JB Bryan in front of his Placitas
Inside the teahouse
Painting (detail), by JB Bryan
Signpost featured artist of the month: JB Bryan
The funky real
JB Bryan’s vision of life and art come together in a funky
kind of laid-back, purposeful serendipity. He works hard at it,
describing himself as compulsively creative—painter, poet,
potter, publisher, and all-around “putterer.” Take his
recently completed twelve-by-twenty-foot adobe teahouse, for example.
Built by his own hand—with a little help from his friends—from
foundation up, the construction did not go according to a rigid
plan. The hope was to fit a Japanese-inspired mountain hut into
the space available on his Placitas Village property, but to build
it according to traditional New Mexico style with materials available.
The foundation required more concrete than planned, but then it
kept the floor out of last summer’s floods. The floorboards
were too short, but resulted in a one-of-a-kind pattern. The door
was made from leftover decking from the ceiling. Plastering day
ran short of time, but the line where the inside white plaster ran
out mirrors the twisted shape of a post retrieved from a woodpile
at Ghost Ranch, plus the remaining rough wall contrasts just right.
The attic space serves as a hideaway for his daughter.
In Japan, teahouses are given poetic names, according to JB. “I
told a friend that I was thinking of ‘Pine Breeze,’
but she said that sounded too much like an air freshener. ‘Placitas
Tea Shack’ fits well with my New Mexico vernacular approach,
so that will do until the right name comes along.”
As a potter, JB specializes in “wabi-sabi” tea bowls,
which celebrate “beauty of the modest and humble, the unconventional
and asymmetric, and the frugal and elegant ... the funky real.”
He writes, “Wabi-sabi recognizes a beauty found in overlooked
aspects, an inconspicuous detail, or the obvious. Wabi-sabi discovers
a beauty that exists in the pattern of lichen on stone, in furrowed
fields of corn, the bark of trees, a bird nest, or lines on a face
as record of laughter or endurance. Using a tea bowl offers a moment
to appreciate this bare, flawed, fleeting, beautiful life.”
Kneeling in the tea shack, across from a novice to tea ceremonies,
JB explained that his approach was informal by Japanese standards.
He said that whatever authority he might have comes from bringing
it together—from the wabi-sabi authenticity of the tea shack
and the bowl—and from mindful drinking of tea. “It’s
sort of a field of dreams.”
“Art is something that happens in the process of ‘making
special’ with a quality of imagination coupled with hand-eye
coordination,” he says. “As a painter, I’m well-versed
in the art world, but more drawn to cave paintings and pictographs
than art as a commodity created for connoisseurs.”
You can find JB working the acequia on his day to water fruit
trees and garden. “My paintings are inspired by the nuances
of transformation which arrive out of botanical happenstance and
new growth. They’re nondescriptive landscapes that attempt
to reflect the rhythm of nature,” he says.
JB divides his time between a home in the North Valley and the
Placitas studio-house originally built for the late dancer-choreographer
Lee Conner and later owned by the late Signpost columnist and teacher
An old hippie with Grateful Dead bumper stickers still adorning
his pickup, JB would make a fine starving artist, but stays fairly
well fed working as a graphic designer. He and his wife, Cirrelda,
are owners of La Alameda Press (laalamedapress.com),
a small company dedicated to the publication of poetry. They promote
local poets through the Duende Poetry Series, which is in its third
year. (On Sunday, January 21, at 3:00 p.m. they will present a tribute
to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca at Anasazi Fields Winery
JB’s recently published Big Thank You, a book of
poetry, speaks volumes about sense of place, attention to detail,
and awareness of natural surroundings. “I sent the book to
friends and people I admire,” he explained. “Their appreciation
is all the critical acclaim I really care about.” He says
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder liked it, calling the book
“funny and serious.”
Here’s a poem from the book:
In the Late Afternoon
the emotional drama
most people find interesting to talk about
only causes me to beg for mercy
& run screaming into the street
of fabricated half-remembered events
& sticky gum disappointments
from peevish invalid assumptions
I’d rather opt for useful
be willing to be a mess
to feel the top of my head
& the soles of my feet all at the same time
blue sky against my skin
I—who stand strangely in a strange sense
outside at work on the woodpile
a patriot of gladness
in the late afternoon
hear cranes before I see them
down the river
then they’re gone
Renowned pianist Awadagin Pratt to play in Placitas
—JACKIE ERICKSEN, BOARD MEMBER, PLACITAS ARTISTS
On Sunday, January 28, pianist Awadagin Pratt will join violist
Willy Sucre, violinist Krzysztof Zimowski, and cellist Joan Zucker
in a Willy Sucre and Friends program of piano quartets by Schumann
Former New Mexico resident Pratt is an artist who challenges the
classical music establishment. His musical insight and intensely
involving performances receive accolades throughout the United States,
as well as in Europe, Japan, Israel, Brazil, and South Africa. A
winner of the Naumburg International Piano Competition and an Avery
Fisher Career Grant, Pratt has played recitals in such venues as
New York's Lincoln Center, Washington's Kennedy Center, and Chicago's
Orchestra Hall. He has soloed with the New York Philharmonic, and
boasts an impressive discography.
