David Cramer, digital artist
The Signpost’s featured artist of the month—
Cramer: trades patients for pixels
For psychologist David Cramer, the links are there, revealed during a business trip to Santa Fe three years ago. So, after twenty-eight years of listening to clients and absorbing their troubled lives, he is creating a new life of his own prowling the New Mexico countryside with a digital camera.
When his psychology license expires at the end of the year, it won’t be renewed.
“I had a lot of trepidation about giving up my identity as a psychologist and leaving Austin and friends of twenty years,” Cramer said. “But somewhere down inside of me it felt like the right thing to do.”
First as a part-time resident and now relocated to Placitas, Cramer is establishing himself as an nature photographer. His images range from sweeping landscapes to light playing in sandstone slot canyons to up-close details of cacti seen as large and small prints to a new line of greeting cards.
Cramer already was looking inward, where, despite his own good health, he was reminded of the deaths of his father and grandfather at relatively young ages. “I didn’t want to put off the outdoors until it was too late,” he says.
Then he attended a mental-health conference in Santa Fe called “Creativity and Madness,” where he met Avi Kreichman, a Placitas-based child psychiatrist.
“I’d been coming to New Mexico for twenty years,” Cramer said. “Like all Texans, I flew into Albuquerque and would drive to Santa Fe.
“I didn’t know Placitas was even here.”
Friends at first and partners today, Kreichman provides the deeply researched quotations accompanying Cramer’s greeting cards.
Cramer dates his interest in photography to childhood, the family Kodak, and a Polaroid that produced almost instant photos, even if they faded over time. About five years ago, he decided to get serious about photography as art and profession.
Digital cameras provide instant results, but Cramer said he chose that format mostly to avoid the chemistry of film-based photography. So instead of a darkroom full of chemicals, he works with images transferred from his Nikon D-70 to a laptop or desktop computer.
Smaller images are printed in his studio, while prints up to sixteen by twenty inches are sent through a high-speed Internet connection to a printing service. One example of the latter is “Corrales Autumn,” shot while he was stalking a large flock of crows during a hike in the bosque.
“Then I saw a group of horses grazing and moving, and I just waited,” Cramer said. The result is a single horse framed by sparkling cottonwood leaves and tall grass illuminated from behind.
“I like to photograph from the other side of the sun,” he added. “Photographs, like painted artwork, just look better in New Mexico.”
Cramer joined the annual Placitas Studio Tour, and his work currently hangs in the Rockin’ R Gallery and the Piñon Café in Placitas. His greeting cards can be found at Home on the Range in Bernalillo and Marcy Street Cards Shop in Santa Fe.
While Cramer credits most of his print sales to word of mouth, his work can also be seen in this month’s Featured Artist Gallery.
David Cramer’s studio is open by appointment (771-0236).
Support art at Placitas Elementary
The Placitas Elementary Art in the School Program will host its final flea market of the year on Saturday, September 11 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Homestead Village parking lot in Placitas. The $10 space fee for vendors benefits the Art in the School program. For further information, call Linda at 867-0027.
Time to purchase season tickets and new board member needed for Placitas Artists Series
PAS Board of Directors
This month, the Placitas Artists Series will be starting its eighteenth season of bringing beautiful music to the mountains, highlighting local visual artists, and working with the community as part of our Community Outreach program by bringing art and music to the schools and pueblos in the area.
Those of you who have enjoyed our concerts occasionally or as regular season-ticket holders know that the quality of musicians and artists has been incredible and at the highest professional level. We are truly fortunate to have this type of talent come into Placitas every month. PAS has established a well-earned reputation for providing music of consistently high quality at extremely modest cost. (The Albuquerque Journal has described PAS as “one of the best bargains for quality music in the area.”)
Season tickets are available right now online at PlacitasArts.org or by calling 867-8080. In addition, donations are being solicited at the levels of PAS Friend (under $100), Benefactor ($100 to $299), or Associate ($300 and above). Please consider contributing to keep the music and art coming.
In addition, the PAS board of directors is soliciting applications to join its all-volunteer board for the 2004-2005 season. Board membership is open to all citizens in the area. It is a most rewarding experience and a great way to support your community. Board membership is not only gratifying but a lot of fun. For details and information, please call Gary Libman at 867-8154 or write to Libman@comcasLibman@comcast.nett.net.
Willy Sucre and Friends to play string quartets by Haydn, Grant Still, Dvorák
Member, PAS Board of Directors
The first concert of the Placitas Artists Series 2004-2005 season promises to be another excellent one. On Sunday, September 25, at 3:00 p.m., Willy Sucre, violist of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, will be joined by his friend violinists Martha Caplin and Valerie Turner and cellist Joan Zucker.
The concert, sponsored by the board of directors of the Placitas Artists Series, will feature quartets by Haydn (String Quartet in G Major, op. 76), William Grant Still (Danzas de Panama), and Dvorák (String Quartet in A-flat Major, op. 105).
