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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Jade Layva

Jade Leyva in her Placitas studio painting Natural Instinct—“A hummingbird feeding her babies, symbolizing the power of the natural instinct of motherhood”
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

Loving Nature

Loving Nature—“She is a child of the earth holding a precious bird with love; this behavior makes her royalty among nature and Earth gives her a flower crown”—painting, by Jade Leyva

Nature's Lullaby

Nature's Lullaby—“A musical tree playing a lullaby to birds, symbolizing the soothing sound of trees in the wind that calms everything around them”—painting, by Jade Leyva

Big Bang

Big Bang,—painting, by Jade Leyva

Signpost featured artist—Jade Leyva

Painting the imagination

—Oli Robbins

It’s no wonder that birds figure prominently in the magical realist paintings of Placitas artist Jade Leyva. To Leyva, birds symbolize freedom and, like a bird, Leyva feels “really free without limitations.” Certainly, Leyva’s creative output and potential seem boundless. Growing up in Mexico City, Leyva was attracted to, and surrounded by, art, though it would take a move to Scottsdale, Arizona for her to realize and hone her artistic strengths.

Art was a permanent fixture in Leyva’s Mexican-American home. Her mother painted often and her step dad—to whom she attributes her ability to draw realistically—was also an artist. Her mother made Leyva’s cultural education a priority and would take her to see ruins, Oaxaca, pyramids, and downtown Mexico City. Leyva’s Aunt Carmen owned a successful art gallery—which carried paintings by such greats as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera—in Mexico City, where Leyva worked from the age of sixteen. The gallery was instrumental in Leyva’s artistic education. Not only would the surrealist and magical realist paintings sold there help shape Leyva’s own artistic philosophy, but the gallery also funded Leyva’s enrollment in various art courses. While working at the gallery, Leyva explains, she was “always doing something on the side that was artistic.” For example, she began creating and selling Oaxacan-inspired wood carvings.

In 2000, Leyva decided to come visit her family in Arizona. She hadn’t intended to make a permanent home in the states, but life had other plans for her. Leyva began working in restaurants and, to supplement her income and satisfy her creative impulses, made hand-crafts for her aunt’s store in Scottsdale.

Leyva’s artistic outpouring was strong and steady, but she didn’t believe it could lead to a career—that is, until she waited on a customer who would profoundly impact the course of her artistic journey. This customer was collector, painter, and restorer Bill Freeman, who Leyva had the pleasure of meeting in 2001. Their mutual appreciation for art and culture inspired many conversations and Leyva and Freeman became quick friends. Leyva eventually visited Freeman’s immense, museum-worthy collection of art and artifacts. “That was my first experience seeing Native American pottery,” Leyva recalls. “That was so new for me. I was used to all of the Mayan art, but I was like ‘what’s this?’ I spent hours looking around and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I found it amazing.” Freeman’s spirit, collection and friendship were fundamental to Leyva’s artistic growth.

Leyva began aiding Freeman in replicating and restoring pots, and became well-versed in restoration and antiquing. She noticed that Freeman, like many of his friends, was able to work as an artist full-time. She said to herself, “I better pay attention.” She began practicing and experimenting with different techniques and materials and, before long, was showing her paintings—most of which were inspired by totem poles—in a gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Freeman’s collection exposed Leyva to various artistic traditions. She found that she was most interested in his assembly of Mayan art, alongside of which, in many ways, she had grown up. Before long, Leyva realized that she was incorporating elements from Mexican culture in her work.

With some coaxing from Freeman, Leyva moved to New Mexico in 2006 and the following year, reached a turning point in her art, wherein everything her mom, stepdad and Freeman taught her, came together. It was also this year that Leyva began working at The Range Cafe with bead-worker Marguerite Houle, with whom Leyva would shortly thereafter share a studio space in Bernalillo. It was in that studio that Leyva’s style grew and matured. She partially attributes this stylistic shift to the many conversations she had with Marguerite at The Range and in the studio. “It was so organic,” says Leyva, “I realized who I was.” Leyva found that her art evolved when she didn’t have to look at anything for inspiration; her ideas grew from within and flowered into artistic forms.

