Archive for the ‘Museums’ category

Watch “Giving Back…” on YouTube

July 19, 2019

Here’s my son recieving training this summer from an intern who is a freshman at UNM. He’s learning how to work at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. He’s been going there since he was a young child and it’s such a great place. It is important to me to raise a thoughtful, creative, cultured child, whom could give back to his community.

This summer I decided it was time to take active steps in teaching him how to develop a good work ethic. We both became official volunteers at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. What a great way to give back and teach kids something valuable in the process!

Full Circle

July 7, 2019

“Life is a full
circle, widening
until it joins
the circle motions
of the infinite.”

▪︎-Anais Nin

▪︎I once stood in this place as a high school student… the Poeh Culture Center… in my hometown… longing to belong to this cultural institution. Today I am able to provide knowledge there driven by two decades of experience. Life always comes full circle. Trust… you are always in that place which God intended you to be at any given moment.▪︎

An Interest in the Undead: An Interview with Author Ray John de Aragón

September 9, 2014

An Interview with Ray John de Aragon_Logo
Ray John de Aragón has been called “one of New Mexico’s prolific Hispanic authors” and a “master of both the English and Spanish languages making him one of the top bi-lingual authors producing today.” The Hispanic American author who was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico has a rare mix of artistic gifts. Not only is he a writer, but he is an “internationally recognized santero” and artist. This man with an intricately carved professional career also shares creative energy with his community as the District Arts Coordinator for the Los Lunas Schools. Aragón is an educated man who majored in American Studies and actively participates in scholarly and artistic events.

“I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I often thought about the idea that written words possess a great power. Words can make people think. They can make them laugh, and even make them cry. Written words have changed the course of history and have directed civilizations.”
~~~Ray John de Aragón

Ray John de Aragon and Doña Sebastiana

~Ray John de Aragón and Doña Sebastiana~

Aragón’s award-winning/bestselling book Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy (2006) has been regularly reviewed for several years. The onset of reviews is said to have spurred the Hispanic writer into the national and even international spotlight. He has been featured on streaming media and has made several guest appearances on radio and television over the years. This includes being featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Telemundo and Univision. The same bestselling book is also used by students in courses at Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University and the University of New Mexico.

I am always very honored when Ray John de Aragón asks me to write about him. It is great to be respected by such an accomplished writer who is known internationally by scholars, authors and artists alike. I had the pleasure of meeting Aragón in 2011. I met him not as an archivist, but as a writer. We met a little over three years ago at the National Hispanic Cultural Center during the 9th Annual National Latino Writers Conference. For that conference, Aragón was a presenter in addition to being a distinguished guest of honor. Visit these links to read more about when I met Aragón at that conference or to read about what I have already written about Aragón.

Since I have known this author, he has published four books. This is the third that I will write about. Between the late 1970s and 2014, Aragón has written a total of 10 books. In retroflex this includes: New Mexico Book of the Undead: Goblin & Ghoul Folklore (2014); Lincoln: Images of America (2013); Enchanted Legends and Lore of New Mexico: Witches, Ghosts & Spirits (2012); Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico (2012); The Legend of La Llorona (2006); Padre Martinez and Bishop Lamy (2006); The Penitentes of New Mexico (2006); Hermanos De LA Luz: Brothers of the Light (1998); Hermanos De La Luz: Living Tradition Of the Penitente Faith (1997); and City of Candy and Streets of Ice Cream (1979).

“The story I will always remember, of course, is the one of La Llorona. I grew up with it. I was told where she had lived, and where she had died. She is an alma que anda penando, a soul in search of peace. I can honestly say that I heard her one night. Her piercing cry was like the cry of a demented woman. One would have to hear it to believe it.”
~~~Ray John de Aragón

Aragón is married to Rosa Maria Calles. He and his wife are fixtures of Valencia County and are very well known in Los Lunas. Calles is originally from Tome, New Mexico and they have four children. Aragón found his creative and intelligent match in Rosa Maria Calles, who is “a renowned artist, playwright, director, and producer.” The couple is actively involved with the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts and in 2007, Aragón was recognized by the Valencia County News-Bulletin for winning “statewide attention for art programs” as the District Arts Coordinator of Los Lunas Schools. In late 2008, the Los Lunas museum featured Aragón’s work in the exhibit “Saints and Sacred Places.” His work was again featured in 2010 for the “Nuestras Raices: Our Roots” exhibit.