Willy Sucre has served as conductor and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Canada Symphony Orchestra and the NMSO.
Martha Caplin is active as a soloist and performs with the acclaimed 20th Century Unlimited chamber-music series and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Valerie Turner, who has played in the PAS concert series in the past, has had an extensive career performing with many orchestras and chamber ensembles, including the Manhattan Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the Santa Fe Opera, and others.
Joan Zucker, who has also played in the PAS series many times, is the principal cellist of the NMSO and has performed in many of New Mexico’s finest ensembles, from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Opera to the 20th Century Unlimited.
There will be an artists’ reception at the church before the concert with this month’s featured artists Melissa Moloney, Sheila Richmond, John Miller, and Elizabeth Huffman. Examples of their work may be seen on the Placitas Artists Series web site at www.PlacitasArts.org.
The concert will be held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242).
Tickets will be available at the door one hour before the performance or may be purchased ahead of time at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa, in the Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas (867-3333). Tickets may also be purchased online. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for seniors and students. For additional information and ticket brochures, call 867-8080 or visit the PAS Web site.
The concert and 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.
10th anniversary show at Corrales Bosque Gallery, new members sought
The Corrales Bosque Gallery is celebrating its tenth anniversary with an opening reception for a new show on September 18 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The work of two Placitas artists work will be shown: Lisa Chernoff will present new fused-glass pieces, and Roger Evans will have new sculpture on display.
The Corrales Bosque Gallery is currently accepting applications for membership; forms are available at the gallery daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 4685 Corrales Road, or call Roger Evans at 867-3443 for information. Jurying for membership is September 15.
Benefit concert for dance scholarships
Friends of Dance presents its second annual concert, A Celebration of Community Dance, on September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Rodey Theatre. This one-of-a-kind performance by local dance studios features many dance styles.
Friends of Dance was established in 1988 as an enterprise in community support to raise money for UNM dance scholarships. FOD has become a major force in demonstrating to students, faculty, and administration how a small community organization can reinforce the artistic and academic goals of the youth involved at UNM.
Through FOD’s efforts, public and private support was found to fund the dance theater in UNM’s South Arena and the improvements needed for UNM’s Carlisle Gym dance space to comply with ADA regulations.
All tickets for this benefit concert are $20 and can be purchased at 925-5858, tickets.com, or www.unmtickets.com. For more information, call Donna Jewell at 277-3660.
Placitas, Rio Rancho artists exhibit at 2nd annual digital fine-art show
The Digital Fine Art Society of New Mexico and Epson present "New Mexico Digital 2004," the second annual juried exhibition of digital fine art by New Mexico artists. The show runs from September 2 through October 22 at the South Broadway Cultural Center in Albuquerque, with an opening reception on Friday, September 3, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Attendees may vote for a People's Choice Award at the reception.
The show contains fifty-two works by thirty-four artists from all over New Mexico, including Barry McCormick, from Placitas, and Brad Stoddard and David Thorson, from Rio Rancho.
Jurors are Mel Strawn of Colorado Springs, who is an artist, educator, and writer on fine art and digital imagery, and Paul Miyamoto, an artist and teacher of visual communications at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Digital fine art, printed with archival pigmented ink on canvas or paper, encompasses digital painting and mixed media, digital photography and darkroom, and computer-generated art. The computer allows the artist to mix and manipulate these techniques into exciting new work. Once considered "new media," these creations are quickly becoming mainstream.
The Digital Fine Arts Society of New Mexico celebrated its third anniversary in June. The society held its first meeting in June 2002 with the purpose of gathering together digital fine artists in the state to share ideas and knowledge, to educate, and to promote the advancement of digital fine art. In August 2004, the society counted eighty-five members from twenty-four communities in New Mexico.
For further information, call (505) 764-1743 or visit dfasnm.org/nmdigital2004.htm.
Sculpture by Carol Chavez
LeFrak-Chavez exhibit continues in September at Lasko Gallery
Joanne LeFrak and Carol Chavez will be giving a gallery talk on September 14 at 7 pm.at the Katrina Lasko Gallery in Bernalillo. The complex, controversial, intriguing exhibit runs through October 7.
Joanne LeFrak works in paper, cutting out areas and layering the sheets into constructions.
Joanne says, “I create my work through a process of elimination. The presence of a shadow or multiple sheets creates added dimension and layers. My process of stripping away parts of the image and then relayering explores the chaotic forms found in nature.”
Joanne’s work is comprised of three series, each of which draws from nature and natural circumstance: the marijuana plants (their beauty as opposed to their controversial nature), Poppy Field (also a multilayered symbol from Flanders Fields, and war, to the opium and heroin trade), and the bosque fires of last year.
Carol Chavez works in steel and includes sand as an integral part of her pieces, which are abstract and conceptual.
