It’s Beginning to SOUND a lot like Christmas…

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The Exploratory Art Studio was the scene of a lovely Christmas concert yesterday afternoon. Bryan Christiansen played a whole array of holiday music on his trombone and the sound was just right for a December day—strong and lively and celebratory. I’m still humming “Jingle Bells”  and “Oh Christmas Tree.”

Turns out Bryan is a talented musician who has been playing the trombone for eleven years, ever since junior high. In fact he continues to take lessons with a friend who plays with the Philharmonic. I hope our musical friend Bryan will offer more concerts; I think every holiday would be a little more special with his tunes.

When I went over to talk to Bryan this morning he was drawing, another of his favorite pastimes. He was drawing Charlie the Cat today; Charlie was his cat when he was at UNM, a pretty gray tabby. He said he has also drawn the Brooklyn Bridge which his mom likes so well she had it framed for their home.

So this most excellent of trombonists is also studying computers at Life Roots. He enjoys Scrabble, working with sentence structure on his ipad and, of course, games.

Bryan is here at the Exploratory Arts Studio two days a week. He spends about half of his days drawing and the other half with music. He loves it when Robyn plays the piano.

Bryan lives with his parents and has one sister who is in law school in Vermont. He said he spends a lot of time on his music at home too, but he also likes TV, particularly the comedy and travel channels.

I am always on the lookout for fellow Scandinavians so I was happy to find out Bryan is Danish (also Irish and Bulgarian). We Scandinavians have to stick together because there aren’t so many of us here in New Mexico.

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Bryan and Mom.

Bryan and Mom.

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Charlie the Cat

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SHOWCASE AT NORTH FOURTH

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DIANA AND BRANDON PERFORMING IN A MEDLEY BY GUITAR CLASS.

 

Class Trimester ends…that means it is SHOWCASE TIME when the North Fourth performing artists strut, dance, act and sing their stuff! The visual artists share their work here at the Center with each other and the public every day on our colorful walls and hallways. However the wild and wonderfully innovative performers have to put on a show to get our attention.

THE OFFICIAL WELCOMING COMMITTEE OF TAMARA, MEGAN & SIN-NAE.

THE OFFICIAL WELCOMING COMMITTEE OF TAMARA, MEGAN & SIN-NAE.

EMCEES JOSH AND SEBASTIAN.

EMCEES JOSH AND SEBASTIAN. THESE TWO ARE A WHOLE SHOW IN THEMSELVES.

TIFFANY AND DIEGO AND THEIR MOST EXCELLENT GUITAR PLAYING.

TIFFANY AND DIEGO AND THEIR MOST EXCELLENT GUITAR PLAYING.

JEROME AND MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC.

JEROME AND MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC.

CASSIE'S A WILD AND WONDERFUL CLOWN TONIGHT.

CASSIE’S A WILD AND WONDERFUL CLOWN TONIGHT.

HIP HOP'S VERY POPULAR AT N4.

HIP HOP’S VERY POPULAR AT N4.

TIFFANY'S A LADY OF MANY TALENTS TONIGHT.

TIFFANY’S A LADY OF MANY TALENTS TONIGHT.

THIS THIS CLOWNING INTERMISSION IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE FAMOUS...SARAH.

THIS THIS CLOWNING INTERMISSION IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE FAMOUS…SARAH.

FLAMENCO CLASS IS A NEW ADDITION TO THE N4 DANCE SCENE.

FLAMENCO CLASS IS A NEW ADDITION TO THE N4 DANCE SCENE.

AND ALONG COMES ADVANCED HIP HOP.

AND ALONG COMES ADVANCED HIP HOP.

THE ARTISTS SAID THE NEXT DAY: “I like to be out there in front of people with the clapping.” “Singing is the  most fun of all of the things we do.” “It’s fun pretending different things.” “Clowning is the most fun because it’s funny.” “In flamenco you get to move in and different way and you feel pretty and smart.”

ISAIAH & ROSIE, TWO OF THE MEMBERS OF THE TRIO FROM SONGWRITING CLASS."

