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Stephen Feher

Bike Chain Lady #1, sculpture, by Stephen Feher

Bronze Torso, by Stephen Feher

Casting bronze in the studio

Signpost Featured Artist

Freedom within chains: the sculptures of Stephen Feher

—Oli Robbins

The human form features prominently in Placitas artist Stephen Feher’s current body of work. His mostly-figurative (and mostly female) sculptures appear to be the products of a highly trained and lifelong artist, but they’re actually the results of a man who spent many of his decades working with his mind rather than his hands.

Born in Brazil, Stephen moved to Dallas—which he remembers feeling like a very different country—at the age of 12. After the Air Force, he became a social worker in Taos and then Albuquerque, where he continued his education and transitioned into psychology. He enjoyed treating patients at a private practice until his retirement in 2010. His career proved fulfilling, though he now appreciates the essential physicality of art making. Stephen explains, “I know there was benefit to my previous work, and I could see it, but this work gives me something tangible. It’s a challenge to literally bend something in a different direction than it wants to go.”

When asked if his psychological background impacts his current work, he replied, “You can’t escape yourself. Whatever has formed me in my lifetime certainly goes into everything I do. I consider myself a recovering intellectual. But the aesthetic, you know, I don’t consider aesthetics an intellectual thing. I consider the perception of beauty to be something that involves the whole being—the body, emotions, and mind. And certainly the heart’s involved in psychological work, but the mind is more active.”

Stephen’s transition to art-making happened in 1990 at 36,000 feet, while reading an in-flight magazine that included an image of a stone fountain in the shape of a globe. It was part of an advertisement for a sculpture gallery in Santa Fe, which he promptly visited once back in New Mexico. “It was made from granite and had water coming up through the orifice. I was enchanted with the fountains there, but they were out of my reach financially.”

Just like that, intrigue and interest motivated Stephen to purchase the necessary materials and try his hand at large-scale sculpture. His previous artistic engagements were limited to the designing and building of a couple personal homes, but he found success in this early sculptural experiment. Says Stephen, “Soon I was making fountains similar to those ones I saw in the magazine. It likely would have been less costly to purchase one than to buy all the tools and materials, but then I would only have had that one fountain, and now not only did I have one, but several, and the tools and know-how to make more.”

In 1990 (the same year he built his Placitas home), Stephen enrolled in a six-session continuing education sculpture class at UNM and “just went from there.” Says Stephen, “I’m pretty much a self-taught person—certainly in art. But I had never before even thought about going into any kind of art. I’ve always enjoyed making things, though it really didn’t become apparent until I built a house in the 1970s, in Taos. It’s kind of a self-creation or evolution or something.”

Most of Stephen’s forms are made of metal, from steel slugs to bike chains to copper to coins. Before experimenting with the body as subject, his repertoire included animals and wholly abstract images. He refers to his first human figures as “crude,” shaped as they were from aluminum foil. He began working with copper sheet material, and invested in a 1935 wood lathe to make appropriately-sized mallets to shape the copper. He learned the ins and outs of copper brazing and soon moved on to steel. With a mannequin, he uses concrete to create a solid form within it, from the negative space. Steel slugs were “placed inside the forms and then welded from the reverse side so when the finished piece was removed from the concrete form the welds were invisible.” Due to legal issues, he couldn’t continue obtaining the slugs from a steel company, so he found himself introduced to a newfound material: bike chains. Says Stephen, “I work on the reverse side, so the welds are invisible once the piece comes out of the form.” He’ll use as many chains as will possibly conform to the shape he’s creating, but often has to go down to working with just one or two links—all of which demand hours of cleaning prior to use. Stephen recalls one viewer explaining that the forms “work” because of an inherent Yin-Yang quality. “I suppose the materials and the processes used are Yang,” says Stephen, “and the shapes achieved are Yin.” He began employing spotlights on the forms to create shadows, which Stephen perceives as “another manifestation of Yin energy” due to the lacy textures made visible in shadow. 

Last year was a productive and favorable one for Stephen, who was awarded first and second prize for two works entered in a regional veterans creative arts festival. First prize was assigned to one of his bike chain pieces, which then traveled to the National Veterans Art Festival where it again received first prize in its category.