Ray John de Aragon and wife Rosa Maria Calles

~Ray John de Aragón and wife Rosa Maria Calles~

It is likely that Aragón’s “professional learning and growth” again sprouted in 2012 after a short hiatus from publishing books. After becoming a Santa Fe Leadership Center fellow and being acknowledged for The Art and Experience of Leadership, the author came back full force and has published 4 books since then. His latest book is New Mexico Book of the Undead: Goblin & Ghoul Folklore, which was just released with an awesome book jacket. Like me, it seems that Aragón tends to prefer the darker side of history. Our state is filled with black stories and complex mysteries. Like most New Mexicans, Aragón is intrigued by the tales of ghosts, witches and hauntings passed on to us by our grandparents. In this book, Ray John de Aragón “recounts stories from the state’s rich and spine-chilling cultural folklore.”

New Mexico Book of the Undead by Ray John de Aragon

“Folklore is a part of who we are. It is an integral part of our being. This was true thousands of years ago and it is true today. Even in this technological age, most everyone is still intrigued by stories of witches, phantasms, vampires, and the unexplained.”
~~~Ray John de Aragón

The author says that his newest book is filled with “New Mexico Hispanic folklore” which is “full of terrifying creatures that traverse the dark shadows of the night.” Aragón says “these otherworldly beings appear when one least expects it. They are there, waiting in the darkness to strike in places we should not be at, or at times of the night that we should not be out.” His book “captures these forbidding spirits and tells their stories” that were passed down from generation to generation. One story which will be recounted is that of “Bloody Mary.” It will be her first appearance in a book published about New Mexico folklore. He says that some of the stories “are as old as the Spanish colonization of New Mexico,” and span our 400 year history here.

If you want to meet an author who believes in ghosts and says “seeing is believing,” you can pick up his newest book just in time for Halloween!! Aragon currently has three book signings scheduled for October. The first is on October 11, 2014 at 2:00pm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Salón Ortega. The second will be on October 18, 2014 at 2:00pm at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts. The third will be on October 30, 2014 at 7:00pm at Bookworks in Albuquerque. You can also order New Mexico Book of the Undead: Goblin & Ghoul Folklore online by visiting the History Press web site.

Kicking Off Earth Day

April 19, 2014

Today we celebrated Earth Day at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. We all need to do our part to care for Mother Earth. Earth Day is officially on April 22, but the museum had a sweet little kick off today.


~★~ “F&E Touch”
LEGO letters by me
🙂 ~★~


~Kids painting the Earth Day piano to be displayed in the mall.~

Gurlz Who Luv Creepy Crawlerz

March 25, 2014

~~~*Here is the super short video I uploaded to my YouTube channel.*~~~
Not long ago, D had a chance to meet a self proclaimed entomologist. He met the bug lover at the Harrell House of Natural Oddities, which also has a bug museum. My son seemed fascinated by a master of insects, but I am no stranger to the world of entomology. Sometimes I feel like I either break the rules associated with gender, or if there are no rules, I’m just a manly woman with a love of guy stuff?! Have you heard the acronym FTGS? Click that acronym to look it up! Yup….now that’s me! Girly? I love me some bugs!

The word entomology derives from the Greeks. The “entomos” in entomology means that which is segmented. You know…bugs! Let me get this straight, I wouldn’t love bugs and spiders crawling all over me, but I think they are very beautiful. The branch of zoology dealing with creepy crawlerz recruits the world’s best entomologists. The first time I met an entomologist was many years ago when I worked as a PIO for New Mexico State Parks. I loved that job. I remember being completely intrigued by that strange bug man.

