Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

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Mass Happiness c. Meg Leonard

Leonard’s Balloon Fiesta poster theme is “Mass Happiness,” picturing the awe of the crowd during the annual “Splash and Dash” event in which the hot-air balloonists do a touch-and-go on the surface of the Rio Grande.

Meg Leonard chosen 2009 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta artist

—Keiko Ohnuma

Imagine getting a phone call in which a lifetime of efforts finally pays off, and you are asked to appear on “Star Search.” That’s essentially what happened to pastel artist Meg Leonard.

Leonard, who was the Signpost Featured Artist in December 2007, learned from a phone message that her work had been singled out from among thousands of New Mexico landscape artists to design the 2009 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta poster.

“It wasn’t a contest, and I didn’t enter—that’s one of the amazing things about it,” she said, still stunned nearly a year later. The marketing and design firm charged with selecting an artist for Albuquerque’s biggest international event had discovered her through a Google search that turned up three thousand names, Leonard explained. “They just really liked the look of my landscapes. They called me and asked if I was interested.”

It was a gift of providence at the perfect moment, she said, as she had been going through a period of artistic self-doubt. Leonard moved to Placitas in 2004 after three decades of coming to New Mexico every summer, determined to realize her dream of doing art full-time. “But life has a way of taking us down diversionary paths,” she said wistfully, adding that she had been disappointed in the amount of work she had produced.

“I’m just so grateful for this—it’s such a big honor. I’ve been coming here for thirty years, and just because I love this land, I’ve just felt welcomed here. And I feel like this is when I can give back.”

Known for her vibrant, expressionistic pastels, Leonard was asked to apply her fast, fluid style to what has traditionally been a more graphic medium for the Balloon Fiesta’s paid commission. The theme was to be “Mass Happiness,” picturing the awe of the crowd during the annual “Splash and Dash” event in which the hot-air balloonists do a touch-and-go on the surface of the Rio Grande.

“I knew they do that in the morning, so I wanted the whole piece to be about reflections on the water… I thought the balloon as it is being underlit by the gas burners would have all these marvelous colors dancing on the surface of the water, so I wanted to play that up.

“They wanted an image that would show that sense of wonder that the crowd would experience at that moment,” Leonard continued. “If I had the sun just moments before breaking through the crest, you’d still have most of the Sandias in the soft morning light, and only the edge of the balloons would catch the morning glow… So I had to think all this through—it was fun.”

After numerous meetings with the marketing firm and Balloon Fiesta board, she submitted her final 19- x 25-inch pastel painting at the end of January. “They flipped over it,” she reports delightedly—an event she marked with two long-time supporters who flew in for a weekend celebration.

“Meg’s work absolutely captures the light, the reflection, and the colors that are so uniquely New Mexico,” said Kathie Leyendecker, media relations director for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. “She’s very gifted and talented and definitely does the magic and kaleidoscope of wonders that is Balloon Fiesta.”

Leonard’s image will be reproduced in a limited edition of 1,500 serigraphs, printed in two dozen separate silk-screen layers on museum-quality paper; five hundred copies will be signed. She is also scheduled to make public appearances during the weeklong festival in October.

Meg Leonard’s home is also on the Placitas Studio Tour, coming up May 9-10. Check out her work in person or at http://web.mac.com/megleonard.


Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert


Eye-catching artwork on display in Placitas

On Sunday, May 31, The Placitas Artists Series will present the art of Marjie Bassler, Renée Brainard Gentz, Ann Pollard, and Gary W. Priester with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The works will be on display from the first Saturday of May through the first Friday of the following month.

When you look at the art of Marjie Bassler, it’s easy to see that animals are her inspiration and that she brings fun and lightheartedness to people’s lives. She has developed her style by adding humor and bright colors to the animal theme. Her works vary from intricately detailed water media paintings on paper to acrylic on canvas, foregoing the tiny details.

Renée Brainard Gentz does fabric constructions and collages. “I dye and paint all my fabric, working with cotton and silk. The fabric is cut apart and then reassembled by piecing and appliqué techniques. Quilting adds texture and another layer of color to the work.

Ann Pollard works in either an abstract or impressionist style in acrylic and mixed media. Bold color, pattern, and texture are paramount in her work, creating many lush layers of washes, glazes, and impastos which unite to form the spirit of the whole.

