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Katherine Slusher

Katherine Slusher outside the “Lee Miller: Picasso En Privat” exhibition which she curated, in Barcelona, Spain

Lee Miller (USA, 1907—United Kingdom, 1977) took over a thousand photographs of Picasso during the thirty-six years of their friendship. The Lee Miller: Picasso in Private” exhibition shows a selection of more than one hundred of these pictures and also offers a taste of the production of Lee Miller as documentary and advertising photographer, as well as war correspondent.

Featured artist of the month: Katherine Slusher

From high desert solitude

Artists attuned to the magical, fantastic, revolutionary aspects of creation—that element of surprise and enchantment—feel an elemental tug to the European Surrealist movement of the 1930s and ‘40s. Growing up in the desert tableau of Placitas, wrapped in the enchantment of her mother’s private world of art, culture, and high fashion, Katherine Slusher found a natural muse in the Surrealist Lee Miller. The 1930s-era photographer, artist, and free spirit who was close to Man Ray and Pablo Picasso has become a natural forebear to the girl from Placitas herself.

Slusher, an independent curator schooled at Barnard College, University of New Mexico, and Syracuse University, just wrapped up a three-month exhibition at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, where she now lives. “Lee Miller: Picasso in Private,” along with Slusher’s 2007 biography, Lee Miller and Roland Penrose: The Green Memories of Desire, are helping to revive interest in a woman whose influence was long overshadowed by her famous contemporaries.

Just like Slusher’s glamorous mother, Elaine—who still teaches painting in Placitas—Lee Miller began her career as a high-fashion model on the cover of Vogue. That’s how she came to meet Man Ray in 1929, who fell instantly and perilously in love, eventually training her in the art of photography.

Lee Miller’s life had multiple phases, as Slusher writes in the catalog to the exhibition. From surrealistic photographs of Paris under the tutelage of Man Ray, to commercial work in New York, where she opened her own studio in the mid-1930s, to haunting photos of the desert in Egypt, where she moved with her first husband, Miller embodies the Surrealist ethos of embracing the irrational, accidental, and unseen, of peering behind the fabric of the ordered world to tease out forces of the subconscious.

Miller lived an adventurous life according to her own principles, embracing her freedom long before it became a cultural norm, Slusher writes. She socialized with the likes of Andre Breton, Max Ernst, and Paul Eluard—a mostly male group known for treating their women “like poodles,” as Jackson Pollock’s girlfriend Lee Krasner remarked of the European Surrealists—but Miller “was no poodle,” Slusher writes.

Miller’s best-known work was as a photojournalist for Vogue in the 1940s, documenting the effects of the war and liberation. But it is as a confidante and portraitist of Picasso that Slusher has brought Miller’s work to public attention. Thousands of photographs taken over thirty-six years testify to the intense triangular relationship between Miller, Picasso, and the British artist Roland Penrose, with whom she had a love affair and marriage that spanned from 1937 until she died in 1977.

It is here that Slusher’s own life meets art, for she “discovered” her subject initially through a chance encounter with Anthony Penrose, the son and biographer of Roland Penrose. Having written his parents’ story as players in the Surrealist movement, Anthony encouraged Katherine to tell the story of his parents’ symbiotic relationship blooming in the strange creative soil made up of Man Ray, Marx Ernst and Leonora Carrington, Paul and Nusch Eluard, Picasso and Dora Maar.

“What is a mystery in most people’s minds is how an American girl from Poughkeepsie ended up on the cover of Vogue representing the quintessential look and style of 1920s New York,” Slusher writes in the biography, “[and] moved on to take her place at the center of the Surrealist effervescence in Europe, then returned to New York City to open her own successful photographic studio, all before she was twenty-five-years old.”

One might ask the same of the girl from Placitas, who, her mother says, went from UNM to Quito, Ecuador, traveled around South America and ended up in Spain. An interview with the artist Jesus Vilallonga for a school paper eventually led to marriage, and Katherine Slusher found herself ensconced in the European art world. After earning a degree in museum studies from Syracuse, she became a curator, and thereby met Anthony Penrose.