Leyva’s decision to attend ¡Globalquerque! in 2008 proved to be a good one. It was there that she met her current husband, ¡Globalquerque! founder Tom Frouge. Frouge was impressed by Leyva’s style and asked her to create the poster art for the 2009 festival. Honored and inspired, Leyva worked feverishly on a painting that would celebrate the festival’s multi-cultural, musical, all-embracing spirit. She completed the painting, entitled One Song, in two short weeks. Leyva’s ¡Globalquerque! commission led to a radio interview and a major sale at the 2009 event. Many more commissions, sales, and shows flowed from there. 

Leyva grew up reading magical realism, the genre with which she most closely associates as an artist. Says Leyva, “Magical realism seems unreal, but it’s just set in a different way—it’s metaphor; every time I do a painting, there’s a story.” To this day, Leyva turns to poetry for inspiration.

Hoping to encourage people to create, Leyva offers painting workshops. She enjoys experiencing the artistic process with others and does not believe in keeping her ideas and techniques to herself. “I think the more creativity you put out there, the more people become creative from what you’re doing. It’s like you’re done with your mission for the world. Why not share with others?”

Leyva’s work can be viewed in the show El Arte de Tres Amigas: Earth Dreams at Albuquerque’s Boro Gallery until June 30. Next month, from July 1 to August 3, her paintings will be featured at the Placitas Community Library—opening reception July 13.

Leyva can be contacted by emailing or calling 505-771-3166.

c. Diane Orchard

Desert Water, painting, by Diane Orchard

Diane Orchard exhibits paintings

Diane Orchard, Placitas artist, will be the featured artist at the Placitas Community Library in June. Her process involves moving from a private perception of an idea or image and through a visual language of form, line, or color, and sharing her interpretation with the audience. Her original prints are a combination of techniques in a process of layering that includes monotype, etching, collagraph, or collage to create a multidimensional perspective. An artist reception will be held for Diane at the library located on SR 165 on June 8 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

c. Judith Roderick

Roadrunner, mixed media, by Judith Roderick 

Roderick chosen in “The Artist as Quiltmaker”

Judith Roderick of Placitas, New Mexico is one of the 39 artists accepted into The Artist as Quiltmaker XV exhibition in Oberlin, Ohio. Roderick created a quirky ode to the New Mexico state bird, the Roadrunner, by hand-painting on silk with gutta and soy wax techniques, then machine quilting and adding lots of beads.

Winner of the first-place award is Elegant Edibles by Jennifer Day of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In her first-ever quilt, Day combined the traditional concepts of needle painting, embroidery and illustrated botanical prints with 21 century methodology. Betty Busby of Albuquerque was also accepted into the exhibition.

The Artist as Quiltmaker exhibition was founded in 1984 by quilt historian Ricky Clark and is a biennial exhibition held in Oberlin, Ohio on even-numbered years

Corrales Historical Society twentieth annual Old Church Artfest

The Old Church Artfest is one of the most anticipated art events of the year. This year’s line-up of handcrafted creations by favorite local artists includes repurposed drip tape baskets, hand painted and recycled wood bowls and furniture, wire and bead jewelry, retablos, soaps, stoneware pottery, fiber arts, gourds and scone mix, etched glass and fused glass jewelry, watercolors, sculpted clay flutes and masks, tinwork, Hispanic folk art, gourds and Encaustic, flint knapped knives and tools, Raku tile and sculpture and jams and jellies.

The Artfest is held on June 2 and 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Old San Ysidro Church located at 966 Old Church Road across from Casa San Ysidro. The Artfest is sponsored by the Corrales Visual Arts Council. A small percentage of the proceeds from the show go to the Corrales Historical Society for repairs and upkeep of the Old Church. The event is free and open to the public.

Symphonic band plays on

The Rio Rancho Symphonic Band is a concert band now in its seventh year under the direction of John C. Emory and is comprised of 30 to 35 talented wind and percussion musicians from high school age to senior citizen age. The band mixes patriotic music, Broadway show tunes, classical and military marches and sophisticated concert band pieces. The Symphonic Dance Band is a specific instrumentation group of members from the symphonic band and consists of fifteen to seventeen talented brass, saxophone, piano, drums, and bass players.

The two bands will be performing on June 24 at Dance Band at Star Heights Park, 800 Polaris Boulevard from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.; July 22, Symphonic Band at Enchanted Hills Park, 7201 Enchanted Hills Boulevard from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.; August 12, Symphonic Band at Olympus Park, 500 Quantum Road from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. and August 26, Dance Band from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m., Symphonic Band from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., both at Haynes Park, 2006 Grande Boulevard.