I enjoyed learning all about butterflies, moths, spiders, dragonflies, scorpions and other crawlerz. It was interesting to see that I still feel as I did all those year ago when I met my first entomologist. I felt bad for the “mounted specimens.” Specimens? The word literally takes the life out of them. I thought of my friend Corky and his spider rescue. There is a very fine line between learning and hurting living things. I took photos of some of the butterfly and dragonfly specimens because they were truly amazing to see. I felt bad and deleted the “specimen” photos.

Oliver Greer has collected at least 2,400 specimens from around the world for this museum. 2,400 beautiful things, now gone from their natural habitat. It is actually sad to think about. Greer does seem like a really good man. He is a chef at the Ore House, a writer, and an independent film maker who also loves bugs. Hopefully, he talks to the creatures he is collecting and asks for their forgiveness. I would hope he explains why he is doing it. I mean most people would not learn in a hands on environment without this museum. Yes…we touched some lively creatures.

My favorite part of the museum tour was the live demonstration. I didn’t know scorpions glow under a black light. Did you? I have some wonderfully dark, love poetry planned in relation to the creatures I was most fascinated with. I included those I really liked in a super short video and put it up on my YouTube channel. Maybe I choose music from Knife Party for the video because they have a song called Centipede. My favorites included: a Ghost Mantis; a Deathstalker Scorpion; an African Millipede; a Tailless Whip Scorpion and an Emperor Scorpion; an Eastern Hercules Beetle; a Vinegaroon; and the Chilean Rose Tarantula.

The Harrell House Bug Museum is located inside the Harrell House of Natural Oddities store in the DeVargas Mall. It’s worth a look see and maybe a touch see!

✨Planetary✨: My New Theme

January 15, 2014


My new header and gravatar designs incorporate a photograph taken on my last visit to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. I love that museum!! It is an amazing place. Check out one of my older posts “A Close Journey” because it mentions the STARTUP Exhibit. I said it “never fails to intrigue me. I am always amazed by anything remotely technological. The artifacts are beautiful, and provide unique insight into the minds of Paul Allen, Bill Gates, hackers, and other MIT pioneers.” True love indeed. True love!!

Da Vinci and His Insatiable Need

July 28, 2013

~Infrared image of Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ~ the Salvator Mundi~ National Gallery~

I can still remember the day that I stood in front of the Mona Lisa. It was 1993 and I had never seen the work of a master artist up close. It was amazing to think that I stood in front of a work created by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 1500s. One of the best museums I have ever visited was the Musée du Louvre in Paris. I was just a girl then and I would appreciate the history so much more today. At the time, I couldn’t even understand why I couldn’t use a flash to take a photograph of Da Vinci’s iconic image?

Da Vinci was such an amazing person. Aside from his works of art he was very inquisitive and loved to learn about how things functioned. Of course this fascination inspired his works, but his interests seemed to go further than basic curiosity. I admire his studies of the human body. His intricate pieces appear to jump off of the paper. They are alive in some strange way.

This afternoon I watched a fabulous special on KNME. It was titled “Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure.” In the documentary, Fiona Bruce “uncovers the story of Leonardo Da Vinci.” He was “considered to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived” and has been called an “enigmatic genius.” He was very enigmatic. I believe that much of the mystery surrounding this man was lost when he passed away.

In the documentary hosted by Fiona she traveled to New York to see a “lost” painting. The painting is believed to be an original Da Vinci piece. Conservation specialists revealed techniques used to examine the painting and it was very interesting. With infrared imaging they were able to look under layers of paint to reveal draft designs. This is something a copycat would not have done and is considered a primary reason this painting is genuine.

I knew some things about Leonardo, but there were a few interesting things I did not know. I learned that at 13 years old, he moved to Florence as an apprentice to a master artist. At 13? Wow! It was awesome to learn that “he kept a notebook always dangling from his belt.” His mind moved so fast that “he became notorious for not finishing his works.” I couldn’t believe that by the age of 20 he became an official part of the Florentine Painters! Makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away.

My favorite part of the documentary discussed how fascinated Da Vinci was with the human body. He mapped the geometry of the human body. The artist was so intrigued by the architecture of the physique that he practiced dissection in local hospitals. This helped him understand and chart the human body to see how it functioned. He compared the inner workings of the body to nature (i.e. the lungs to a branches of a tree or to a river). This sounds somewhat along the lines of the Doctrine of Signatures with regard to symbolism and shapes.

