez Historic Site is free to New Mexico seniors on Wednesday and all New Mexico residents on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 575-829-3530, email to, or go to

Star Wars Fest 5 coming to Rio Rancho

~Annemarie L. García

On February 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Star Wars is taking over Rio Rancho’s Loma Colorado Main Library. This free, all-ages event, with origins in a galaxy far, far away, has something for everyone to enjoy. Last year’s Star Wars Fest attracted more than one thousand attendees.

The Loma Colorado Main Library is located at 755 Loma Colorado Boulevard. For more information about this program, including the complete activity schedule, visit the Library's website at

The 501st and Rebel legions are all-volunteer organizations that seek to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes and by supporting their local communities through costumed charity and volunteer work. For more information, go to or

Corrales Bosque Gallery hosts show

The Corrales Bosque Gallery will be hosting their next show beginning January 20 and running through March 21. The work of the membership will be enhanced by a new member, Laura Balombini. Her paintings and scarves are as exciting and vibrant as the artist. Laura maintains the virtue of being a storyteller through her art. She describes these narratives as “born with grace and flow, some we uncover using tears and trowels. We dig, scratch, soften, pray... I bring my favorite ingredients, imagery, color, longing and a desire for discovery to the studio.”

The show also continues the practice of inviting a guest artist and is pleased to have the photography of Corrales resident, Sandra Corless. She works from nature but with a decisive focus “on an intimate level one… currently exploring and creating limitless imaginary environments where beautiful colors and forms look like paintings. The resulting photographs become sculptures of light, texture, and dimension that celebrate the physical and spiritual grace found within the simplest elements of Nature.”

You are invited to come enjoy the moment with the full cast of members and their many exciting approaches to art. The gallery is open daily, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed Mondays. It is located at 4685 Corrales Road in the Mercado de Mayo.

For more information, call or visit out website: 898-7203;
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