Veblen throws a bowl in her studio.
Cathy Veblen's hand-painted stoneware.
Veblen's Corrales studio Anthropottery (anthropottery.com) on Loma Larga at Camino sin Pasada. She also shows the work of other artists at the studio.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
—Keiko Ohnuma, Signpost
To say that potters are “down to earth” communicates more than empty humor. Cathy Veblen exemplifies the deeper implications of being rooted, physically and socially, in one’s soil, and manifesting like nature the marriage of passion and practicality.
The centered magnetism of the potter’s wheel might help explain why her clay studio, Anthropottery, drew a steady crowd during the 2009 Corrales Studio Tour, when most other artists in the village sat cursing the rain.
Veblen wasn’t focused on selling pots that day, as most days. Just as she had done the year before, she set up a table in her studio where visitors could try their hand at a quick art project, so that the invitation was to buy into the rewards of art-making itself, rather than its products—which nonetheless profited from the association.
“I think people are starving for art whether they know it or not,” she explains. “There should be more opportunities for creative encounters in our lives, communities, public spaces, and events.”
Potters are practical, Veblen likes to declare. But they are also devotees of the sublime in everyday life. More than most artists, the successful potter has to be both solitary artist and outgoing salesperson, purposeful and impulsive, always riding the wave of the yin and the yang.
“It has to do with the art of living,” she says of her rugged stoneware bowls, mugs, vases, and plates, which are churned out production-style but nonetheless bear the fetching marks of the quirky and handmade. “If you grow your own food and make it, you can’t eat it out of a plastic bowl.
“A lot of people like to argue about whether pottery is art or craft,” she adds, always in motion around her large, light-filled studio. “I have to keep working.”
Indeed, the art of living—making a life of art—appears to have been the great creative project of her life. Drawn to clay from her days as a Campfire Girl in southern California, she took clay classes all through high school and college, then ended up majoring in anthropology at Fort Lewis College in Durango (“lured into it because of the pot shards,” she quips).
A last-minute trip to China in place of her ailing grandmother had a decisive influence, as “there’s a little pottery in China.” Yet everyone advised her against trying to make a living as a potter. Veblen persisted with characteristic practicality. Enrolling in college business classes, “I thought if I was brave enough to visualize giving one hundred and ten percent of myself to this instead of the status quo… That opened my mind to the possibilities.”
That attitude served her well some fifteen years later, when she found herself divorced and on her own, flush with the proceeds from their home and studio near Seattle, but minus a spouse’s steady job and health benefits.
She was drawn eventually to Corrales, where she bought an old foreclosed home on Loma Larga Road and prepared to erect a metal shop building. But then a leisurely chat with a neighbor—the type for which Veblen is known—convinced her to erect a stick-and-stucco building instead. Together, she and the neighbor builder, Doug Wils, designed a large studio and rental unit heated with radiant flooring powered by solar collectors, which appeared on the Green Built Tour the next year. Veblen did the finishing work, which took her the better part of a year.
She received help along the way through another life-changing encounter, this time at Home Depot. She kept running into another neighbor named Paul Tenoso, a Sioux from South Dakota, who eventually presented her with a necklace bearing an arrowhead he had shaped himself.
“Then he gave me a great deal on manure,” Veblen notes, “which to a middle-aged woman is like a diamond ring—especially if you live on an acre of sand. I was completely taken.”
It wasn’t long before the two developed a rhythm, with him flint-knapping outside while she threw pots. In 2007, they chased a tip about the economic boom in Hobbs and Eunice, where she instantly bought a fixer-upper to rent. A month later she bought another, and for two years they would make the five-hour drive south for one week a month of exhausting home remodeling, learning as they went.
The rental units now support the two artists, along with their art sales and Veblen’s part-time job with Arts-in-Medicine at UNM. All of these ventures, to her, constitute a single creative whole. “Even fixing houses is fun and creative, because it’s problem-solving,” she says. The pace is hectic—they make and sell furiously toward year’s end, then shift to “damage control” on their houses and yards with the new year.
“A lot of days are ‘I can’t go to bed until…’ which is why people see the lights on (in the studio) late at night,” she says. Veblen and Tenoso sell regularly at Corrales’s Art in the Park, Old Church craft fairs, annual festivals, Santa Fe Farmer’s Market, and a few others, which involves so much loading and unloading of heavy boxes that they often leave their vehicles packed.
