Artist Prokos with his stoneware pottery
Smoke shades surface on Prokos stoneware
Michael Prokos grew up surrounded by art and artists and playing in the back rooms of the Field Museum of Natural History.
His father taught ceramics, led a college art department near Chicago, and ran a gallery and school with twelve potter's wheels at home. His mother, an illustrator of biology textbooks, brought him to the museum as she drew bugs and birds from the collection.
So of course, when it came time to choose a career, Prokos became a building contractor.
“I liked working with my hands,” Prokos, forty-one, said. The passion to mold clay remained suppressed, he said, until he saw a magazine article on a New Mexico Pueblo potter.
“The native potter inspired me to start working in ceramics even though I'd always been around it,” he continued. “When we moved out here, I decided to try and see how it went.
“I found out with hard work it's possible to eke out a meager living.”
He also has won awards, including a first place at the 1998 Southwest Arts and Crafts Festival, and displays in shows and galleries as far away as New Orleans.
Starting with Southwestern-style pots, he quickly moved on to other styles and methods, although he still revisits the old forms. He currently is working with rolled clay slabs assembled in forms like Open Mind, a three-foot cross-like object topped by a disc missing a wedge.
After firing to fourteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit, Prokos sandwiched the piece between plywood sheets, which instantly burned.
“There is no glazing, just smoke,” he said. “I don't like to cover up the surface with a thick glaze. It just hides the whole form.”
He makes his own glazes to create textures and colors for some pieces, and on the rare occasion when he names an object, he declines to discuss its meaning.
“I'd rather just let that be its own thing,” he said. “Once you name it, that tells people what you were thinking rather than letting people decide for themselves what it means to them.”
Prokos’s next show of wood-fired stoneware opens with a 4:00 p.m. reception October 9 in the Katrina Lasko Gallery in Bernalillo. It's a two-artist show with photographer Ford Robbins, who will be displaying black-and-white prints.
The show runs through November 4 with Prokos and Ford holding a gallery discussion on October 13 at 7:00 p.m. The gallery at 336 N. Camino del Pueblo is open Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment by calling 867-2523.
Prokos’s work also can be seen on this site in the Featured Artist of the Month and on the PlacitasArtists.com Website. Prokos’s Placitas studio is open by appointment by calling 867-0007.
Fine arts for sale in Corrales
The sixteenth annual Corrales Fine Arts Show, a New Mexico multimedia art exhibition and sale, is being presented from October 1 through 10. The works of thirty-nine artists in the fields of painting, mixed media, sculpture and photography, selected by jury from over two hundred entries, will be on display at the Old San Ysidro Church.
The show is open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, and there is no charge for admission or parking.
An opening reception will be held on Friday, October 1, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The church is one mile north of the Corrales post office on Corrales Road, then three-tenths of a mile west on Old Church Road.
A portion of each sale at the show goes to the Corrales Historical Society for restoration and preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church.
October at Arte Loca
Arte Loca Gallery, at 282 S. Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo, will hold an artists’ reception on Saturday, October 9, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. for Michael Ceschiat, Gene McClain, and Toni Truesdale.
Michael Ceschiat, who lives in Jarales and is on the faculty at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus, will be showing sculpture and Hikidashi fired ceramics. Gene McClain of Placitas will show his modern-day retablos, and Toni Truesdale, a Pecos resident and art instructor, will have large paintings depicting the power of women through the ages.
The show runs from October 9 to November 4. Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and by appointment. Please call 771-8097 for further information.
Bernalillo Arts Trail to include art-car parade, Warhol look-alikes, drummers, dancers
The third annual Bernalillo Art Car Parade is scheduled to roll down Camino del Pueblo at high noon on Saturday, October 2, in conjunction with the Bernalillo Arts Trail. Parade organizers Ben Forgey and Julianna Kirwin expect at least fifteen cars. These are cars that the owner has modified in a highly personal way, perhaps by gluing on unusual and out-of-context items such as plastic gewgaws, pebbles, corks, or computer chips.
There will also be local lowrider cars and some custom cars.
The parade, led by the Lost Tribes of Mardi Gras (samba drummers and dancers from the Albuquerque Samba School) will start at the Julianna Kirwin Studio/Gallery. Giant papier-mâché puppets will be interspersed between art cars and a second drumming and brass ensemble called Samba Fe.
The parade's destination will be the Arte Loca Gallery, at the Zócalo, which will host the annual artist look-alike contest (this year's artist is Andy Warhol). The winner will receive a gift certificate from artists participating in the Arts Trail.
“We want to make this the biggest art car event in the state and the most fun event in the Bernalillo and Placitas area,” says Forgey, who is entering his own car, “Spiney Norman,” a 1986 VW Golf GTI covered with his trademark driftwood to resemble a two-thousand-pound hedgehog.
Phil, the owner of Bernalillo Tire, will be entering his collection of fabulous custom lowriders. A beautiful tile-mosaic car from Albuquerque by artist Erin Magenniss will be a highlight of the parade.