ROSIE & ISAIAH, TWO OF THE MEMBERS OF THE TRIO FROM SONGWRITING CLASS.”

BUT WHAT WOULD ANY SONGWRITING CLASS BE WITHOUT THEO.

BUT WHAT WOULD ANY SONGWRITING CLASS BE WITHOUT THEO.

GRACE & CINDY, YOU CAN JUST NEVER HAVE TOO MANY CLOWNS.

GRACE & CINDY, YOU CAN JUST NEVER HAVE TOO MANY CLOWNS.

"I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW" BY THE N4 SINGING CLASS.

“I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW” BY THE N4 SINGING CLASS.

DRAKE & GABE.

DRAKE & GABE.

TODD, TANYA & MICHAEL

TODD, TANYA & MICHAEL

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December to Remember

Nicole & Rosie. Nicole might get the prize for best jammies.

Nicole & Rosie. Nicole might get the prize for best jammies.

DECEMBER is a month of fantasy, fun and other odd happenings at North Fourth. Sherilyn has created a December to Remember by using every imaginable excuse to celebrate and, of course, make art. Daily themes for the first two weeks are pajamas, dogs, persons with disabilities, cookies, soldiers, time travelers, food bank contributions, clowns, mountains and tacky Christmas sweaters. I can see some very interesting art happenings around here as a result of these slightly crazy ideas.

Marc and his very favorite pet.

Marc and his very favorite pet.

 Here’s a diary of the week so far:                                                     Today, December 1st is Wear Your PJs day. I’m a little disappointed actually. Since this is an entire building full of artists I somehow expected that the outfits of the day would be more…well…artful. Like giant troll sculptures or paper mache elves or Alvin and the Chipmunk outfits. Instead most artists are in their best Target jammies which, come to think of it, are funny-looking  enough!

Andie and Bruce are particularly fetching this morning.

Andie and Bruce are particularly fetching this morning.

Everybody needs a pair of Loida's slippers.

Everybody needs a pair of Loida’s slippers.

Jane, nice color and so snuggly-looking.

Jane, nice color and so snuggly-looking.

And what parade of fasion jammies would be complete without Karen and her bunny or bear or whatever it is.

And what parade of fasion jammies would be complete without Karen and her bunny or bear or whatever it is.

And now it’s Tuesday and time for National Mutt Day which Andie, Marcus and Bruce are celebrating with Three Dog Night and other frisky creatures of the dog world. My bonus for today was getting to join in on “Joy to the World”—and wonder if there is anyone in the world that can’t carry a tune as well as I can’t carry a tune. There are many good singers in the class, Kevin and Drake for example who are fine singers by any standards. Andie, Marcus and Bruce sounded pretty melodic also. But no one barked better than Kevin or yipped better than Joeanna Kahuna. Marc’s puppet puppy didn’t whine to be let out or you-know-what in the corner and didn’t even sneak food from the lunch boxes. Good dog. Phil, Grace and Sarah kept begging for something—could have been old bones dug up from the back yard or maybe pizza, I’m not sure which…  But then Sarah rolled back in her dead dog pose so maybe it wasn’t either one of those things.

Sal and his best friend.

Sal and his best friend.

What a singer...Kevin and Three Dog Night.

What a singer…Kevin and Three Dog Night.

Phil and Grace, scratching for their supper.

Phil and Grace, scratching for their supper.

Sarah says she's dead dog.

Sarah says she’s dead dog.

Drake, another amazing singer, and his Three Dog Night.

Drake, another amazing singer, and his Three Dog Night.

And the leader of the band is....ANDIE...

And the leader of the band is….ANDIE…

Finally we’ve arrived at Wednesday which is Persons with Disabilities Day. Time for a tour of the building to see what’s going on this chilly Wednesday morning.  Tamara and Marcus are trying to get the classes’ attention while I interrupt with picture taking. They have been discussing disability advocacy in general and are about to create artworks that represent each of them.

