The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


3SidedWhole participants enjoy  the freedom of radical self-expression

3SidedWhole participants enjoy  the freedom of radical self-expression

3SidedWhole participants enjoy  the freedom of radical self-expression

(Above) 3SidedWhole participants enjoy the freedom of radical self-expression.

3SidedWhole brings Burning Man creativity to Sandoval County

Ty Belknap

3-SidedWhole. There’s the inside, the outside ... and the other side. Get it? Neither do I. Guess to find out I’ll have to spend three days and nights of Time Off this May on the Rio Puerco wash west of Rio Rancho at the 3SidedWhole creativity festival.

A 3SidedWhole spokesman named Dr. Blue tried to explain: “At 3Sided-Whole, people connect in a not necessarily denominational way and send positive energy out to the universe through radical self-expression. We share in drum circles, sacred dance, face painting, artist workshops, and interactive music with fine musicians who play for free.”

Sounds like a sixties, hippy kind of thing. A Signpost reporter was sent to cover the event a couple of years ago but chickened out, suspecting that the punch might have been spiked with hallucinogens.

“We’re in the creativity business,” said Dr. Blue. “Drugs and alcohol are not allowed at the festival. Participants are of all ages, from children to grandparents, and all walks of life, from doctors and lawyers to a homeless guy with a Barbie collection. Magic things happen here. The night is lit up by the theater people and the place looks like the Land of Oz.”

Dr. Blue met his wife, Chance, who does shamanic workshops, at a 3SidedWhole festival three years ago. She said, “One year, seven shamans from all over the hemisphere just showed up at the festival after a thunderstorm and performed a spontaneous two-hour healing ceremony. The festival changes the way that people relate to each other. They come to feel that there is enough creativity to share. It is a gift economy where nothing is vended, everything is shared.”

It sure sounds like a hippy thing.

“It’s more than that,” explained Dr. Blue. “This is a regional Burning Man event. (Burning Man is a creativity festival in the Nevada desert that attracts thirty thousand people every year.) We add to the cultural richness of Sandoval County, fully cooperate with the sheriff’s office, and take safety seriously. Participants must bring camping gear, and food and water, and be prepared to share their creativity with the wind and the rain.”

The eight-acre festival site is at the far end of Northern Boulevard, west of Rio Rancho. A three-sided foundation for a house that was never built forms an amphitheater that overlooks the Rio Puerco watershed and 100 miles of wide open spaces.

Chance said, “This year we hope to set up theme camps according to people’s interests in theater, alternative  energy, music, Barbies, and more. It’s a lot of fun. We have a trailer full of costumes. People leave the festival with a sense of new possibilities, hope, and renewal.”

Dr. Blue, known outside (or on “the other side” of the 3SidedWhole) as Dr. Norm Katz, invites those interested in participating (“There are no observers,” he says) to call 268-5504 or go to for information about the festival, as well as solstice and equinox celebrations, drum circles, and other events that take place on the site throughout the year.

On March 12, the Salt of the Earth Rejubilation at the Harwood Community Arts Center will benefit 3SidedWhole. [See Rejubliate story.]


Movie studio with all the trimmings planned for Rio Rancho

Bill Diven

Picture this idealized image of Hollywood: Movie executives cutting a deal while sipping lattes beside a stream cascading through an open-air mall next to a film studio.

Now drop that same image into the scrub desert that is about to become the new downtown of Rio Rancho and you have the future as envisioned by the founders of Rio Grande Studios. Oh, and don't forget the amphitheater, movie-car museum, New York City back lot, retail shops and studio tours, plus movie production support from old-fashioned catering to digital special effects and wireless connections between movie crews in the field and editors in the studio.

“We decided the studio lent itself to the approach as a destination venue,” said Michael Jacobs, managing partner of Rio Grande Studios. Jacobs, a still photographer with thirty-five years of photographing movie stars and productions to his credit, currently is operating Rio Grande Studios from rented space in Albuquerque.

Rio Rancho city manager Jim Palenick said New Mexico has been successful in attracting movie location shooting to the state. The crew then heads back to California for post-production editing, he added, while Rio Grande Studios would keep those jobs here.

But first there is the matter of lack of infrastructure in the Idalia Road-Unser Boulevard area where Rio Rancho is planning the new city center.

“The city still needs to bring roads and utilities out there,” said Ruby Handler, a former model and bounty hunter who is also Jacob's wife, business partner, and star of Crab Orchard, the first film completed by the duo. The movie is Jacob's first directing effort and features Ed Asner, Judge Reinhold, and Handler in a story of love, loss, and danger linked to the 2001 terrorist attack on New York City.

Late in February, Jacobs was in California working on a distribution deal for the film. At the same time, the studio announced it won a contract for equipment and location support for a History Channel docudrama on mountain man Jedediah Smith scheduled to begin filming in an open area of Rio Rancho that will stand in for the plains of the 1820s.

Also in February, Rio Rancho worked out a 160-acre land swap with the state in the new city center and hired an architectural firm to develop a master plan for the area that includes a sixty-five-hundred-seat multipurpose arena and a new city hall. Groundbreaking for the arena is scheduled for June, although competing arena developers in Albuquerque recently announced a bid to buy the New Mexico Scorpions hockey team, which was to move to Rio Rancho.

Handler said she is hoping the first phase of the studio project—construction of two sound stages and offices at a cost of $13.4 million—will be completed about the time Rio Rancho's new sports arena opens late in 2006. Later additions would include the Hollywood Star Cars museum, housing cars, carts, and cycles Jay Ohrberg created for numerous TV shows and movies like Back to the Future, Terminator 2, and Bonnie and Clyde.

The studio complex could eventually employ three hundred people, Jacobs said.






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