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Jerry Ballew

Jerry Ballew stands near a treasured saddle—one of many pieces of cowboy paraphernalia he acquired during his lively film career.

Jerry Ballew and Robert Redford

Ballew (left) on the set with director Robert Redford in the filming of A River Runs Through It

Jerry Ballew and Lucielle Ball

“Lucy” Ball and Ballew goofing around during the filming of Mame

Jerry Ballew and John McTiernan

Director John McTiernan (left) with Ballew in the filming of The Hunt for Red October

Behind the lens: the life and career of Jerry Ballew

—Oli Robbins

Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Sean Connery, Marlon Brando—all of these names have become synonymous with talent, great success, and fame. Jerry Ballew may not be a household name like these superstars of Hollywood—with whom he has worked at various points in his career—but Ballew has played an instrumental role in making dozens of critically acclaimed, award-winning films.

When a great painting or sculpture is admired, it is the painter or sculptor who receives the accolades. But when applauding a great film, paying tribute where tribute is due is not so simple. Films are predicated on collaboration, and the collective talents of many different people. So, is film art? Says Ballew, “I speculated about this idea of is film art in the first place, and I would have to say that, just like with a novel or a great play, it can be. You have all these creative endeavors coming together... You go out and film and you make the pieces of the puzzle, but post-production is where a lot of the film is made. Once you have the pieces in a collaborative art, and if all the pieces work, then suddenly we call it art.”

Ballew spent much of his career working as a first assistant director, but as a youth, he wanted to be an actor or, more specifically, Laurence Olivier. Ballew was born in Santa Fe and spent much of his childhood in Tesuque. During his formative years, his family felt the effects of a big financial recession sweeping America. His father was an automobile dealer who eventually lost his dealership and moved the family to Albuquerque. Before moving, Ballew had wanted to try his hand at acting, but held back due to peer pressure to be something else. Says Ballew, “I had always wanted to act... but I wouldn’t do it because I was a cowboy and my peer pressure was too strong—I just couldn’t do it.” Once in Albuquerque at Highland High School—the city’s only college prep school at the time—Ballew took up acting, and turned out to be quite good at it. Eddie Snap, a director at UNM, was impressed by Ballew’s performance in a play at Highland, and recruited him to play a lead role in a show at UNM. Ballew’s acting teacher at Highland played a pivotal role in his development as an actor, not only offering him support and encouragement, but also getting him a screen test at 20th Century Fox and a scholarship at Goodman Theater in Chicago.

After years of schooling and auditions, Ballew realized that his acting career wasn’t progressing. He was working as a substitute teacher in Los Angeles while trying to further his career as an actor, and decided that it was time to get a job. Soon after, he started the Directors Guild of America training program, and learned that directing and producing suited his personality better than acting. Says Ballew, “I realized that I didn’t really fit in with the lifestyle (of acting). I just didn’t feel comfortable being in the fast lane. I was a country boy.”

Ballew’s decision to leave acting for directing—in which he holds a Masters degree—proved to be a good one. He worked as first assistant director or in production management on such films as A River Runs Through It, Down Periscope, Don Juan DeMarco, The Thing Called Love, City Slickers and The Hunt for Red October. Ballew says that working in the production department concerns getting the film made, physically. “It’s more like being a stage manager in the theater—dealing with logistics, running everything. The voice that’s heard on set is that of the first assistant director.” Ballew feels that he could have been a successful director as well but, “strangely enough, did not have a desire to direct.” He is a self-proclaimed right-brained person, who “ended up in a left-brained job.” Still, his creativity and artistic impulses were fundamental in his career. Says Ballew, “You get creative thinking about how, for example, you can make the background come alive. There’s a lot that goes on that you have to manipulate, in addition to which are all the daily calls.”

Ballew has worked closely with many Hollywood greats throughout his career, but a few stood out to him for reasons other than fame and fortune. He was impressed, for example, by Robert Redford’s candor and sincerity. Having worked with Redford on such films as A River Runs Through It and The Great Waldo Pepper, Ballew found Redford to be “a man of impeccable behavior and discretion, just a class guy.” Marlon Brando’s attentiveness toward others was also memorable for Ballew. Working alongside him on Don Juan DeMarco, starring both Brando and Johnny Depp, Ballew noticed that Brando was “totally other-directed—a true observer of people and genuinely interested in people.”