The movies Wild Wheels and Hoppin’ and Scrappin’ can be viewed inside the Zócalo on Saturday and Sunday.
Entanglements Amorosas (with fig leaves) by Barry McCormick
Albuquerque censors impose fig leaves
A nude photographic image has been censored at the City of Albuquerque’s South Broadway Cultural Center; oddly, it is the same image that appeared eleven inches tall on the July cover of abqARTS.
The city has a policy to censor art which they consider offensive, and by their actions one can conclude that nudity falls into this category. Which city official is ultimately in charge of art censorship? And why is nudity patently offensive? We’re all only a layer of clothing away from nudity, and the body is only available in two models. What is the city trying to hide? And from whom?
Instead of removing the artwork, the presumed offending parts have been covered à la Adam and Eve. The original intent of the piece is no longer intact, but the modifications serve to call attention to the inanity of this policy.
But underneath it all, beneath the "figleaf" camouflage appended to the image, there is more than mere nakedness to worry about: censorship, prudery, ignorance, philistinism. All part and parcel of our times, I suppose, where the will of a powerful yet uninformed and ill-educated few is imposed onto public policy.
The study of art has its roots in naked forms. As far back as one chooses to go into the past ages of human creativity, one will be confronted with the naked human figure. Not as a salacious, prurient, or smirking oddity, but in all its power to communicate human hopes and fears and dreams. The human form in its nakedness can and does communicate those aspects of our humanity which are most powerful.
There is no shame in viewing the human form when it is depicted without clothing. Only shame in those who bare their ignorance by forbidding others to view what lies beneath all of our clothed bodies—the truth in our humanity. It is the artist who shows us who we are, fearlessly. If we are not allowed to see ourselves reflected in the naked human form, then we are sadly diminished.
The people of Albuquerque need to talk about this. In a state where so many artists choose to reside, it is important for the topic of censorship in art to be fully explored. No one perspective can or will prevail. But the conversation should begin now.
Last chance to buy, sell at Flea Market
Due to popular demand, the Placitas Flea Market will be extended for another month. The last flea market is set for Saturday, October 9, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the west end of the Merc parking lot. Come out to buy or sell old stuff, new stuff, crafts, and cookies. The $10 vendor fee goes towards funding Placitas Elementary's Art in the School program. For more information, call 867-0027.
October concert in Placitas Michael Heralda’s “Aztec Stories”
PAS Board of Directors
The Placitas Artists Series is presenting a very special and fun concert at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 31. “Aztec Stories” is an intriguing and thought-provoking way to learn about the culture of ancient Mexico. Michael Heralda will present songs and ballads that are true and documented accounts of what is termed the oral tradition, i.e., stories handed down through generation after generation. The concert is sponsored by Lucy Noyes with La Puerta Real Estate.
You will experience the wondrous world of the Mexica/Aztecs in a presentation of ancient poetry, narratives, oral-tradition stories, and ballads. Michael Heralda utilizes many handmade indigenous-styled instruments and allows the audience a chance for interactive improvisational participation. Audience members not only learn about these ancient handmade instruments but play them as well. How can you miss this opportunity?
The concert will be held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). There will be an artists’ reception at the church before the concert. This month’s featured artists are Susan Jordan, Nina Adkins, Bobi Chenhall, and Linda Eichorst.
Susan Jordan’s figurative gourd art includes deer dancers, buffalo dancers, kachinas, and even "gourd tellers." She uses clay over gourds to fashion faces and hands, and she embellishes her figures with deerskin, feathers, and beads of turquoise and other minerals. Don’t miss her very unique designs!
Nina Adkins’s love of color and the Southwest is evident in her paintings.
Bobi Chenhall is an award-winning artist working in pastels, acrylics, oil sticks, and mixed media, with an emphasis on bold color and a strong sense of design. Her aim is to express the inner essence of her subjects and to present the image succinctly.
Linda Eichorst has won first-place awards in color and black-and-white photography, pencil, and oils. She says that she sees colors and shapes she never noticed before and she paints for the sheer joy of painting.
Examples of the artists’ work can be seen on the Placitas Artists Series Web site at www.PlacitasArts.org.
Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the performance, or can be purchased ahead of time at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in the Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas (867-3333). Tickets can also be purchased online. The prices for this concert are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. For additional information and ticket brochures, call 867-8080 or visit the Web site.
This concert and the visual art exhibit are made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. There is handicapped access and free child care for children under six.
Seventy artists to exhibit at November 20-21 Placitas Holiday Sale
The jury process for the twenty-third annual Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale has just been completed. From nearly a hundred artists from all over New Mexico and other states, seventy have been selected to participate in this year’s show. The artwork this year is fresh and exciting, especially from the Placitas artists. Three locations in the village of Placitas will spotlight these fine artists and artisans: the Placitas Elementary School, the Big Tent, and the Anasazi Fields Winery. Mark your calendars for the weekend before Thanksgiving for this fun and festive holiday art event to begin your shopping for unique and handcrafted gifts.