Gary W. Priester has been creating 3D hidden and floating image stereograms for more than twelve years and continues to perfect the craft. Producing hundreds of 3D images per year, Priester constantly strives to innovate and to push the bar for hidden and floating image stereograms higher and higher. Priester has become one of a rare group of acknowledged hidden-image 3D stereogram masters. His stereograms are featured monthly in the Signpost to rave reviews.

A reception for the artists will be held at 1:30 p.m. on May 31, prior to a concert by Willy Sucre & Friends. 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; at Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza in Rio Rancho; or online at PlacitasArts.org. 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. 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, call 867-8080 or visit PlacitasArts.org.


Twelfth annual Placitas Studio Tour

Mother’s Day weekend will bring the twelfth annual Placitas Studio Tour (PST), featuring the work of fifty artists and artisans at forty-two sites.

This free, self-guided tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the varied spaces used by painters, printmakers, clay and glass artists, woodworkers, gourd artists, photographers, silk painters and batik artists, basket makers, jewelers, sculptors, and more.

The tour starts at 10:00 a.m. and runs until 5:00 p.m. both days. Most studios will offer refreshments and some plan to give demonstrations. Please visit placitasstudiotour.com for details on the fifty individual artists.

Three of Placitas’s talented artists are in the spotlight this year. Bunny Bowen is the featured artist at the Seventh Biennial Fiber Arts Fiesta with her retrospective “Out of Time: Ten Thousand Days with a Brush.” Painter Meg Leonard was chosen as the 2009 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta poster artist, and sculptor Greg Reiche is the featured artist for the NMSO Vintage Albuquerque event.

To reach to tour, take I-25 to exit 242 and follow the official yellow PST signs to the welcome center, just east of I-25 on Highway 165, where guests may browse preview binders and pick up maps.

For more information, contact Riha Rothberg at (505) 771-1006 or info@placitasstudiotour.com.


Green Man c. DB BowenGreen Man; Rozome on Kimono Silk. This image is an ancient European symbol which “has come to mean for me and others the ideal of humans living in harmony with their environment.”

Bunny Bowen to be featured artist at the Fiber Arts Fiesta

The seventh biennial Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta is pleased to be hosting Dorothy Bunny Bowen, internationally recognized rozome artist, as the 2009 Fiesta Featured Artist. Held at the Manuel Lujan Building at Expo NM May 21–23, the show is dedicated to fiber arts education and to the display of fiber-related artwork.

Ms. Bowen will be on site throughout the Fiesta with her retrospective rozome/batik show, “Out of Time: Ten Thousand Days with a Brush.“

“Since I now have more of my life behind me than ahead, I assembled this show as a retrospective. The earliest piece was done soon after I began learning batik in 1980, and the last was finished in 2009. Yet the theme did not come from any sense of being near the end of a long career. Rather, I was thinking of that space in which we create, a place where time does not contain us, where possibilities are unlimited.”

Bunny began learning batik at Placitas Elementary when artist-in-residence Jeffery Service offered a free workshop. She has since studied with major artists from Japan and Europe, many of whom she met in 2005 as registrar of the World Batik Conference in Boston. Since 2002, she has been experimenting with soy wax resist as a green alternative to paraffin, presenting her research in Boston and Malaysia. She has taught batik, silk painting, and rozome (Japanese batik) at Ghost Ranch since 1996 and continues to offer workshops around the United States, as well as private instruction in her Placitas studio.

This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to view an extraordinary body of work while visiting with an exceptional artist. To learn more about Bowen’s work, the rozome process, and upcoming classes, visit www.db-bowen.com.

The Fiesta will also present two special exhibits: “Flora,” a collection of both vintage and new handmade lace from The Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, California, and The Educational Fiber Arts Exhibit of 2007: “Feel the Fiber.”

Exhibits organized by sixteen co-sponsoring New Mexico fiber arts guilds will include over five hundred pieces. Artists and craftspeople will find unusual treasures and supplies offered by many vendors from near and far. This show is a must-see for all those who enjoy working with and creating textiles, as well as for those who love quilts, lace, beads, hand-painted silk, weavings, and all things fiber.

The biennial Fiesta is the major fundraiser for the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council, Inc., a nonprofit organization. For more information, please visit fiberartsfiesta.org.


