An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Rozome by Bunny Bowen
Bunny Bowen in her Placitas studio with recent work, God’s Glory in the Morning

In the Orchard, Ghost Ranch, a batik, made with beeswax and soy wax, by Bunny Bowen

Signpost featured artist of the month
Bunny Bowen innovates in batik, using soybean wax


More than two thousand years ago Asian artists found a way to use wax and dyes to layer complex images on fabric.

But it took Placitas artist Bunny Bowen to bring the art known as batik into the twenty-first century. Three years ago, while seeking a source of traditional beeswax on the Internet, she happened onto a candle maker who had invented a wax made from soybeans.

Curious, she ordered ten pounds.

“To my knowledge, no one else was using it,” Bowen said. “No one had heard of it.”

In her greenhouse studio, she followed the ancient wax-resist method of waxing areas of fabric so color doesn't penetrate when the fabric is immersed in dye. She waxed again and again, working from lighter to darker colors through as many as twenty layers, until landscapes and other images emerged.

Not only did the wax work but its organic source made it more environmentally friendly.

“Soy is not as toxic to work with as petrochemical waxes,” Bowen said. It also washes out with water, while other waxes often require chemical dry cleaning, she added.

Pleased by the results, Bowen wrote a paper on her discovery and presented it in June to the World Batik Conference in Boston. With the word out, organizers of the Kuala Lumpur International Batik Conference invited her to Malaysia, where she delivered her paper again last month.

A New Mexico resident since 1967, Bowen is a portrait and landscape painter by training, with a master's degree in art history from the University of New Mexico. That led to work researching textiles and dyes and coauthoring a book on Spanish textiles as a staff member of the Museum of International Folk Art.

Then, an artist in residence at the Placitas Elementary School, which her children attended, held a free workshop on batik.

“It just clicked because it brought together the painting part of my background and textiles and dyes,” Bowen said. “That was 1980, and this is the longest I've ever worked with one medium.

“I guess it's the one I'm going to keep.”

With traditional batik, cracks develop in the wax which are filled in by the darkest dye when the fabric is immersed for the last time. The dark lines, known as crackling, give batik its special appearance.

Recently Bowen has worked in a Japanese batik form called rozome, in which color is brushed on without crackling. Working mostly on silk, rozome also allows gradations of color rather than solid pigments typical of batik.

The results may be the gentle God's Glory in the Morning, based on morning glories in her garden, or the starkness of a full moon seemingly cradled in the branches of a bare apple tree. The latter image appeared at Ghost Ranch, near Abiquiu, as she sat in the apple orchard after teaching a class in silk painting.

Placitas residents would recognize her batik landscapes showing the rolling and textured foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

Bowen's work hangs in the Jezebel Gallery, off Canyon Road, in Santa Fe, and at Johnson's of Madrid, in that Santa Fe County community. Her images also will grace the Las Placitas Presbyterian Church March 4-31, with an opening reception March 5 at 1:30 p.m., as part of the Placitas Artists Series.

On the Internet, Bowen's batik and rozome can be seen by visiting and clicking on the featured-artist link.

Bassoon quartets open new year

For the first concert of 2006, the Placitas Artists Series presents Willy Sucre and Friends playing bassoon quartets by Francois Devienne, John Steinmetz, Francisco Mignone, Alessandro Rolla, and Allan Stephenson. Joining Willy are violinist Phillip Coonce, cellist Joanna de Keyser, and bassoonist Stefanie Przybylska.

Violinist Phillip Coonce holds degrees from the University of New Mexico and the State University of New York, Stony Brook, as well as a doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Raphael Bronstein. A member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Right as Rain Bluegrass Trio, Coonce has also performed with the New Jersey Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Hudson River Players, and the Martha Graham Ballet, and performed as concert master of the Spoleto Festival, the Hoboken Chamber Orchestra, Opera Ebony, Brooklyn Philharmonic Outreach Concerts, and the New York Grand Opera.

Professsor emerita at the University of New Mexico and familiar “friend” Joanna de Keyser began her professional career by medalling in the Geneva International Competition and has performed throughout the United States, Europe, as well as in Mexico, Ecuador, South Korea, and Placitas, New Mexico.

Julliard graduate Stefanie Przybylska plays principal bassoon with both the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe symphony. She has played chamber music at the Marlboro Music Festival with members of the Julliard, Guarneri, and Emerson string quartets, and has performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and with members of the Beaux Arts Trio.

Preceding the January 15 concert, a reception will introduce January visual artists Roger Evans, L. Heath, John Miller, and Eleanor Modrick.

Sculptor Roger Evans studied architecture at the University of Illinois and saw architecture as sculpture integrated into the landscape. In his folk-art images, he combines sculpture, color, and humor in an attempt to convey his concern for our environment and the animals in it, and for human beings as the guardians of these fragile systems. “Coloring outside the lines,” Evans “reencounters nature with the eyes and soul of a child.”

Trained in classical art at the San Francisco Academy of Art, representational oil painter Linda Heath draws on her travels to Middle Eastern and European capitals to convey her desire to communicate with the ancients through classical still-life painting and to share the beauty of the present through impressionistic landscapes.

Watercolorist and draftsman John Miller combines wet-on-wet and dry-brush techniques in his colorful paintings. His lifelike carvings of birds reflect the same attention to detail evident in his two-dimensional work. John studied at the Meinzinger Art School in Detroit and the Washington School of Art and the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.