New Mexico has been home for Ballew for most of his life. Since jobs took him to various filming locations, he didn’t need to maintain a permanent home in Los Angeles. His career enabled him to live the rural life he desired, while going on location as needed. In addition to a farm in Taos, where Ballew and his family lived for thirty years, he has lived in Boulder Creek, CA and Lake Sherwood, CA. Says Ballew, “I just kept moving further and further until I got back home.” He’s been retired for twelve years, and has called Placitas home for the past six.

Films can be a lot of things—entertaining, moving, inspirational, beautiful. Some people consider filmmaking an art, others consider it a craft, and still others regard it as a skill. But there is no disputing the fact that films can have all the qualities of an artistic masterpiece, and when they do, it is because many people, with varying ideas and abilities, came together to make something whole. For over forty years, Ballew poured his drive, training and vision into dozens of projects which, now finished, can be called films—or even art, if they strike that certain chord within the viewer.

First Duende poetry reading: March 18

Three Albuquerque poets will be featured at the first 2012 reading in the Duende Poetry Series of Placitas, now in its eighth year: Deborah Coy, Carol Moscrip and Rich Boucher. As usual, the event will be held at the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, the series’ home base, and, as usual, at 3:00 p.m. on a Sunday (March 18). The event will also recognize the recently established (2011) Beatlick Press of Albuquerque as two of the readers are involved with that founding, Coy and Moscrip. Boucher is one of the most well-known performance poets in the Albuquerque area.

Deborah Coy, a Beatlick Press editor, recently published a book of poems, Beyond the End of the Road, and her work has also appeared in many poetry publications over the years. She is a retired school librarian, who enjoys writing for children and dabbling in the visual arts.

Carol Moscrip has lived in Albuquerque for more than thirty years and has been active in the local poetry scene. A graduate of Stanford University with an MA from UCSB, she has taught at the high school and university levels and is the author of four chapbooks and a forthcoming book of poetry, Straw. Most recently, Moscrip’s poems have appeared in journals such as Adobe Walls, Beatlick Art & Poetry Newsletter, and the Malpais Review, as well as anthologies The Spirit that wants me; The Harwood Anthology, and The Fixed & Free Anthology.

Pamela Adams Hirst, the founder of Beatlick Press, along with Deborah and Carol, will give a short introduction about the new press.

Performance poet Rich Boucher is a past member of five national poetry slam teams, from Worchester, MA, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, DE, and Albuquerque. He has published four chapbooks and for seven years he hosted an open reading in Newark, DE. Since moving to Albuquerque in 2008, Rich has performed steadily in the city’s poetry venues and he is a contributor/editor at His poetry has appeared in Adobe Walls; Fickle, Grey Sparrow Journal, HyperText, The Rag, Malpais Review, Clutching at straws, Shot Glass Journal, Missive, Sparkbright, Mas Tequila Review, Yellow Ham, Borderline & The Legendary. In January 2012, Rich appeared on an album—Dylan: Philadelphia pays tribute to a Legend—which features various Philadelphia artists performing covers of Bob Dylan songs to benefit Amnesty International and the End Hunger Network. Rich’s contribution to the album was a spoken-word rendition of Dylan’s “My back pages.” You can hear some of Rich’s poems at 

The Duende Poetry Series sponsors four poetry readings per year, in March, June, September, and one floating date. The next reading will be in June, 2012, date TBA. For all Duende readings wine, free snacks, and nonalcoholic drinks are available to the audience. The event is free, though we encourage donations for the poets (donation jar as you enter). For more information about the event, contact Jim Fish at the winery at fish@anasazifields or (505) 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.

David Cramer

Photographer David Cramer in 2009

Placitas Artists Series features David Cramer

—Shirley C. Ericson, Placitas Artists Series

On Sunday, March 25, as part of its Silver Anniversary Season, the Placitas Artists Series will present the Second Annual David Cramer Photography Memorial Retrospective with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m. The works will be on display from March 3 to March 31. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales will go to the Placitas Artists Series Endowment, David Cramer Memorial Fund.