Kate’s class is watching a quick film about Scott Weir, born with severe cerebral palsy, but who managed to live out many of his dreams in spite of his disability. He especially loved driving anything and everything and his hero was Dale Earnhardt, the race car driver.

Monique and the North Fourth sewing aficionados are busily creating some really beautiful quilts. Our quilters are especially enthusiastic and skillful in their art…many of them would happily work on their colorful projects every day of the week but they are too good at other arts not to get them out of sewing once in awhile.

Tamara's explaining something very important...we think?

Tamara’s explaining something very important…we think?

 

Nick is even busier than usual today...getting ready for Christmas.

Nick is even busier than usual today…getting ready for Christmas.

Doreen's happy today. Holidays in the air.

Doreen’s happy today. Holidays in the air.

Sunnie and Drake, practicing for showcase.

Rehearsing for showcase next week.

Joyce is making a wall hanging for her brother.

Joyce is making a wall hanging for her brother.

We are all looking forward to cookie day tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one of the local bakeries just set up shop here for the day? And fed us cookies from morning until night. We can dream…

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Thanksgiving is in the Eye and Wrist and Paint of the Beholder.

Eddy has a tasty palette prepared in honor of Big Food Day. Look at the whipped cream blending just a little with the chocolate pie. Yum, you know how sweet that is. And just below, there’s the red chili for the mashed potatoes and turkey. Nothing sweet there, just real holiday heat.

Eddy has a tasty palette prepared in honor of Big Food Day. Look at the whipped cream blending just a little with the chocolate pie. Yum, you know how sweet that is. And just below, there’s the red chile for the mashed potatoes and turkey. Nothing sweet there, just real holiday heat.

Whipped Cream and Chocolate with a bit of lemon pudding on the side.

Whipped Cream and Chocolate with a bit of lemon pudding on the side.

That chile does burn.

That chile does burn.

It is Thanksgiving Week. Holidaymaking is in the air…and will stay there until real work begins again on Monday morning, January 5, 2015.  Oh sure, we’ll all come to work most days between now and then and make art or dance or tell stories or teach or assist or administer. But what will we accomplish? Well, we’ll enjoy each other, and holiday painting and sculpting and drawings will appear to brighten our days. The sounds of music and of Karen singing will echo throughout the building. There’ll be a little drumming and booty-shaking as well, all to the tune of Jingle Bells?

Let’s just enjoy the merry art-making that’s all about the building. For starters how about Tom’s painting and drawing class where they were busy finishing up pieces they have been working on or making some new ones especially for Thanksgiving. Although the artists started out making interesting work that seemed to have nothing to do with Thanksgiving we discovered, upon closer examination, that really many of these paintings and drawings turned out to be all about the holiday.

Cat’s Christmas Castle for example. Cat is completing it early so that people can start visiting even now. It’s kind of like Black Friday, only it’s early visiting instead of early shopping. Besides it is beautiful and safe and magical, none of which applies to Black Friday.

Cat and the Magic Christmas Castle.

Cat and the Magic Christmas Castle.

Adam thinks of Thanksgiving as a very peaceful time because, he says, turkey puts him to sleep which makes him feel extremely peaceful. He has two generally related holiday pieces. This small piece is a Christmassy kaleidoscopic, with green bushes lining the street for the walk over to a friend’s house for dinner.

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The fat white dog ate all of the turkey scraps and now Adam, whose face is painted in honor of Black Friday, has to carry him home.

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Belinda has created her own version of the table set for a gigantic Thanksgiving feast with dishes of all colors and flavors. What a variety! Something for everyone. Including a lot of purple dishes made from Grapes and Plums and Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes and Eggplant.

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Joe’s church is where everyone goes before or after to dinner to thank the Native Americans who were nice enough to keep the first illegal immigrants from starving to death on their first November in their new world.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone…See you next week.

Just another day at work—but one with a whole lot of food and friendship

 

Gloria, getting into her Foodie role.

Gloria, getting into her Foodie role.

Like all people who work together on a daily basis, the North Fourth Art Center staff has its good days and bad. Friendships develop and get frayed around the edges from time to time. We rely on each other at work and outside. And mostly it’s all good.