Lone Tree c. Roxanne Blatz

One of Roxanne’s images in the Studio Tour, titled “Lone Tree El Morro NM.”

Photography featured in StudioTour

Preston Photography is the work of Roger Preston and Roxanne Bebee Blatz. The two of them have traveled extensively around the United States and around the world. Their photography collection consists of images from the U.S., Canada, Costa Rica, Europe, South Africa, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Many of the images in the collection include imagery from right here in New Mexico. The work features scenic photographs, nature, abstracts, curiosities, and humor. Over the years, Roxanne has favored shooting predominantly with longer lenses, while Roger prefers working chiefly with wide angle lenses. Most of the images in this show are color. Many were initially captured on film; the remaining photos were captured digitally.

Preston Photography is Studio #1 on the Placitas Studio Tour. It is located at 11 Santa Ana Loop in Placitas. The Studio Tour is on Mother‘s Day weekend, May 9 and 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days. For more details about the Placitas Studio Tour, visit placitasstudiotour.com.


Open Range to perform at Loma Colorado Main Library

Open Range, a musical duo featuring Ric Steinke and Linda Hausler, will be in concert at the Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium on May 12 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

“Music that captures the spirit of the West…” is how the music of the award-winning duo has been described. Ric and Linda have been performing together since 1996 and weave a musical blend of tight vocal harmonies and outstanding instrumentation on a mix of tunes, including music from the old western standards, swing tunes of the 1940s, and contemporary western music including their own original compositions.

Ric will work his thirteenth season this year in Yellowstone National Park as a cowboy singer for the chuck wagon cookout and as a driver for the Yellowstone Park stagecoach line. He maintains his teamster skills by working draft horses and giving sleigh rides at the Lone Mountain Guest Ranch in Big Sky, Montana in the winter.


Friends of Coronado State Monument sponsor gourd workshop

A gourd workshop will be sponsored by the Friends of Coronado State Monument on May 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Admission is $20. Participants will receive one buffalo gourd with admission and may make a bird house, bird feeder, mask, folk-art chicken, Southwestern doll, or a creation of their own choosing.

There will be a selection of gourds for additional projects at a nominal price. Other supplies are free. Refreshments will be served. Contact Pat Harris at (505) 822-8572 to reserve your space.

Coronado State Monument is located at 485 Kuaua Road, west of the town of Bernalillo, off I-25 on Highway 550.


Adobe Theater seeks play proposals

The Adobe Theater is seeking proposals from directors for plays or musicals to be produced from January through June 2010. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2009. A play proposal form is available at http://www.adobetheater.org/pdf/proposalform.pdf. For further instructions and information, contact Jane Hoffman, Artistic Committee Chair, at 822-0849 or jhoffman9@comcast.net.

Three copies of the proposal must be accompanied by three copies of the script and three CDs of the music, if appropriate, upon submission.

The Adobe Theater presents ten shows annually, chosen for the season from proposals submitted by directors. New talent is always welcome. The Artistic Committee reviews all submissions made by directors for recommendation to the Board.

When submitting a proposal, please remember that published works have the best chance, but if a director is enthusiastic about an original script, it will be considered. However, unpublished works must be submitted by a committed director.

Directors who wish to work at The Adobe Theater but are unsure what show to propose may request title suggestions from the Artistic Committee.

For more information, contact Taunya Crilly at 620-1534 / taunyalc@gmail.com.


Online scams target local artists

Several of the artists on the PlacitasArtists.com website have reported receiving scam email from a Susan Miles, allegedly a resident of Texas who is moving to South Africa with her husband. The email states that Ms. Miles loves their lovely “artworks” and wants to purchase several or all of them to take to her new home.

The sender offers to send a money order for the art but says she will handle the shipping. After the artist accepts the offer, the sender says there has been a miscommunication, that the artist needs to pay for the shipping and can the artist please return the amount of shipping. The money order is bogus, but in the meantime, the artist may have already sent the money for the shipping.

Here is an email sent by one of the artists who was almost scammed, if it had not been for FedEx’s intervention:

About 10 days ago, I received an email from a Susan Miles in Dallas who said she was “so happy to have found me through the Placitas Artists’ website” and that she wanted to purchase all six of the pieces I had posted on the site.