Their collaborative relationship as curators and biographers has sparked a four-year (so far) investigation into the lives of Miller, Picasso, and the Surrealists that may yet lead Slusher to author studies of Man Ray and Max Ernst. Chance encounter—that darling instrument of the Surrealists—bore fruit for the adventurous curator raised in desert solitude with a sophisticated sense of style.

Her mother Elaine takes credit for the latter. “Katherine used to thank me for teaching her good taste,” she winks, “so she knew what to buy” on her travels. Waving off her own accomplishments, Elaine Slusher says she enjoys being active with the New Mexico Watercolor Society, painting retablos and teaching painting, and visiting with Katherine, who comes back to her hometown of Placitas once or twice a year.

Shop Rio

“Shop Rio”—a short story contest

A short story contest for creative writers is underway for the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce (RRRCC)’s “Shop Rio” program.

“Shop Rio,” an initiative to increase public awareness of the importance of shopping locally, was launched in July with a series of educational articles, a July 25 presentation to the Rio Rancho governing body, and brochures. The short story contest for area residents expands the campaign.

Creative writers are encouraged to write a story up to two-hundred-fifty words about the “Shop Rio” character, a lizard who’s a “lively, lovely shopper.” The story should name the character and include an interesting story of its shopping habits, the value of hometown shopping, or what’s inside those shopping bags.

“This character will become a fun way to identify the ‘Shop Rio’ program, which will focus consumers’ attention [on the idea] that where they choose to make purchases has an impact,” said Debbi Moore, President and CEO of the RRRCC. “By shopping locally in your community’s businesses, those tax dollars stay in your town to provide local services.”

Several age categories are open to writers age six and up. Prizes will be given for each age bracket. The deadline for the contest is October 15, 2007. Submissions may be mailed or dropped off at the RRRCC offices at 4001 Southern Blvd. NE, inside the NM Bank and Trust building, or emailed to

For more information on “Shop Rio,” contact Debbi Moore at 892-1533.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Corrales Fine Arts Show benefits Old Church restoration

The 19th Annual Corrales Fine Arts Show, a New Mexico multimedia art exhibition and sale, takes place in Corrales at the historic Old San Ysidro Church from October 6 to 14. Presented will be works of thirty-nine artists in the fields of painting, mixed media, sculpture, and photography, selected by jury from over two hundred entries. The show will be 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 5 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. A portion of each sale at the show will go to the Corrales Historical Society for the restoration and preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church. The church is located one mile north of the Corrales Post Office on Corrales Road, then three-tenths of a mile west on Old Church Road.


sculpture by Armando Alvarez

New sculpture, by Armando Alvarez, stands on five-acre park, in memory of Lauda Medara

Mariposa opens new park, unveils memorial sculpture

Mariposa has announced the completion and official opening of its five-acre recreational park at the Mariposa East Commons town center. In addition to the park, a special sculpture was commissioned and has been dedicated in memory of Lauda Medara, a long-time employee of High Desert Investment Corporation, the developer of Mariposa. Medara was killed in an accident last year.

Well-known painter/sculptor Armando Alvarez said, “My sculpture depicts Lauda riding her bicycle. Depending on the sun’s rays during the day you can see her in the reflection created on the ground, which I think is also in keeping with its home in the park.”

The five-acre park boasts an enjoyable variety of recreational activities, as well as providing a link between what will ultimately become an urban village center and the natural desert environment.

The park’s layout includes spaces for active play, relaxation, and enjoyment that are connected by a pedestrian trail leading to the village center and the new office complex, which was recently opened just to the east of the park.

The field is designed to conserve water by catching natural precipitation and is irrigated by treated wastewater. The amphitheater, which is built into a hillside, will serve as a venue for small concerts, lectures, and performances. It can be used in the evening through electronic connections and path lighting.

The park’s central plaza is framed by two large shade structures and has a water pop-jet fountain in which children can play.

Construction is ongoing on Phase I of Mariposa East, which includes single-family homes, small parks, and ten miles of trails for walking, jogging, and cycling. More than half of Mariposa will be open space, including the twenty-two-hundred acre Mariposa Preserve. For more information on Mariposa, call 823-9360 or visit


Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

“Morning’s at Seven,” an American classic, to open at Adobe

What’s better than three sisters? Try four.