Stephen lives with his partner, fellow artist Elaine Scott. The duo collaborates often, Elaine working with various materials and mediums including fused and broken glass, acrylic, mosaics, and sand casting. They’ve made many large-scale outdoor sculptures as well as the neighborhood sign introducing Placitas Heights. Stephen and Elaine will be celebrated during the ArtsCrawl, on March 4, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., as featured artists at SE-OC Right Brain Gallery, 3100 Menaul NE, where they will also deliver a short talk about their work. Stephen can be contacted by phone (263-3590) or via email (sfeher@deepinquiry.com). His pieces are also on view at the Corrales Bosque Gallery, and he and Elaine will participate in the upcoming Placitas Studio Tour this May.


Twenty years of text, image, and objects—a presentation by Bonnie Stahlecker

—Julie R. Filatoff

On March 11, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (in the main building), Santa Fe Book Arts Group will present Bonnie Stahlecker, a nationally recognized artist. She will talk about her journey of art-making that began with artist’s books. Over the years, she has explored the nature of books, the different historical structures and materials used, and ancient languages written. She continues to use the skills and knowledge she has accumulated to make books, book-like objects, and wall sculptures. For more information, visit santafebag.org. Admission is free.


Merimee Moffit

Gary Worth Moody with “Red Rage”

Duende Poetry Series presents

On March 20, at 3:00 p.m., Duende Poetry Series will present “Poetry on the First Day of Spring,” featuring poets Merimee Moffit and Gary Worth Moody, performed at Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas. The event is welcome to all. Book signings will take place after the reading.

Merimee Moffitt recently studied poetry with the illustrious Tony Hoagland in his generous class-as-gift to local poets. This may or may not have influenced her technique, but she says she pays more attention to the sentence structures, the verb as fulcrum, and the many-faceted qualities of the craft. She has published one book of poems, Making Little Edens, and she has a book of memoir stories forthcoming from ABQPress called Free Love, Free Fall. She has been a teacher to all ages and levels and currently is working with refugees who need help with English. Her poems have appeared in many Malpais Reviews, along with Adobe Walls, Mas Tequila, other local and national publications. She has lived in Albuquerque since 1981.

Gary Worth Moody has worked as a forest firefighter, a farrier, a cowboy, and a builder. He’s a falconer as well as a poet. His Hazards of Grace and Occoquan were published by Red Mountain Press. Gary is a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe and of the George Mason University. On his work, Denise Low, Kansas poet laureate 2007-2009, states: “This poet ignites words with fire. In reading Occoquan, I enter timeless conflagrations of events. This book is a live ember.”

For all Duende Poetry Series readings, wine, free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are available. The event is free, although contributions to the donation jar are encouraged to pay the poets. For more information, contact Jim Fish at the winery at 867-3062 or email fish@anasazifieldswinery.com. To reach the winery, take I-25 to Placitas Exit #242, drive six miles to the old village of Placitas, then turn onto Camino de los Pueblitos, opposite the Presbyterian Church. After two stop signs, turn left into the winery parking lot.


Art show proceeds help to repair the Old Church—a historic landmark and art and cultural center in Corrales

Corrales Bosque Gallery Benefit Show for the Old San Ysidro Church

—Susan Cahill

On March 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Corrales Bosque Gallery (4685 Corrales Road) will be hosting a reception to benefit for the Old San Ysidro Church. The full Corrales Bosque Gallery Benefit Show opens March 18 and runs through June 14. During the reception, forty percent of sales will go to benefit the preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church.

The Old Church has been the spiritual home and center of community life for over a century. She is the gathering place for music programs, art shows, and speaker series. She plays host to Harvest Festival and Heritage Day. This historic adobe suffered extensive damage in the massive rain and hailstorm of 2013.

Many efforts and contributions have gone into repairing and stabilizing the sacristy portion of the Old Church. Unfortunately, when work began and the old mud covering was removed from the Old Church, serious structural issues came to light, including several large cracks and severe loss of adobe material all around the building. The estimate to repair this newly discovered damage to the Old Church exceeded twenty thousand dollars.

The Corrales Bosque Gallery has generously offered Corrales Historical Society this fundraising event to help defray the significant costs of the storm damage and structural repairs. When you purchase a beautiful piece of art, you’ll be helping to preserve a beautiful part of Corrales history.

You may also donate to the CHS “ROCK” Fund, which stands for “Repair Old Church Kindly.” To make a donation to the preservation of the Old Church, visit the website: www.corraleshistory.org and click on “Donate to ROCK Fund.” Or send a check to: CHS Rock Fund, P.O. Box 1051, Corrales, NM 87048.