For further information, call 891-5015, or e-mail to

Plein Air Painters paint NM

 Linda Heath, chairperson for the seventh Annual 2012 Plein Air Painters of New Mexico Paintout (PAPNM) held in May in the Ruidoso area stated, “Nearly fifty artists from New Mexico and neighboring states will paint a variety of scenes both in Ruidoso and the surrounding areas. The area has Rocky Mountain peaks, valleys, and forests, quaint western towns, historic and adobe buildings and churches, wandering clear streams, a flower farm, mountain lakes, high country hills, vast vistas and private forgotten spaces. The artists with PAPNM will try to capture not only the look of these many locations, but the weather, mood, and emotional resonance that each of the motives evoke.” Juror of awards for the weeklong paintout was Michael Hurd, an established artist in his own right. Juror for the “Quick Draw,” where artists race the clock to complete a drawing or painting within a set period of time, was Lee Rommel an accomplished PAPNM signature member from Santa Fe.

Plein air is a French word translated as “open air” and is defined as painting or drawing done outside in the open air. PAPNM is one of many organizations dedicated to preserving and promoting the tradition of painting outdoors directly from life and is among the largest in the Southwest in addition to advancing plein air painting in the tradition of New Mexico’s renowned early and mid-twentieth century artists.

Work by the artists will be exhibited at the Ruidoso Regional Council for the Arts Gallery in Ruidoso through June 29. 

 Lawrence Welsh

Lawrence Welsh

Michael C. Ford (photo credit: —May Rigler)

Second Duende Poetry Series reading features well-known poets

One of Los Angeles’s most well-known poets, Michael C. Ford, who is on a reading tour of the Southwest, will be the featured poet, along with noted El Paso poet Lawrence Welsh, for the second Duende Poetry Series reading of 2012. The event will be held on Sunday, June 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas.

Ford, who hosts a jazz and poetry radio program that is carried up and down the West Coast, is known for his poetry about jazz, the Hollywood film culture and what has been called “poetry noir,” about crime and punishment, like the famous old black/white films called “film noir.” (He is especially interested in cases about unsolved crimes). His well known poem “Black Dahlia,” about the infamous LA murder case of that name explains what he considers to be the biggest “cop cover-up” in the history of the LAPD. Ford is a teacher, critic, playwright, and recording artist as well as a poet. He has published twenty books of poetry, among them, Emergency Exits (Selected Poems, 1970-1995), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Reading with Ford will be Lawrence Welsh, whose latest book of poetry, Begging for Vultures (2011), published by UNM Press, has already gone into a second printing and been declared a “Notable Book of the Southwest.” It has gained the author national recognition. He has also published seven other books of poetry: Lenny Bruce in El Paso; Rusted Steel and Bordertown Starts; New Shouts at Broken Dreams; Believing in bonfires; Walking backwards to Santa Fe; Skull Highway; and, Carney Takedown. His poetry has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and from 1995-1997, he was a co-editor of the Rio Grande Review. Welsh, a first generation Irish-American from Los Angeles, is an Associate Professor of English at El Paso Community College, and has also taught classes at UCLA, UTEP, and poetry workshops at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility. He has  been Writer-in-Residence at the Border Book Festival in Las Cruces and at the Booker T. Washington School for the Visual & Performing Arts in Dallas, Tx. Previously, he worked as a journalist in Los Angeles, where he won many awards: The Bill Farr Reporting Award; Copley LA Award; Women in Communication Endowment Award, and the Jesse Steensma Award. He also won the Bardsong Celtic Voice Writing Award in poetry.

The Duende Poetry Series sponsors four poetry readings per year, in March, June, September, and one floating date. The September date and program will be announced later this summer. For all Duende readings, wine, free snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks are available to the audience. The event is free, although we encourage donations for the poets (donation jar as you enter). For more information about the event, contact Jim Fish at the winery at, or 867-3062.

To reach the winery, turn onto Camino de los Pueblitos from Highway 165 in the old village of Placitas, across from the Presbyterian Church. Drive past two stop signs and turn left into the winery parking lot. From outside Placitas, take I-25 to Exit 242, drive six miles to Placitas and follow Camino de los Pueblitos through two stop signs to the winery.

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