David Cramer was one of New Mexico’s finest nature photographers before his sudden death in March, 2010, at age 58. He was known for his remarkable images of the wild—especially the wild horses near his home in Placitas. David had been a psychologist for most of his life until he found a new home with his life partner, psychiatrist Avi Kriechman in 2001. David quickly evolved into a visionary photographer and teacher, winning multiple awards for his wildlife photography, including top honors in the international photography contest “All Things Horses” at the Center for Fine Arts Photography and at the Bosque del Apache “Festival of the Cranes.”

David was a proud member of the Board of Directors of the Placitas Artists Series, and Avi is delighted to offer David’s work in support of the Series’ Endowment Fund.

A reception for the artists will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, prior to a concert by Willy Sucre & Friends Playing Piano Quartets. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas, Ah!Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho, or on-line at Prices are $20 in advance. At-the-door prices are General Admission: $20 and Students: $15.

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. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242.) For more information, visit call 867-8080 or visit:

Script Frenzy: stop watching and start writing

—Kathy Kitts

Script Frenzy is a maverick approach to scriptwriting. In April, more than 40,000 participants worldwide will attempt to tackle one hundred pages of original material in just thirty days. The tight deadline prevents writers from getting bogged down and encourages everyone to bash out screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, or graphic novels.

There is no fee to participate in Script Frenzy, nor are there any valuable prizes awarded.

In order to “win” at Script Frenzy, participants need only sign up and complete the goal of writing one hundred pages in April. In return for their efforts, Script Frenzy winners are rewarded with a Script Frenzy Winner’s Certificate, web icon, and eternal bragging rights.

Here in Placitas, the local Municipal Liaison Kathy Kitts will be hosting a Kick-off party and several write-ins at the Placitas Community Library. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience. All screenwriters are welcome regardless of experience.

The local Kick-off Party will be at the Placitas Community Library on Sunday, March 25 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. All attendees are asked to bring a non-alcoholic drink or snack to share. For those who wish to plan out their screenplays, activities at the party will include making play covers from recycled magazines, writing tips, formatting techniques and a demonstration of playwriting software. For those who want more information or to meet other first timers, there will be informational packets and more seasoned writers available for mentoring.

To hear more about Script Frenzy, or to talk to participants from the Albuquerque Script Frenzy chapter, contact the Municipal Liaison, Kathy Kitts at or visit the website at

Placitas artists showcased at 516

“New Mexico Showcase” is a juried exhibition of eighty New Mexico established and emerging artists, in celebration of the fifth anniversary of 516 Arts. The guest juror, Peter Frank, is an acclaimed curator and art critic based in Los Angeles.

The work of three Placitas artists is currently being featured: A mixed media piece by Jennifer Vasher, entitled, Abraham 1 (Hostility/Hospitality,); a digital ink print on rag paper, by Margi Weir, entitled, Of the Garden; and a mixed-media mosaic, by Laura Robbins, entitled, Placitas Water Meter Mandala. The show will run through April 28 at the 516 Arts, a gallery at 516 Central Avenue SW, in downtown Albuquerque.

Pastel Society of New Mexico promotes art appreciation of soft pastel

The Pastel Society of New Mexico (PSNM) is a nonprofit arts organization formed in 1989 by a small group of artists seeking to promote the appreciation of the soft pastel medium as well as to contribute to the growing arts community in New Mexico. Although PSNM is based in New Mexico, its membership now includes artists from more than half the states in the nation. PSNM is one of the four sponsors of the annual juried MasterWorks of New Mexico multimedia exhibition and offers frequent workshops with local and national artists. There are scholarships available for student artists, and PSNM maintains an extensive lending library of art books and videos for members.

The Pastel Society’s exhibit will hang at the Unitarian Church located at the SW intersection of Comanche and Carlisle through April 7 and will feature 24 artists with a total of 44 paintings. Techniques vary from artist to artist but all paintings will have at least eighty-percent soft pastel as a medium.

Willy Sucre and Friends play piano quartets

On March 25, the Placitas Artists Series will present Willy Sucre and Friends playing piano quartets with Krzysztof Zimowski—violin; Willy Sucre—viola; James Holland—cello; and Deborah Wagner—piano.