When time permits, Veblen collects ideas for Arts-in-Medicine projects and reference material for projects of her own, which fill a half dozen notebooks and two large card files. “But everybody works really hard,” she says in defense of a pace that might seem to leave little room for creative inspiration.
“The authority and autonomy we have in our lives—working all the time is all right when you have that, and know your own self-worth,” she muses. “And it’s very nice. We’re in here working, watching TV or listening to music, and to not have to go anywhere for three days is a great luxury.”
Veblen digs up a favorite quote from the great experimental musician John Cage, on the subject of inspiration: “I think people who are not artists often feel that artists are inspired. But if you work at your art you don’t have time to be inspired. Out of the work comes the work.”
Life itself is the work, as the potter knows. And as the connoisseur reads in her carefully considered yet breezily executed brush lines, true art is defined not by craftsmanship or inspiration, but in communicating the humor, spirit, and practical pleasure in every moment.
Janine Pommy-Vega (who is a real star in the poetry performance post-beatnik world)
Donald Levering of Santa Fe
Duende Poetry Series hosts poetry and jazz event
The sixth year of the Duende Poetry Series of Placitas will begin with a reading on Sunday, January 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the Anasazi Fields Winery. This marks the third year that the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry of Santa Fe has supported this reading series.
Featured readers for this event include Santa Fe poet Donald Levering and upstate New York poet Janine Pommy Vega, who will be accompanied by the Albuquerque jazz band J’Zamm. An accomplished musical group, it includes Judy Green (keyboards), Phil Green (bass), Bonnie Schmader (flute), and Bill Pommy—the poet’s brother (drums).
Pommy Vega published her first book of poetry in 1968 and has issued fourteen more since then, plus four prose works and a few CDs. One of her prose works, Island of the Sun (1991) conveys her experiences of living for a year on an island in Lake Titicaca (Bolivia) with Aymara Indians. Her latest book of poetry, The Green Piano (Black Sparrow/Godine, 2005), is a major work following on her extensive Mad Dogs of Trieste: New and Selected Poems (2000). Since 1987, she has been involved with prison poetry workshops with the Bard College Prison Initiative and founded the Harvest Moon Collective for poetry at a Connecticut state prison, where she teaches. A world traveler, she has given readings in both English and Spanish, and translated poetry from Italian.
Donald Levering, who is currently a human services administrator, also has a varied background, having been a groundskeeper, computer operator, free lance journalist, and a teacher on the Navajo reservation. He has also been the recipient of a fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Published widely in literary journals, his books include The Jack of Spring, Carpool, Mister Ubiquity, The Fast of Thoth, The Kingdom of Ignorance, Outcroppings from Navajoland, Horsetail, and Whose Body, his latest. He holds an MFA degree from Bowling Green State University, where he studied with well-known poet Howard McCord.
For all Duende Poetry Series readings, wine, free snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks are available to the audiences.
The event is free, though we encourage donations for the poets. For more information about the event, contact Jim Fish at the winery at 867-3062 or online at email@example.com.
The next reading will be on Sunday, March 14 at 3:00 p.m., program to be announced.
To get to the winery, turn onto Camino de los Pueblitos from Highway 165, across from the Presbyterian Church, go two stop signs, and then turn left into the parking lot for the winery. From outside Placitas, take I-25 to exit 242, drive six miles to the Old Village, turn left just before the Presbyterian Church, and follow Camino de los Pueblitos through two stop signs to the winery.
“Los Ranchos Idyll, Autumn” Photograph by Bill Tondreau
Placitas Artists Series presents January artists
On Sunday, January 31, The Placitas Artists Series will present the art of Joan Fenicle, Sarah Hartshorne, Mary Sharp-Davis, and Bill Tondreau with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The works will be on display from the first Saturday of January through the first Friday of February.
Born in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Joan Fenicle came to New Mexico in the 1970s and has made her home in Placitas since the late 1990s. After years in the business world, she now works full time in the arts—coordinating the monthly ArtsCrawl events with the Albuquerque galleries, as photo editor for AlbuquerqueARTS magazine, as a member of the women’s art collective Rainbow Artists, and in her Wild About Horses art studio in Placitas. Oil is Fenicle’s medium of preference because it gives her the ability to build up layers of semi-transparent color and add a feeling of light to her landscapes.
Sarah Hartshorne came to painting after pursuing four earlier careers. She began her adult life as a classical cellist. She then developed an early learning Spanish program and taught young children. Later she built a service business which she owned and operated. During that time, Hartshorne returned to school and earned a Master‘s in counseling. She worked in mental health for twelve years before turning to painting. She now works in oils and leans toward large paintings. She is known for her vivid colors and the striking textures of her work. She has had numerous shows in the Albuquerque area over the last few years and has won several awards, including the Madonna Daniel Emerging Artist Award in 2007. She currently shows at MoRo Gallery in Albuquerque.