Working at North Fourth is a hard job whether you’re teaching art or providing personal assistance to the students who come to spend their days in a safe and engaging and creative environment. These students have great affection for and very high expectations of the staff and, we’re proud to say, they deliver. Whatever it takes, they’re up to the task.

Once in awhile we gather for a few hours of eating and laughing. Today, our very own pre-Thanksgiving holiday was one of those days.

The staff all pitches in but sisters Gloria and Ana have usually taken the lead every year; this year Gloria was the organizer extraordinaire giving her sister a little time off.

As usual, everything was completely delicious, from the varied veggies to Teddy’s sweetly creamily delicious cheesecakes. Since the best foods in the world, stuffing and sweet potatoes appear at Thanksgiving, it’s a good day by my standards. Monica and Susanna, they were perfect…absolutely perfect.

Thanks to one and all.

A slightly strange looking turkey but a happy one (at least before he was cooked)  because of his free-range life.

A slightly strange looking turkey but a happy one (at least before he was cooked) because of his free-range life.

But always eat your veggies.

But always eat your veggies.

Teddy singlehandedly made all of the cheesecakes.

Teddy singlehandedly made all of the cheesecakes.

Tom and Omar, third or fourth plates.

Tom and Omar, third or fourth plates.

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Tamara and Monique. Finishing touches?

Roni and Rich deciding from which angle to approach the tables.

Roni and Rich deciding from which angle to approach the tables.

Monica, the stuffing maker, samples other delicacies.

Monica, the stuffing maker, samples other delicacies.

Jesse and Josh and Bradd, dainty eaters all.

Jesse and Josh and Bradd, dainty eaters all.

Tamara and Gloria, I assume that's fine wine in appropriately fine crystal.

Tamara and Gloria, I assume that’s fine wine in appropriately fine crystal.

Sherilyn is eating to keep her hair strong.

Sherilyn is eating to keep her hair strong.

 

Artists ALL: N4th Gallery presents in•struct

Christopher MacQueen, N4th Gallery Co-coordinator, Exploratory Arts Staff  and painter. Christopher focuses on connecting straight and curved lines; they're elemental shapes that can dictate the course of the painting.

Christopher MacQueen, N4th Gallery Co-coordinator, Exploratory Arts Staff and painter. Christopher focuses on connecting straight and curved lines; they’re elemental shapes that can dictate the course of the painting.

The North Fourth Art Center is brimming over with artists—they’re everywhere—classes and theater and gallery and hallways full of art and artists. It is quite a wonderful sight. In the midst of all this painting and singing and sculpting and dancing it is easy to forget that almost the entire staff of teachers, direct care staff, administrators and volunteers are also artists—accomplished and innovative artists in fact.

To celebrate this staff and volunteer talent, we organized in•struct.

in•struct provided a glimpse into the artistic inspirations and working methods of the talented people who form the backbone of an organization that has served Albuquerque’s arts community for over 30 years. The exhibition is an artful mix of 2D and 3D work in a surprisingly wide range of media— from the fabric art forms of an “interactive” sculpture, an embroidered “painting” and a woven wall hanging, to prints produced using woodcut, monotype and intaglio techniques. The exhibit also includes oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, photography and works in ceramics, colored pencil and mixed media.

in•struct was in the gallery from September 19 through November 10th and was enjoyed by all who visit North Fourth on a daily basis as well as visitors from the community. Curators Philip With and Jessica Pinto did a great job to make sure a range of media and styles were represented.

Enjoy the work and a few words from some of the artists.

Jesse         , Direct Care Staff and painter, +

Jesse Michelback , Direct Care Staff and painter, +

Monique Montoya, visual arts teacher and printmaker. She particularly enjoyed making "Sax Man" which is based on her brother, a sax player.

Monique Montoya,Visual Arts Teacher and printmaker. She particularly enjoyed making “Sax Man” which is based on her brother, a sax player.

Deborah Brink, Arts Adventures director and photographer.

Deborah Brink, Arts Adventures Director and photographer.