The program could contain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, K 478, Frank Bridge’s “Fantasy” for violin, viola, cello, and piano in F sharp minor, and Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op. 47.

Violinist Krzysztof Zimowski was the Concertmaster and featured soloist of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade. Born in Wroclaw, Poland, he began his musical studies at the age of six. In 1977, Zimowski received his Master’s Degree with Honors from the Academy of Music in Wroclaw. Having been Concertmaster of the State Opera Orchestra in Wroclaw, Zimowski joined the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981. In 1985, he was appointed Concertmaster of this orchestra, which toured Europe, South America, and the U. S. He moved to New Mexico in 1986 to help form the Helios String Quartet, the ensemble-in-residence of Placitas Artists Series from 1987 until 1997.

Cellist James Holland began cello studies at the age of nine in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Alabama and a Master of Music Degree from the Eastman School of Music. In 1996, he successfully auditioned to become Principal Cellist for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and cellist for the Charleston Symphony String Quartet, a position he held until 2007.

Pianist Deborah Wagner is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. She completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Piano Performance at Arizona State University. Dr. Wagner has earned degrees from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Northwestern University. Since moving to Santa Fe in 2006, she has performed with Santa Fe New Music, the Santa Fe Symphony, and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. In addition to teaching and playing, she regularly works with singers and instrumentalists in the Santa Fe area and has toured with soloists and choirs throughout the country.

The concert is generously sponsored by Joan Jander and Simon Shima. For a more complete description of the concert and the musicians, go to:

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas, Ah!Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho, or on-line at Prices are $20 in advance. At-the-door prices are General Admission: $20 and Students: $15.

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 further information, call 867-8080.

c. Lynda Burch

“Pond Reflections,” watermedia, by Lynda Burch

Placitas Library features artist Lynda Burch

Lynda Burch, of Albuquerque, will be the featured artist for March at the Placitas Community Library. Her mediums are watercolor, acrylic, and collage. Lynda has been painting full-time for the last fifteen years and is currently represented by Amapola Gallery in Old Town, in the Gift Shop at the Albuquerque Museum and has exhibited in juried shows throughout the United States, China, and Korea.

The native of Texas is fond of experimental techniques in her art and has used postage stamps and maps in some of her Southwestern Series. Her art is contemporary with a Southwest twist. Burch says, “I like to let the paints move and flow into unexpected patterns; the result is one of discovery and freedom.”

She is a Signature Member of the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media, International Society of Experimental Artists, International Society of Acrylic Painters, and New Mexico Watercolor Society.

The staff of the Placitas Community Library invite you to meet this accomplished artist at her artist’s reception on March 9, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Library. To view her work, visit

Applications sought for Art Commission

The city of Rio Rancho is seeking applicants from City Council District 3 and 5 to fill vacancies on the city’s Arts Commission. Each applicant must have knowledge and experience in an art-related discipline. The Art Commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Rio Rancho Governing Body and works to enhance and promote the arts within the city.

Individuals interested in applying and serving as a volunteer must submit an application form and resume to the Office of the City Clerk by 5:00 p.m. on March 2.

Applications can be obtained by visiting the clerk’s office inside Rio Rancho City Hall, 3200 Civic Center Circle or by visiting the city’s website: For additional information contact 891-5004.

Meadowlark Open Studio group paints, draws together

On March 3 through March 30, during open library hours in the Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium, the library will present an exhibit of works created by member of the Open Studio artists group including oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings.

The Open Studio group was formed about 1980 when local artists began gathering regularly at Haynes Park to create works of art together. After the Meadowlark Senior Center opened, they moved the location of the meetings there and met weekly. None of the original members are left but the tradition continues. Interested members of the Senior Center meet for two hours each Tuesday in what is known as the Open Studio to paint or draw. It provides the opportunity for experienced, as well as beginning, artists to be creative and build friendships while sharing information on art techniques.

Library hours for viewing are Monday to Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (when no other program is taking place in the auditorium). The library is located at 755 Loma Colorado Drive NE, Rio Rancho. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
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