Increasingly active as a conductor, Pratt is currently assistant
professor of piano and artist in residence at the University of
Cincinnati College—Conservatory of Music, and is artistic
director of Pennsylvania's Next Generation Festival.
Krzysztof Zimowski is concertmaster of the New Mexico Symphony
Orchestra, and Joan Zucker is its principal cello. Both have performed
many times for Placitas audiences in the past.
The concert is generously sponsored by Sally and Jack Curro.
Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for January exhibiting
visual artists Elizabeth Balco, a fabric-collage artist, landscape
and wildlife photographer David W. Cramer; watercolor artist Woody
Duncan, and watercolor and collage artist Kay Richards.
The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on January 28 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 on-line 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 six miles east of I-25, on NM 165 (Exit 242).
For more information, call 867-8080.
Collaborative-art duo enjoys a visiting-artist
stint in NY state
Placitas artists Wayne Mikosz and Riha Rothberg have returned
from a two-week trip to the Finger Lakes region in western New York
State, where they were invited to participate as visiting collaborative
artists in the Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts Program at Alfred University
in Alfred, New York.
Craig and Becky Prophet, of Alfred, invited Wayne and Riha to
ply their trade in this very different venue. Craig is a well-known
painter with national representation, and Becky is the head of Alfred
University’s theater arts program. Becky’s production
of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night opened at Alfred University
on November 15. Both have ties to New Mexico.
Wayne and Riha’s stint was to introduce freshman liberal-arts
students to collaborative painting techniques and thinking, utilizing
their proven methodology and having pairs of students paint spontaneously
on paper as well as canvas with an intentionally minimal palette.
The students had all had previous rudimentary painting exercises
in color, technique, and structure, but had not yet had an opportunity
to “cut loose and let their talent hang out” as Wayne
“I’m not sure we’ve made any converts to a painter’s
life here, but we certainly all had fun and the students produced
some wonderful work,” Riha said. Both agreed that aside from
the beautiful campus setting and the outstanding facilities for
artists, the gorgeous fall weather (interspersed with cloudy, gray,
and wet days, which they soaked up like Southwestern sponges) made
the experience much more wonderful than they could have hoped for.
And, at long last, look for Wayne and Riha to establish collaborative-painting
workshops here in the future. Contact can be made through Convergence
Studios in Placitas, at 771-1006.
Federico García Lorca
A tribute to Federico García Lorca
Duende Poetry Series is beginning its third year with a tribute
to Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, on Sunday, January
21, at 3:00 p.m., at Anasazi Fields Winery, in Placitas. There will
be readings by Joan Logghe, Gary Mex Glazner, Leo Romero, and Gary
Brower, with accompaniment by Flamenco dancer Susana Garrett and
Flamenco guitarist El Niño David. This tribute also pays
homage to Garcia Lorca's essay "Teoría y juego del duende"
(Theory and Play of the Duende), which has become an essential way
to view many aspects of the Spanish tradition in poetry, music,
dance, and bullfighting. This concept was adopted by Placitas poet
Larry Goodell in 1964 for the name of his small press and then for
this reading series.
Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) is one of Spain's major
poets and dramatist, a member of the Generation of 1927, a group
of writers who advocated a fresh modernism in the literature of
that time. After a period of great creative activity, Lorca was
shot by Falangist (Fascist) soldiers in the opening days of the
Spanish Civil War. In his drama and poetry Lorca found a balance
between the traditional and the avant-garde, between mythology and
contemporary cultural trends. His work was seminal in bringing about
a unique Spanish surrealism, influencing such artists as Salvador
Dali, Rafael Alberti, and Pablo Neruda.
The concept of "duende" can be hard to pin down. Historically
in Andalusia, the duende was a household goblin-like spirit responsible
for causing mischief. But the word was also used to describe artists
whose music or dance was especially inspired: “This has much
duende.” Lorca begins to describe duende by borrowing Goethe's
allusion to the “mysterious power, which everyone senses and
no philosopher explains.” It is a force that is irrational
and intuitive; spiritually connected to the earth and aware of death.
“All that has black sounds has Duende,” wrote Flamenco
singer Manuel Torre. This sense of darkness refers to the mysterious
power of being alive, of the ancient energy that "surges up
from the soles of our feet." Interestingly, Lorca argues that
the duende is not simply what we call the muse, nor what he calls
the “angel” of religious inspiration. Duende recognizes
death as a unique force animating an artist to respond with the
utmost sincerity, thus involving intense personal struggle from
the depths of one's being.
Gary Brower, poet and a Duende Poetry Series organizer, will perform
with dancer Susana Garrett and El Niño David, a Flamenco
guitarist who has written on “Flamenco & the poetry of
Lorca & Alberti.”