Tom Brejcha, Visual Arts Teacher and painter calls his work, hyperrealism. Tom loves all kinds of art, he says it feeds his brain so he stays creative.

Tom Brejcha, Visual Arts Teacher and painter calls his work, hyperrealism. Tom loves all kinds of art, he says it feeds his brain so he stays creative.

Chelcie Hammond, Exploratory Arts Staff and weaver/mixed media.

Chelcie Hammond, Exploratory Arts Staff and weaver/mixed media artist–accompanied by her two very finest works of art.

Gloria Schwartz, Volunteer Extraordinaire and "Thread-Painter.'

Gloria Schwartz, Volunteer Extraordinaire and “thread-painter.’

Teddy Jackson, Direct Care Staff and photographer.

Teddy Jackson, Direct Care Staff and photographer.

Tamara Schardt, Visual Arts Teacher and Mixed Media Artist. According to Tamara her Breech Birth grouping is an exploration of how memory shifts and changes over time--that memory is a layered process.

Tamara Schardt, Visual Arts Teacher and mixed media artist. According to Tamara her Breech Birth grouping is an exploration of how memory shifts and changes over time–that memory is a layered process.

Tamara's piece.

Tamara’s piece.

Derek         , Exploratory Arts Staff and pinter.

Derek Smith , Exploratory Arts Staff and painter.

Adam Smith, Day Arts Staff and painter.

Adam Smith, Day Arts Staff and painter.

Susanna Kearny, Visual Arts Outreach Staff and photographer.

Susanna Kearny, Visual Arts Outreach Staff and photographer.

Work by Shelly Breedon, Super Volunteer and painter.

Work by Shelley Bredeson, Super Volunteer and painter.

Bowl by Tim Psomas.

Bowl by Tim Psomas, Director of Exploratory Arts and clay artist/painter.

Bowl by Charles Chavez, Exploratory Arts Staff and clay artists.

Bowl by Charles Chavez, Exploratory Arts Staff and clay artist.

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Ashlie Maxwell, Visual Arts Teacher and painter.

Ashlie.

Ashlie.

THE GOOD GUYS OF GOVERNMENT

Dede Feldman, Ed Sandoval, Bill O'Neill, Deborah Armstrong

Dede Feldman, Ed Sandoval, Bill O’Neill, Deborah Armstrong

The North Fourth Art Center has been fortunate over the years to have enthusiastic supporters who also happen to be government officials, legislators, commissioners and councilors.

What a pleasure it was to have some of the most loyal as our guests Saturday night, June 28th.

For the closing night of Equilibrium Theater and Buen Viaje Dance’s season, North Fourth hosted our very own Representatives and Senators, past, present and future, at a reception. Orlie Sedillo and Tasia Young, former and current board members, served as masters of ceremony and we were able to express our thanks to Ed Sandoval (Representative, District 17 until the 2015 session), Debbie Armstrong (new Rep for District 17), Dede Feldman (former Senator District 13) and Bill O’Neill (current Senator District 13). Other friends and supporters present included Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, former Senator Richard Romero, Representative Rick Miera, former Representative Daniel Silva and Representative Mimi Stewart.

Orlie Sedillo, Ed Sandoval

Orlie Sedillo, Ed Sandoval

Rick Miera; Bob White and Leonard Stitelman

Rick Miera; Bob White and Leonard Stitelman

We are very honored that so many of our best and brightest public servants support the programs we offer here at North Fourth. We are all familiar with the general consensus that government is broken—and perhaps share that view from time to time. But, again like so many of us, we love our own legislators. We should—they have been nothing but concerned, involved and respectful of our programs, artists and staff. As importantly, they have participated in and enjoyed what we do here—they truly have fun when they join us for events, programs and parties.

I want to put in my plug here for paying attention to where our legislators—and all of our elected officials—stand on the issues, particularly in our case standing with people with disabilities. Pay attention and VOTE. When you do that it results in government that is responsive to EVERYONE.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF ELECTED FRIENDS

AND WE THANK THEM.