She said that she and her husband were moving to South Africa and wanted my pieces to furnish their new home. She even promised to send me pictures!

She asked me for a total price, but to exclude shipping as that would be arranged separately by the company that was shipping all of their goods to Johannesburg.

I quoted a price and asked to be paid by money order or cashiers‘ check and in advance. A few days later, I got a separate email from the shipping company. They said that they would arrange for FedEx to pick up and package the pieces and send them to a central location for inclusion with everything else.

Then, I heard nothing from either party for about a week. Last evening, I got an email from Susan Miles, apologizing for the delay. She said the cashiers‘ check had been sent by FedEx and gave me a tracking number. Then she said that there had been a “mis-communication” between her and her husband and that the check included the shipping costs. She asked me to cash the check and then forward the difference to the shipping company to cover shipping.

This morning, after the appointed delivery time, I went to the FedEx website and entered the tracking number. It said that the package/letter was being held at FedEx in Memphis. I called FedEx customer service and they told me that the letter was being held at FedEx’s International Security office in Memphis and gave me that phone number.

FedEx International Security asked me about the transaction and described everything in detail to me, including the “mis-communication” problems that would necessitate me cashing the check and sending the balance to the “shipping company,“ etc. FedEx told me that this was a money laundering scheme that targets people (individuals, small organizations, etc.) selling/advertising on the Internet. These operators buy paper at an office supply store and create phony money orders and even cashiers’ checks! It would take a day or so for my bank to notify me of the fraud, but I would have sent the “real cash” along by then.

I must admit I was a little suspicious. “Susan Miles’s“ grammar and syntax were very odd, as was the “shipping company” (Boundless Shipping) representative. I could not find Boundless Shipping through Google. But, most of all, I think my work is good, but I seriously doubt that anyone is going to buy six pieces at once!


Willy Sucre & Friends to perform

On Sunday, May 31, The Placitas Artists Series will present Willy Sucre and Friends playing string quartets. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Gabriel Gordon and Anthony Templeton, as well as cellist Joan Zucker. The group will perform First String Quartets.

Mr. Gordon is currently a member of the New Mexico Symphony (NMSO), and is in the finals for the Concertmaster position of the Santa Fe Symphony. Mr. Templeton is currently Principal Second Violin of the NMSO, where he has been performing for the last fourteen years. Joan Zucker is Principal Cello at NMSO.

The program should include String Quartet in D Major by Ottorino Respighi; String Quartet No. 1 in B Flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1 “La chasse” by Franz Joseph Haydn; and String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11 “Accordion” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on May 31, 2009 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 1:30. 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; at Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or online at PlacitasArts.org. Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This will be the final concert of the 2008-2009 season. Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for May exhibiting visual artists Marjie Bassler, Renée Brainard Gentz, Ann Pollard, and Gary W. Priester.

The concert is generously sponsored by Drs. John and Dianna Shomaker, Thomas Ashe, Steve Gudelj, and families.

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 more information, call 867-8080.


Roger Evans Rabbit c. Roger Evans

Roger Evans stands next to his art work in his front yard.

A rabbit pulls the world out of his hat in front of Evans's domed home.

Animal sculptor finds humor in creature comforts

—Keiko Ohnuma, Signpost

If Placitas had an art mafia, Roger Evans would be its Godfather, exemplifying the tribe’s fiery utopianism softened by decades of living and working on the mesa. Today he appears, like many Placitas old-timers, to be enjoying the rewards of laboring happily in paradise, surrounded by acolytes and admirers.

Evans came to Placitas in the 1970s, when the hippies and nonconformists started arriving in New Mexico determined to chop wood, haul water, and live genuine lives that didn’t compromise their humanity.

But Evans was no youngster himself. Already forty, he was an architect who had left behind a 3,700-square-foot house he designed for his family in a posh suburb of Chicago. He came because he was intrigued by the movement of young people, “kids dropping out of college, saying, ‘We’re not going to follow this regimented way of getting money,’” he recalls. Evans had always been something of an iconoclast himself. A native of Ithaca, New York, he got a degree in architecture at the University of Illinois in the 1950s and started a job and a family. But he was never content with the status quo. Right from the start, he felt the system didn’t fit.