Cullan Bryant and Jeri Jorgensen

Three Wild Ponies, painted silk, by Claudia Fluegge

Placitas Artists Series features music and art

A New York pianist, a Colorado violinist, and a New Mexico violist will convene for this month’s Placitas Artists Series concert, “Trios for Piano, Violin, and Viola,” the season’s fourth of five Willy Sucre and Friends concerts. The concert will begin at 3:00 p.m., on March 20, featuring pianist Cullan Bryant, violinist Jeri Jorgensen and, of course, violist Willy Sucre.

On the program are the Trio for Viola and Piano in C minor by Felix Mendelssohn, Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 11 No. 2 in D major by Paul Hindemith, and Trio for Violin, Viola, and Piano in E flat Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms.

The concert is generously sponsored by BJ and Alan Firestone and the Firestone Family Foundation.

Prior to the concert, a 2:00 p.m. visual artists reception will feature the art of Barb Belknap, stained glass and mosaic; Claudia Fluegge, painted silk; Ilena Grayson, acrylic and mixed media; and Karl Hofmann, acrylic painting. Their works, which are for sale, will be on display through March 25.

Barb Belknap majored in animation at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and worked for several animation studios and an ecclesiastical art studio where she learned to make stained glass panels. In 1993, she and her husband Ty became owner-publisher of the Signpost newspaper. In 1997, they founded and published Albuquerque Arts magazine.

Artist Claudia Fluegge says, “My silk work is primarily inspired by the beauty of nature. I have always had a particular love for horses and a passion to paint them. Working with vibrant colors on silk brings a joy to my heart I hope I can share with others.”

Ilena Grayson’s work express the universal themes of light, energy, and evolution through the synthesis of materials and the unconscious.

Karl Hofmann says about his work: “I try to catch the heat, the color, the mystery and the magic of this ever-changing landscape. Step into the painting and experience it. Don’t just observe it.”

The concert and visual artist reception take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert or may be purchased for $20 in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store, now located at 160 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo; or on-line at www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org. Tickets at the door are twenty dollars for general admission and $15 for students with ID. Music students through high school are admitted free with paying adults.

Placitas Artists Series projects are made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, call 867-8080 or visit www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org.


Visionary Arts & Crafts Guild spring show

—Susan Sheridan

The Visionary Arts and Crafts Guild will host their first spring show, featuring Guild members and their arts and crafts on March 12, at the Italian American Club, 1565 Stephanie Road in Rio Rancho. The event is free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Spring Show attendees will be entered into a drawing for a $25 dollar gift certificate to shop with any of the Guild members. Three Guild members will be providing “make it and take it” workshops for a nominal fee—11:00 a.m., making earrings; 12:30 p.m. making one-inch scale basket; and 1:30 p.m., making a pendent. Everyone is invited to stop by for holiday spring and Easter shopping.

For more information about joining the Guild or the spring show, go to: ssheridan4.wix.com/vacgnm or contact Susan Sheridan at ssheridan@q.com or 340-5846.


Open call for entries for The Fence

—Gabriella Marks

American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) New Mexico and United Photo Industries is pleased to announce the open call for entries for the national photography exhibit called The Fence, and associated regional exhibit, The Fence New Mexico.

The Fence 2016 is an annual outdoor photography exhibition series. In its fifth year, and with an annual audience of more than three million visitors, we’re pleased to announce the addition of a five thousand dollar cash prize for the National Jury’s Choice Winner. 

The Fence New Mexico, a regional component of the national exhibit, will be held in Santa Fe at the Railyard Park during the summer 2016. Only New Mexico residents are eligible to apply.

Photographers of all levels are invited to submit work. The deadline for submissions is March 7.

To submit entries go to fence.photoville.com/about.


New art exhibition “From Cubes to Cutouts” opens at the KiMo in March

—Augustine Romero

A new exhibition in the art gallery of the historic KiMo Theatre will open on March 3 with a free public reception for the artists from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

“From Cubes to Cutouts” features the works of two New Mexico artists, Alejandro Moralez and Nacho Jaramillo, whose individual styles mesh well to create a powerful response from viewers.

The exhibition will remain open through April 18.

The KiMo Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) and during most KiMo events.

The Theatre is located at 423 Central Avenue NW. Call 311/711 for up-to-date information on the wide variety of entertainment options offered at this venue or visit www.kimotickets.com.
 
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