Gary Mex Glazner is the executive director of Bowery Arts and Science,
the nonprofit wing of the Bowery Poetry Club. In 2005 Glazner was
commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera to create and perform Lorcaland
for their festival on Lorca. He has given many workshops and lectures
on Lorca, and in 1998 he spent two months in Lorca's hometown of
Granada, Spain, during the one-hundredth anniversary of the poet's
Leo Romero, owner of Leo's Books in Santa Fe, said “Lorca
was an early influence on me when I was a young writer. I loved
(still love) the music of his language, which reaches profound depths
of feeling and understanding.”
Joan Logghe, New Mexico's beloved “poet laureate,”
says: “When I found Lorca's essay on duende in The Poet In
New York, it was as if Lorca was out there waiting to nab me. Since
smitten in the sixties with Blood Wedding and Bernarda Alba, there
has been a tug and a pull towards his surreal beauty. I remain in
Anasazi Fields wines will be available for tasting and purchasing
at the reading, and books and CDs by the participants will be for
sale. Admission is free, though hoped-for donations will go to pay
the poets and musicians.
For further information, please contact Jim Fish. of Anasazi Fields
Winery, at (505) 867-3062 or email@example.com,
or Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, at (505) 897-0285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local artists organize auction to support Planned
Parenthood efforts in NM
On Friday, November 3, over sixty artists and almost ninety works
of art in a variety of media were showcased at the Downtown Contemporary
Art Center in the first annual Choice Art Auction for Reproductive
Freedom. Spearheaded by four very dedicated and special community
volunteers, Louise Garry, Stephanie Lerma, Beth Simpson and Linda
Mae Tratechaud Doezema, this benefit for Planned Parenthood of New
Mexico raised almost $10,000 for the reproductive health services
that PPNM provides.
Thanks to the kindness of local businesses and the community at
large, almost everything from the food to the gallery space was
donated for this evening. Anasazi Fields Winery, Artichoke Café,
Chama River Brewing Co., Fano Bread, Gruet Winery, The Range Café,
Satellite Coffee, St. Clair Winery, and Whole Foods Market provided
light hors d'oeuvres and wine for the four-to-five hundred guests
that arrived throughout the evening. Local musicians, including
Capricorn Productions, Mark Dankert, Jason Darensburg, Bernie Higgins,
Mickey Jones, Jeremy Mayne, Carol Riley, Johnny Wilson, and Lewis
Winn provided live entertainment during the evening; Josh and Colleen
Franco, of the Downtown Contemporary Art Center, donated their space
for this wonderful event.
Since 1964, Planned Parenthood of New Mexico (www.ppnewmex.org)
has been ensuring access to reproductive and complementary health
services for all, with a special concern for the underserved populations.
PPNM believes in the right of every individual to make fully informed
private decisions about reproductive healthcare, and works to ensure
that accurate sexuality education is provided to everyone in our
Planned Parenthood does more to reduce the number of unintended
pregnancies and abortion than any other organization.
Mi Corazón sale, auction at AG66 gallery
—JUDITH AND ROGER ALVERNAZ
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we have something
special going on in Bernalillo to help you celebrate. Since it is
the traditional day on which people express their love for one other
by sending Valentine cards, candy, or something very special, Art
Gallery 66, in Bernalillo, will hold a special event, Mi Corazón,
on Saturday, February 10, to benefit RCI of Rio Rancho. There will
be a silent auction of hearts created and decorated by notable and
passionate artists Darryl Willison, Marjie Bassler, Barbara Besser,
Gene McClain, Henry Kennison, Eden Alvernaz, Carol Bryant, Dennis
Foulkrod, Theresa Muniz, Del Lack, Liz Kaplan, John Flores, Fran
Kruker, Michael Copeland, Victoria Copeland, Barbara Baum, Asja
Kornfeld, and many more. You can bid on these one-of-a-kind “art
hearts” and find other gifts in the gallery that will make
your loved one's heart beat faster.
At the same time you will be supporting your community, because
the event will benefit RCI, Inc. of Rio Rancho, a nonprofit organization
that provides services to enhance the lives of children and adults
with diverse abilities and needs, through education and rehabilitation
strategies, to achieve their highest levels of self-sufficiency
by “realizing confidence and independence” (thus “RCI”).
All of RCI's services emphasize family involvement, community integration,
and freedom of choice. One of RCI's programs is the day habilitation
program at its Rio Rancho site, which provides daytime activities
for people with disabilities and helps them achieve productive and
rewarding lives. Activities focus on five areas: socialization,
vocation, recreation, education and service based community integration.
Clients with artistic aptitudes are provided with support for expressing
and developing their talents, and you will see their work at the
gallery, where we have not only hearts they have designed and decorated
for this special event, but wonderful greeting cards for all occasions
that they have made as well.
Visit us at the gallery between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. on February
10 and enjoy a special treat. Meet some of our passionate artists
and dedicated RCI staff and board members who have joined together
to show their love and appreciation for this selfless organization.
Art Gallery 66 invites you to stop by on Friday, February 9, for
a preview. For further details, call Art Gallery 66, at (505) 867-8666.
Art Gallery 66 is at 373 North Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo.
Take Exit 242 from I-25 west, and north on Camino del Pueblo, the
Historical Route 66.