“I wanted to build what I wanted to build,” he says, still showing the spirited refusal that made his destiny as an artist nearly inevitable. Most architects are hired to build according to certain criteria, he said; but he wanted to build in a way that questioned how people relate to their environment, and thus what life is all about.

The call came when a friend asked him to help realize a dream to build a forty-five-foot boat out of ferrocement (which is not as crazy as it sounds, as boatbuilding was the original use for this now-common building material). The curves and domes natural to ferrocement construction lit a fire under Evans, who was earning a living doing illustrations for other architects.

“This was the very thing I was looking for—a way to deal with free forms in sculpture,” he recalls. “I wanted to combine this material with sculpture that you could live in.” The goal was to translate a more harmonious vision of society into a living space, based on his observation that dwellings compel people to adapt to them. Evans bought twenty-eight acres of land in Placitas, where he had come to visit a friend, and set about building “a sculptural space that no one has ever been in.”

He and his wife still live in the main building of that compound, now a highlight of the annual Placitas Studio Tour for its hobbit-house qualities. The property is even more fantastic now that it is forested with Evans’ monumental sculptures, which pop up like crazed sentinels along the rutted dirt road that snakes to his house below the Tunnel Springs trailhead.

The home as he originally envisioned it would have all the furniture built in, he said, so residents couldn’t bring any possessions except “their plants, animals, books, and music.” Four such dwellings, each smaller than a thousand square feet, would surround a central area with a deep pool (still there) and a shared indoor gathering space. Residents would buy in to the community and share things like a workshop, garden, and animal pens.

“But I don’t want to call it a commune,” Evans notes. “I was not trying to do a commune, but trying to get people to accept these (architectural) premises” just as residential developers always do. “And I didn’t want all artists or all poets, because it would be an environment where you’d have to let go of all these preconceived ideas.”

His plan was never fully realized—for which he half-jokingly blames Ronald Reagan, whose presidency signaled an end to utopianism in America. Personal concerns also stepped in, as Evans had two of his three children living with him, and an ex-wife in Florida with the third. And the architectural drawing work he had brought along with him from Chicago kept him alive, but feeling creatively straitjacketed.

So by 1989, he started experimenting in a new direction, sculpting animal figures out of wood. He would bring them along to sell at craft fairs in Austin, where one daughter lived, and on the East Coast, where he would go to visit his current wife, Sue—“Just to try something different!” he explains.

Naturally, these wooden animals were not the homespun decorations one normally sees at such venues. Artfully carved and painted in what has become his signature style, they caricatured animals in ironic social settings—a “Far Side” cartoon in three dimensions. Like many a fabulist, Evans turned to animals to express human foibles in a way that would bypass assumptions related to race, class, sex, age, and other human markers.

“This was a great thing for me, discovering I could reach people through humor,” he says. He even found buyers attracted to the paintings and dioramas where he made more forceful statements. “I’d made social commentary—and they would sell!” he laughs. Before long, Evans started making his animal sculptures larger than life, combining his knowledge of building materials, engineering, and illustration with the long habit of social commentary.

The seminal piece was “Cow Palace,” which now stands outside his home. Two stalks about ten feet high house cows in their Brussels sprout-like pods—an expression of the frustrated architect within, Evans says. “If I put people in there, they’d say I was crazy,” he notes. “But if it’s for cows, they laugh.” He meant it seriously, though—he even designed a floor plan for the cow condos, which were to be an experiment in “changing our sensibility about vertical.”

These days, many of Evans’ animal sculptures are purely whimsical, but often you will find a social commentary tucked in there, too. His giant box of animal crackers, currently in front of the Corrales Bosque Gallery, is called “Escape of the Endangered Species”—a remark on the fate of animals that end up either boxed in or consumed.

Approaching Evans’ compound along a narrowing dirt road, one meets the odd cement rabbit, mosaic horse, or zoomorphic abstraction in some stage of realization, hinting of more fantastic visions to come. At the bottom of the property is the domed house he shares with Sue and two cats—just seven hundred square feet of living space, plus a two hundred-foot loft for sleeping, tiled in mosaic fantasy and animal sculptures at every turn. Building small was meant to simplify life, he says, but turned out to be complicated in a system designed for consumption and profit.