Mary Sharp-Davis is getting ready to launch an urn series in 2009 for commercial production which will consist of both low fired, painted “green” vessels that will degrade once buried and high fired glazed pieces for home installations. After launch, she will still create her altars and shrines and go wherever her hands and muses take her. Says she “Such a lovely journey this is. There is nothing like the smell, texture, and moistness of clay in one’s hands… It is sumptuous! It is such a sensuous experience. I have been playing with it for years and there is never any end to what it teaches me and boundless avenues one can explore with it.”
Bill Tondreau took up an interest in photography in his childhood. Later he moved into the realm of motion pictures. While continuing in the motion picture industry here in Albuquerque, he has resumed photography, as he is deeply impressed by the beautiful scenery surrounding our local communities. Rather than look for landscape subject matter far from home, he has instead tried to bring a newcomer’s impression of the local terrain to his photographs, partly as a reminder to those who have lived here all their lives that this really is a very magical place. His images are made by seamlessly stitching together dozens of photographs into a single high resolution print that can be minutely explored for the many stories captured within.
A reception for the artists will be held at 2:00 p.m. on January 31, prior to a concert by Willy Sucre and Friends. 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 Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza in Rio Rancho; or online at PlacitasArts.org. Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.
For more information, call 867-8080 or visit PlacitasArts.org.
January 2010 El Rinconcito español
Nadie sabe lo que tiene hasta que lo ve perdido.
Nobody knows the value of what s/he has until it’s lost.
Viejos son los cerros pero todavía enverdecen.
The hills are old, but they still turn green.
Una buena acción es la mejor oración.
A good action is the best prayer.
Submitted by www.sospanyol.com, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.
“Boy Spirit Sensing the Presence of Munch” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two Placitas artists featured at Albuquerque Museum
Susan Gutt, basket maker, and Barry McCormick, figurative artist, have been invited to exhibit at “Albuquerque Now—Winter” at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. This is the second part of an exploration of contemporary art in the metropolitan area. The show runs from January 24 through April 18.
McCormick is also in a group photography show at Matrix Fine Art from January 1 through 30, with an opening reception on January 1 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show, entitled “1 x 15—One Model, Fifteen Photographers,” features fifteen diverse photographers expressing their vision of the same model.
Willy Sucre and Friends play String Trios
On Sunday, January 31, The Placitas Artists Series will present Willy Sucre and Friends in concert. This time, Willy’s friends include violinist Roy Sonne and cellist James Holland.
Mr. Sonne will be traveling here from Pittsburgh where he makes his home. In 1969, Roy Sonne became concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia. He made his professional conducting debut with that orchestra in 1970, followed by appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. During that period, he also concertized widely as violin soloist throughout South and Central America. In 1980, Sonne joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He played in their first violin section until his retirement in 2008, at which time he devoted himself to an ever-increasing number of musical projects and interests, mostly centering on his role as an educator. He maintains a large private teaching studio in his home in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He is on the faculty of the Carnegie Mellon University Preparatory Department. He continues his activities as a Pittsburgh Symphony Ambassador, making frequent visits to many high schools in the Pittsburgh area to do workshops and coaching sessions. As an offshoot of his teaching, Roy started a new business venture, “Violin Excursions,” producing instructional videos for violin students.
James Holland hails from Florida and made his home in the southeastern U.S. for many years. In 1996, he successfully auditioned to become Principal Cellist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and cellist of the Charleston Symphony String Quartet, a position he held until 2007. He recently relocated to the west side of Albuquerque with his wife Megan Holland, and he is the Santa Fe Symphony’s new Assistant Principal Cellist.
The program should include: String Trio in C Minor, Op. 9, No. 3 by Ludwig van Beethoven; Appalachia Waltz College Hornpipe—Two Trios by Mark O’Connor; and Divertimento in E Flat Major K.V. 563 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After the concert, Roy Sonne will conduct a workshop.
The concert is generously sponsored by Tom Ashe and family. Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for January exhibiting visual artists Joan Fenicle, Sarah Hartshorne, Mary Sharp-Davis, and Bill Tondreau.
The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on January 31 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00 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 Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza in Rio Rancho; or online at PlacitasArts.org. 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 childcare 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.