An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


JB Bryan in front of his teahouse

JB Bryan in front of his Placitas teahouse.


Inside the teahouse

Painting (detail), by JB Bryan

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 Carl Hertel.

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 (, 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 in Placitas.)

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

mostly residue
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

—JB Bryan

Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert
Renowned pianist Awadagin Pratt to play in Placitas

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 and Brahms.

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 phrased it.

“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

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 birth.

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 his thrall.”

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, or Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, at (505) 897-0285 or

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 ( 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 community.

Planned Parenthood does more to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortion than any other organization.

Mi Corazón sale, auction at AG66 gallery in February

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.






Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page   Up Front  Animal News   Around Town   Business   Classifieds   Calendar  Community Bits  Community Center  Community Profile  Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Sandoval Arts   Schoolbag  Time Off