“Our life is so preconceived that we don’t even know it,” Evans says, shaking his head, still a firebrand in his mid-seventies. It’s no wonder he has served as a mentor and inspiration to dozens of younger Sandoval County artists. Seeing the white-haired Evans determinedly at work on his stalk-legged zoo, one can’t help but marvel at the art of continuing to be a refusenik in the modern era: having the final word, in steel mesh and cement, and having the last laugh about it too.


Padre Martinez

Padre Martínez’ owned the first press in New Mexico, which published early schoolbooks and newspapers.

New Mexico History Library acquires rare book

The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library has obtained one of only six known copies of an 1842 book printed on the first press in New Mexico, that of Padre Antonio José Martínez, one of the leading religious and political leaders of nineteenth-century New Mexico.

The book, Instituciones de Derecho Real de Castilla y de Indias, is a condensed version of a four-volume set of Spanish and Mexican-Indian laws by José Maria Alvarez originally printed in Guatemala in 1818. Like most of the dozen books issued from Martínez’s Taos press, the book measures approximately 4 x 5-1/2 inches. It shows wear from usage and is missing the first nine pages, but the 148-page volume is otherwise in good condition. Other copies of this rare book are at Yale University, the Huntington Library, Brown University, and the Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico; some of them are similarly incomplete.

The book, which can be seen during regular library hours (1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday) and by appointment, will become part of a small display featuring other Martínez material. The Library’s website also features virtual pages of the Cuaderno de Ortografia, the first book printed in New Mexico. (You can view these pages at http://www.palaceofthegovernors.org/library.html.)

Among historians, the Martínez book represents an evolution in printing techniques. Besides revealing improvements in the printing skills of its operator, Jesús María Baca, it represented a production coup under rustic conditions. As one of Martínez’s longest editions, it showed his ambition as a scholar, lawyer, and teacher.

Martínez’s books have long been the subject of legend and speculation. The Library’s acquisition offers scholars a firm foundation for future study.

“The New Mexico History Museum has acquired a very important piece of New Mexicana. This is the only book printed on the Martínez press that the Chávez Library currently owns, although a number of books from the Padre’s personal library are in our collection,” said Tomas Jaehn, librarian of the Chávez Library, which is part of the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors.

The book was purchased in memory of Robert McKinney, the late owner and editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican, with substantial support from the Robert Moody Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Chávez Library’s Robert Frazer Fund. It was acquired in Raton, New Mexico, from a private estate.

In 1834, Josiah Gregg brought what is now known as the Martínez press to New Mexico from Missouri on the Santa Fe Trail. It was a small, foolscap-size press manufactured by Adam Ramage of Philadelphia. In 1844, Padre Martínez purchased it and moved it to Taos.

Born in 1793 in Abiquiu, Antonio José Martínez played leading roles in New Mexico’s Mexican and Territorial periods. He established co-ed schools in the Taos area, and his students later became judges, legislators, and congressional delegates. To aid in their education, he and Jesús María Baca published grammar, mathematics, and law books for Martínez’s schools.

The Martínez press is also significant for having printed New Mexico’s first book and one of its first newspapers (El Payo de Nuevo Mexico), which is also in the Chávez Library. The press saw duty in the Palace of the Governors and also at the Martínez home in Taos. The actual printer of all but one of Martínez’s works was Jesús María Baca, a native of Durango, Mexico.

In 1846, the press was loaned to General Stephen Watts Kearny and was used to print the New Mexico Territory’s first set of laws under the administration of the United States. That bilingual edition is also in the Chávez Library’s collection.

Upon Martínez’s death, his press was sold, and its ultimate fate today remains a mystery.

The Fray Angélico Chavéz History Library is the institutional successor to New Mexico’s oldest library. A research facility open to the public, it preserves rare books, manuscripts, and a vast collection of maps and other historical materials documenting the history of the state, the Southwest, and Meso-America from pre-European contact to the present.

The New Mexico History Museum, opening May 24, is a ninety-six-thousand-square-foot extension of the Palace of the Governors’ campus, including the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and Photo Archives, the Palace Print Shop & Bindery, and the Portal Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The Museum is located at 113 Lincoln Avenue, just north of the Palace at 105 West Palace Avenue on the Santa Fe Plaza. For more information, visit nmhistorymuseum.org or palaceofthegovernors.org.

 

     

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