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Ann Chavez

Artist Ann Chavez outside her Rio Rancho studio

Mesa Sunrise by Ann Chavez

Mesa Sunrise, assemblage (handmade paper, barbed wire, fused glass, distressed wood frame), by Ann Chavez

Chavez draws delight from found objects


Barbed wire seems a most unlikely choice of materials for Ann Chavez, a woman so warm and maternal that her welcome is like being wrapped in hot chocolate. No sooner has she said hello than she is introducing the sculptural friends she has created and posted around her yard in Rio Rancho like children frozen in mid-play.

To her, these figures twisted from wire and embellished with glass, beads, feathers, and cloth are not just merchandise that she sells at Art Gallery 66 and through the Rio Rancho Art Association, but characters with potentialities that have been making themselves known since their first encounter—usually by the side of a road.

“Look, isn’t she lovely?” she exclaims, holding up a discarded beer bottle with a rounded shape. “That’s definitely a woman.” On the kitchen counter stands a crowd of POM juice bottles, awaiting turbans and jewels to fulfill their destiny as goddesses. Under Chavez’s transformative gaze, scrap metal, light bulbs, and old nail polish bottles sprout faces and bodies and souls, so that even a castoff as unlovable as rusty barbed wire stands to have its higher nature revealed.

It was barbed wire, in fact, that first awakened the artistic sensibilities dormant in the wife, mother, and former massage therapist who moved to Albuquerque with her family in 1997. While working as a sales rep at the Tesuque Flea Market, Chavez began noticing how art often consists of assembling familiar materials in new ways. Driving with a friend near Cerrillos one day, they spied a bundle of barbed wire being thrown out and stopped to take a look. Instantly, they got tangled in it.

“People always ask me, ‘Why barbed wire?’” Chavez says with a laugh. “I say I got caught in it!” Literally caught up, the two started noticing faces and figures in the wire. “You could do this,” her friend insisted. And she has been doing it ever since.

A bedroom in her house has been taken over by industrial castoffs, boxes of rusty nails, old magnets, cloth, glass, and beads. She twists barbed wire right on the front walkway to her tidy house in a quiet, older neighborhood of Rio Rancho, exciting the notice of toddlers attending the daycare center across the street.

“The kids let me know I’m on the right track,” Chavez beams, noting that little children have no trouble making out the drawings in wire that often force adults to look twice.

It does take a moment of double-take to truly see the elements in Chavez’s work, the humor and grace in the juxtapositions and, through her eyes, the potential in all things for transformation.

She did not set out to make “recycled” art, she says; rather, she came to art through the creative pleasure in reinventing, a kind of second sight. “People threw it away because they couldn’t appreciate it,” she says of her materials, “and now they can’t throw it away because they do.”

Her hero is the sculptor Alexander Calder, inventor of the mobile, who shared her initials and her concept of art as a form of play. “I say I am not a fine artist, but a fun artist,” she quips, conscious of the distinction people make between formal training in studio art and found-object assemblage.

Yet Chavez herself belongs squarely within a well-established tradition in fine art, one that embraces the spontaneous and accidental and draws inspiration from things just as they are found.

“I don’t dream up an idea and make it,” she says of her projects in barbed wire. “I throw it on the ground and see what it is. If I try to bend wire into something, it’s like it fights back.” ACHA, her artistic partnership with Holly Andreas, represents not only their initials but also, “Always create happy accidents”—an artistic motto for the pair, who met while working at a physical therapy office.

Now they embark on gleeful dumpster-diving expeditions together, when Chavez is not out combing the mesa for discards. She once dragged home a twelve-foot rebar hook, assuring her husband it would turn into “something really cool.”

This orientation toward resurrection and renewal makes sense, when you consider Chavez’s background as a massage therapist. For ten years, she ran an alternative health complex on Whidbey Island in Washington, which might account for a naturally therapeutic presence that seems to call forth the angel and goddess in humans, as well as in light bulbs and beer bottles.

Surprisingly, Chavez describes her childhood as “disastrous” and “brutal”—not at all conducive to creativity. One of six siblings with a devout mother and “macho, mean Mexican father,” she quit college at nineteen and spent the next six years hitchhiking around the country with a friend, working odd jobs.

It took all those years, she says, to recover her true nature as a happy person. Now that her own two children are grown, Chavez is free to indulge her inner child—the “five-year-old” who creates in the spirit of the children across the street.

Wary of labeling herself an artist, she writes in her artist’s statement that she simply aims to create joy—an impulse natural to the healer. “If these pieces bring you smiles, laughter, or delight, then your joyful experience completes mine.”