She says, “Art is the continuous collective dialogue of humanity. Art is a dialogue that transcends time, space, and language. Human beings have always searched for ways to communicate with the cosmic forces of the universe. Art is the spiritual definition of human existence. Art is the connection between the heart and the Earth. The paradoxical beauty of our existence is the illusion of individuality that we maintain within a holistic world experience. Art is the bridge between isolated personal expression and the enlightenment of all of humanity.
“It is my intention as an artist to provide a situation in which the viewer can enjoy the aesthetic beauty and the structural integrity of my work without providing a complete narrative. It is important to redefine the act of art itself through the conscious dialogue of process and the encouragement of viewer participation. The steel structures that I am working with now remain subtle enough to allow the viewer to infuse unique and personal interpretations into the pieces.
“Sand is a sensuous material that runs through our fingers. Sand is a component of the monuments of humanity. Sand is what saves the Earth from falling into the sea.”
The Katrina Lasko Gallery is at 336 North Camino del Pueblo in Bernalilo.For more information, go to katrinalaskogallery.com or call 867-2523.
Writers on the Range:
Watching cowboy movies with Indians
If you want to become fully aware of just how biting Hollywood’s stereotypes can be, I suggest you watch a Western in a roomful of Native Americans.
I did this. I was visiting my friend Stanford Addison, a Northern Arapahoe horse trainer who lives on the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming.
One evening, he decided to watch The Missing. The movie stars Cate Blanchett as a New Mexico pioneer. Her daughter gets kidnapped by an extremely unpleasant Apache shaman and his group of thugs. As she starts the search, Ms. Blanchett discovers the pinafored bodies of her neighbors strewn on the garden path, left by assailants who are in the habit of dipping eagle talons in rattlesnake venom and pressing them into the alabaster necks of their victims. Not long afterward, she finds her lover, dismembered and stuffed into a hide pouch, swinging gently over a campfire. One of Stanford’s nephews appeared in the doorway at this point and asked. "Are the Indians the good guys or the bad guys in this movie?"
His cousin, one of five family members watching in the darkened room, replied, "We’re always the bad guys."
I shifted in my chair, feeling my throat contract with the strangeness of seeing a Western, for the first time, through Native American eyes. I was clearly the only one who was suffering. Everyone else sat, relaxed, in their plastic chairs. Addison, who was paralyzed in a car crash twenty-five years ago, lay unperturbed on his bed, stroking his new pit-bull pup, a silky little female with blue eyes and light brown hair. Her nature ran so counter to the reputation of her breed that Addison had named her Shy.
Just then, on the screen, Cate Blanchett spat, "Indians!" with pure disgust and fear. The Apache shaman blew some dust into the eyes of a white man who started bleeding from his eyeballs, and commenced dying in dusty, noisy agony. I got up, saying it was late and I needed to go.
"You just can’t take it, can you?" Stan laughed.
I said, "You’re right. I can’t."
But a larger lesson lay in store. A few weeks later, one of Stan’s nephews and I decided to go to the movies in Riverton. Riverton is a town that’s had its share of troubles. The white supremacist World Church of the Creator relocated there a couple of years ago. It didn’t take long for it to turn tail and go back to Illinois, but the fact that it moved here, to a town that is located on the Wind River Reservation (although it isn’t legally part of it) says a lot about which race has dealt out the suffering in this country and which race has received it.
When I went to pick up Daniel, his cousin Aaron and uncle JR both said they wanted to go, too. We were running a little late for the chosen movie, The Passion of the Christ. That was fine with me. I wasn’t in the mood to see Jesus get beaten to death in slow motion, and Hidalgo was starting twenty minutes later. Perfect. Any takers? Nope.
By the time we walked in, about fifteen minutes late, any hope of seeing Jesus unbloodied and whole had evaporated. I had been instructed to keep a close eye on JR, because he had gone into a coma after a car accident about twenty years ago. He had come out of it remarkably well, but at forty he was still prone to taking unannounced, lengthy walks through the high desert.
"When he don’t turn around, we call the BIA cops," Stan told me.
JR’s seventy-three-year-old mother, Stella, was more direct. "Watch him," she told me sternly as we left. So I watched JR, and JR watched Jesus get peeled like an onion by the Romans. Riveted, JR didn’t move a muscle.
Eventually, buoyed by sheer gratitude that the end of the movie was near, I relaxed enough to actually watch the crucifixion scene. The cross was hoisted and Jesus delivered the line that clinched the movie: "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." A single tear dropped to the dirt, splashing as perfectly as physics and cinematography would allow.
I was surprised to feel tears in my own eyes. On the way home, my companions talked about how they’d loved the movie. I said how much the crucifixion line had touched me.
"Yeah," said Aaron. "It reminds me of me."
Of Native Americans?
Because of what white people have done to your people?
"Yeah," said Aaron.
"Yeah," echoed Daniel.
"Yeah," said JR.
Lisa Jones is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (hcn.org), where she is writing a biography of Stanford Addison.