“Morning’s at Seven,” Paul Osborn’s warm domestic comedy, opens October 19 at Albuquerque’s Adobe Theatre for a four-weekend run. Directed by UNM Emeritus Professor of Theatre Brian Hansen, this production brings a strong cast of Albuquerque theatre regulars and new talent to bear on a script that is recognized as an American classic.

Set in the years before World War II changed everything, “Morning’s at Seven” captures both the familiarity and eccentricity of small-town America. With a warm and loving eye, Osborn follows the lives of four sisters of seemingly mature years—all living within walking distance of one another—as they deal with the monumental, yet absurd, challenges of family life complete with family scandals, spoken and unspoken. The critical incident is that the son of one of the sisters is bringing home his fiancée to meet the family for the first time. The fact that he is forty, still lives at home, and has been dating the woman for twelve years give special energy to the occasion.

“With a script this solid and a cast this professional—including three experienced directors—I cannot get away with anything,” says director Hansen, with mock alarm. “We are striving for rock-solid portrayals in which all the wonderful humor arises totally from character. ”

The title, “Morning’s at Seven” is a quote from Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes which ends, “God’s in His Heaven/All’s right with the world.”

“Morning’s at Seven” opens October 19 and plays through November 11 at the Adobe Theatre, 9813 Fourth Street NW in Albuquerque. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $12; senior and student tickets are $10. For reservations, call 898-9222.

Sixth Annual Sun Mountain Gathering returns to Santa Fe

Sun Mountain Gathering, a unique cultural celebration for all ages, returns to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe on Saturday, October 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This event is geared toward families and is free to the public.

Held annually since 2002, Sun Mountain Gathering is an exploration of Southwestern archaeology and celebrates over twelve thousand years of cultural heritage in New Mexico. Native American dancers and musicians will perform throughout the day on spectacular Milner Plaza. The festival also provides visitors many opportunities to learn about archaeology and the ancient technology and traditional arts of Native peoples in the southwest. Visitors can enjoy exhibits on Native foods and crafts, including drum making, flint-knapping, stone axe use, traditional gardening, and a mock archaeology dig, to name just a few. Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn about traditional arts by trying their hand at forming a coiled pot, making rope from yucca, using a pump drill, or making a replica of a stamped silver bracelet.

Another main attraction is the Atlatl Range. The atlatl and dart were the first true and natural weapons system of the human race, invented thousands of years before the bow and arrow and used longer by humans than any other weapon system yet developed. Spear throwing using replicas of prehistoric atlatls will go on continuously throughout the day.

Located on Museum Hill-T, the Museum shares the beautiful Milner Plaza with the Museum of International Folk Art. “Here, Now, and Always,” a major permanent exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, combines the voices of living Native Americans with ancient and contemporary artifacts and interactive multimedia to tell the complex stories of the Southwest. The Buchsbaum Gallery displays works from the region’s pueblos. Five changing galleries present exhibits on subjects ranging from archaeological excavations to contemporary art. In addition, an outdoor sculpture garden offers rotating exhibits of works by Native American sculptors.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and is located on Camino Lejo off of Old Santa Fe Trail. For more information, call (505) 476-1250 or visit The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

“All That Jazz” performs in Placitas

On October 14, the Placitas Artists Series is proud to present “All That Jazz,” a jazz concert featuring the Stu MacAskie Trio with guest vocalist Joanna Morska-Osinska.

One of the top jazz groups working in New Mexico, the Stu MacAskie Trio plays contemporary jazz. This can best be described as an amalgam of the classic jazz tradition, personified by musicians like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and recent developments in pop, jazz, and world music. The Trio, which consists of Stu MacAskie on piano, Michael Glynn on bass and Cal Haines on drums, plays music drawn from the great jazz tradition, but often with a unique and personal slant, along with plenty of new and original material. Joanna Morska-Osinska will sing with the trio for this performance.

The concert is generously sponsored by Claudia Moraga, a Placitas artist.

Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for the October visual artists: Mary E. Carter, Leila Hall, Judith Roderick, and Elaine Slusher.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets 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. The facility is completely accessible, and free child care 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.






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