New York native Eleanor Modrick lived in Sweden, Mexico, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Colorado, and Minnesota before coming to New Mexico. She studied plein-air painting at the Minnesota River School of Art and applies it to the landscapes of New Mexico. She loves to paint “in the field, generally in early morning or evening, when the light and shadows are most interesting.”

The concert will be held at 3:00 p.m. on January 15; 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 Gatherings, 9821 Montgomery NE, in Albuquerque; or online at Prices are $15 for general admission and $12 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 six miles east of on I-25 Exit 242, on NM 165. For more information, call 867-8080.

Adobe Theater is going Earnestly “Wilde”

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People will be presented Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. from January 6 through 29 at the Adobe Theater.

There are four reasons why this is regarded as Wilde’s best play: 1) It is chock-full of Wildean wit and wordplay; 2) The plot is an intricate puzzle with every piece brilliantly coming together; 3) The characters are not just funny but memorable, including the butler, usually a stock English character; and 4) Unlike some classic plays, which lose luster through familiarity, Earnest can make one fall in love with its wit all over again, and savor every funny line as if hearing it for the first time.

Wilde’s comedies about pretense, snobbery, appearances, and hypocrisy appeal to us today because we still see them with us now, more than a century after this masterpiece was written. In the tradition of the well-made play, everything works out in the end; mysteries are solved, lovers are united, and “the importance of being earnest” is revealed to all.

Leigh-Ann Santillanes directs this production. She says, “Having recently gotten married, I am deeply interested in the dynamic between romance and marriage, between courtship and commitment. Since I disapprove of the model-subservient wife, I look to the strong but funny women in the “screwball comedies” of the 1930s and 1940s for inspiration about how to conduct myself in a relationship. Nowhere, except in Shakespeare and Wilde’s works, are identity and relationships better exposed.”

The outstanding cast of Adobe regulars and newcomers include Barbara Bock, Phil Bock, Julie Gale, Thane Kenny, Steve Pinzone, Rose Provan, Brandon Sciarrotta, and Emily Wiheller. In this delightfully enjoyable and enchanting production, Wilde’s message, “What seems serious is frequently trivial, and vice versa,” rings true.

The Adobe Theater is at 9813 4th Street NW. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors and students. For advance reservations, call 898-9222.

Signpost cartoon, c. Rudi Klimpert

Duende Poetry Series returns to Anasazi Fields winery

The Duende & Friends poetry series will return to Anasazi Fields Winery, in Placitas, on Sunday, January 22, at 3:00 p.m. This fourth reading in the series will feature poets Gary Brower, JB Bryan, Jim Fish, Larry Goodell, Cirrelda Snider, Lisa Gill, Gary Glazner, Bruce Holsapple, and Marilyn Stablein.

Anasazi Fields wines will be available for tasting and purchasing, and soup will be served after the reading, compliments of the winery. Books by the poets will be for sale.

To get to the winery, take I-25 to Exit 242, drive six miles east to the village, turn left at the sign just before the Presbyterian Church, and follow Camino de los Pueblitos through two stop signs to the winery entrance.

The next reading in the Duende Poetry Series, “A Tribute to Angel Gonzalez,” with Tony Mares and Gary Brower, will be on Sunday, March 19, at 3:00 p. m.

For more information, contact Jim Fish, at 867-3062, or Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, at 897-0285 or

Residents consign artist to mosaic neighborhood entry sign

I hope that by now you've all noticed our beautiful Placitas Heights sign. Elaine Scott, who is a resident in our Placitas Heights community, designed the sign and also created the mosaic.

The story of the sign is a story of a diverse community coming together to make something happen. First of all, Charlotte Gonzalez had the idea of putting up a new sign—no, first of all the old sign that Howard Sanderson made thirty or forty years ago fell down and despite some desperate attempts at resuscitation by Rocky Carr, the sign died. Then a couple of years later, Charlotte had the idea of putting up a new sign.

Charlotte relentlessly petitioned each and every one of us in the community until she'd collected enough signatures and promises of financial contribution for us to hold a meeting. We met at Charlotte and Ray's house one hot Sunday afternoon last summer and bandied around some ideas for the sign. We all gravitated to Elaine's suggestion of a mosaic and after some deliberation her design was chosen.

Sue and Larry White kindly allowed us to erect the sign on their land at the turnoff. Marilyn Wilkerson opened a Neighborhood Sign Account at the bank and each family in the Heights was asked to make a $30 contribution. Elaine worked for many many hours on the mosaic and Steve Feher and Raymond Gonzalez dug the footings and put up the cinder-block wall and then helped Elaine ease the mosaic into place. The money came rolling in and in very short time the sign was finished. I think it turned out beautifully.

We're going to have a neighborhood party in January to celebrate our new sign. We were going to use any leftover funds for catering but there isn't any money left, so it will have to be a potluck! I'm proud of our Placitas Heights sign and the way our community came together to get it done.

New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair calls for entries

The forty-fifth New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair is accepting applications from artists and craftspeople residing in New Mexico. The deadline for submissions is January 20, 2006. A complete prospectus can be downloaded at, or call (505) 884-9043. The fair will run from Friday, June 23, through Sunday, June 25, 2006.

The New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair is the only show open exclusively to artists and craftspeople from New Mexico. Over 220 artists vie for prizes totaling more than $4,500 in this juried show. The fair presents established artists as well as emerging artists, and all work displayed is original.

The NMACF office is available to answer questions about how to enter, how to prepare slides, and in what category work should be enteredand is located at 5500 San Mateo NE, Suite 106, Albuquerque.

The fair is held outdoors at EXPO New Mexico State Fairgrounds, at the corner of San Pedro and Central, in Albuquerque.



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