Goose Girl Glove by Mary Carter

Goose Girl Globe, surrealistic painting, by Mary Carter

Woman Grasping, photograph, by Barry McCormick

Mary E. Carter and Barry McCormick to show at 105 Studios

Albuquerque’s 105 Studios is having an invitational group exhibition called “A Standard Debut.” The show will feature the work of a wide variety of Albuquerque artists, including Placitas surrealist painter Mary E. Carter and photographer Barry McCormick. The opening reception will be on Saturday, May 10 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. There will also be a closing reception on Friday, July 11 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

105 Studios is located at 105 4th Street in Albuquerque, upstairs in the building on the corner of Central and 4th. For more information and appointments, call 244-4188 or 363-3868.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Placitas Artists Series presents Eastern European string quartets

On Sunday, May 25 at 3:00 p.m., Willy Sucre and Friends will perform a program of Eastern European string quartets. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Krzystof Zimowski, Anthony Templeton, and cellist Dana Winograd.

The program should include String Quartet in C Major, Opus 37 by Karol Szymanowski; Fantasie for String Quartet by Karol Kazimierz Kurpinski; and String Quartet in F Major, Opus 96 “American” by Antonin Dvorak.

The concert is generously sponsored by Dianna and John Shomaker.

Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for May exhibiting visual artists Gary W. Priester, Laura Robbins, Jan M. Bennett, and Renée Brainard Gentz.

The concert will take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 1:30 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 or online at 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. Funding for this concert is also provided by Sandoval County Lodger’s Tax. 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.

Wendy Day presents piano recital in June

Placitas pianist Wendy Day will perform an all-Chopin piano program on Saturday, June 14 at 2:00 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. The concert will be held at the Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE in Albuquerque. For further information, call 268-0044.

Corrales Bosque Gallery launches summer show

The Corrales Bosque Gallery will launch its summer show featuring seventeen guest artists on June 6. Every year, the gallery dedicates its summer show to this purpose.

The show is named ART squared (ART2). The date of the opening is Friday, June 6 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., and the show will run through September 2. We are an artist-owned gallery of twenty artists and have been in existence for fourteen years. We are located in the heart of the village of Corrales at 4685 Corrales Road. You can visit the gallery every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is parking in front. For more information, call 898-7203 or visit

On June 15, the Gallery will be jurying for new members. Visit the gallery in person or on our website, call one of the contacts below, or email to get an application and membership information. Artwork to be juried needs to be in our gallery on Saturday, June 14.

Gathering of Artists Guild presents Bernalillo exhibition in early May

On May 2, 3, and 4, the Gathering of Artists Guild will present the “Spring Juried Art Market” at Old Town Shoppes in Bernalillo. Thirty-five exhibitors will present fine art painting, pottery, furniture, glass art, Native American jewelry, beadwork, quillwork, and photography.

Adding to the exhibition will be special guest artist Gerald “New Deer” Nailor, Jr., from Picuris Pueblo.

The Market will open with an artists’ reception on May 2 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., live music will be provided in the courtyard by musicians Tim O’Rourke and Wayne Rohar on Saturday and by Ivan Rane on Sunday.

Market hours are Friday, May 2 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, May 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 4 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Old Town Shoppes are located at 733 S. Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo. For more information, call 771-3567.

Raven by Kate Reightley

Cantankerous Raven, bronze, by Kate Reightley, Corrales Studio Tour

Tenth annual Corrales Studio Tour in early May

The artists of Corrales invite the public into their studios, shops, and galleries the weekend of May 3 and 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Fifty-six Corrales artists will offer paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics, and fiber arts for sale. The public can meet the artists, visit where they work, and learn what inspires them. Art will also be for sale directly from the artists.

A preview gallery representing one piece of work from each artist will be located at Madeleine’s Place, 3824 Corrales Road, from April 27 to May 11.

Last year’s preview exhibition was juried, and the winning entry has become the second in a series of collectors’ posters that will be signed and numbered, available for sale during the tour.

An information tent will be placed at the corner of Meadowlark and Corrales Road on Saturday and Sunday. Staff will be available to offer brochures and directions to artists’ studios, restaurants, and various points of interests in Corrales.

For more information, please call Lori Barrett at 385-8056 or (866) 639-6392 or visit our website at

Corrales Society of Artists readies for May “Art in the Park”

Art in the Park, a series of fine arts and crafts shows and events, sponsored by the Corrales Society of Artists and the Village of Corrales, will be held the third Sunday of every month, beginning May 18 and ending October 19.

This year’s fourth season of shows will feature local and visiting painters, sculptors, photographers, potters, and metalworkers, as well as some of New Mexico’s finest crafts artisans. The Kiwanis Club of Corrales will sponsor a Youth tent where the artists will work with children (at no charge) and teach them the basics of various artistic mediums. Hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at La Entrada Park (northwest corner of Corrales and La Entrada Roads). Parking and admission to the show are free. Live music, food, and art demonstrations, in this cool and shady country location make these events a fun draw to Corrales.

The Corrales Society of Artists is a coalition of local artists dedicated to furthering and exhibiting the talented and skilled artists living in the Corrales area as well as raising awareness of the arts and arts education. They boast over 70 members working in various media ranging from painting to colored pencil, photography to fabric art, and are one of the premier art associations in New Mexico. For more information, visit:



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