This doctrine is philosophical and is tied to herbs, plants and their medicinal uses. Though the Signatura Rerum or Signature of All Things was not published until 1621, the concepts were studied by several people in 16th century Europe. Studies along these lines went back even further to the Romans and Greeks. Da Vinci was so in tune with symbolism which I find awesome! This leads me to believe that this doctrine was of interest to him? Most scientists write off the Doctrine of Signatures, but I believe.

It was so depressing to see paintings like the huge image of the Last Supper in a state of deterioration. Accoring to Fiona’s research, it is about 20 percent of what it use to be. She called the painting “a ghost” of what it once was. This is apparently because Da Vinci chose to paint with oil paints on dry plaster, which is not how a fresco should be painted.

I learned so much from this documentary. It would be a dream come true for me to visit an archive holding the original sketch books of this master artist. It is so amazing how the human mind can continuously seek knowledge, yet never satiate the need for or hunger for more. Sometimes I feel rather “Da Vinci” in that respect.

~Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ- the Salvator Mundi exhibited at the National Gallery~

Finding My Game Face

December 10, 2012
...Game Face... Team USA~ Women's Heptathlon~ Photograph by Tony Duffy

…Game Face… Team USA~ Women’s Heptathlon~ Photograph by Tony Duffy

This week I’m going to have to dig deep to get back on track. My trip to the bay was very educational and was fuel for my mind, but I did fall off my game plan in the gym.

Tomorrow will be my first day back in the real gym for almost two weeks. There was a small gym I was able to hit it in a couple of times last week, still that was a far cry from my usual routine! I need to find my game face again!!

There is one exhibition I could kick myself for not tracking down while I was in Washington, DC. The Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall displays some amazing images of women.

Why didn’t I make time to go look for “Game Face?” This exhibit and book poses the question~ “what does a female athlete look like?” The answer is~ they look *awesome! Just imagine them game facing it in a 2,500 square foot exhibition! Nice…

Maybe I can find the book? Well….. after I find my game face again! This may be one of my most favorite sites ever.
Check out Game Face for yourself.

“The exhibition at The Smithsonian shows female athletes doing what they do well: everything. Women and girls featured embody a fierceness that is quickly becoming acceptable to an American audience once unreceptive to, even disgusted by females on the field.”
–The Dallas Morning News

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine

July 14, 2012

Screen shots of the Wayback Machine statistics for
My Voyage Through Time and The Drawings of Leonardo.

Did you really think that web site was gone?? One of my all time favorite tools in my digital arsenal includes the Wayback Machine. If you have never heard of it, be prepared to blow your mind. Most of you know that I like things that creep and crawl, but this web crawler absolutely rocks. The Wayback Machine is basically a digital time portal. The portal is a repository for snapshots of the living internet. With the machine, you can “browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available.” At some point this site is sure to be full text searchable, but unfortunately it is not there yet. In the mid 90s, Bruce Gilliat and Brewster Kahle (of Internet Archive- a California based non-profit organization) created a web crawler capable of capturing publicly accessible digital information. Someone had to do it! 🙂 Gilliat, Kahle, and their team collaborated with the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress on this mind bending project. Because of obvious changes in browsers and such, the pages don’t always look perfect, but the data is there. I searched for my web site just out of curiosity. What?? I got a big red exclamation point with a corresponding note reading “The Wayback Machine hasn’t archived a capture for that URL. Here’s a capture taken 0 minutes ago from the live web that will become part of the permanent archive in a few months.” Well at least my data will be archived now! If my web site gets taken out by a hacker “boooyeahhh!” Haha… It’s kinda like a site backup people… I ran another check of one of my favorite sites The Drawings of Leonardo, and found that the site has been archived 194 times since 2001. There is a timeline and you can click away to see what the site looked like at any of those 194 points in time. Of course since these captures are live snapshots of the internet, they are indeed records. The records have been used as legal evidence in court cases. There have also been many challenges for this team of technologically savvy archive geniuses. Some people don’t like for data and history to live on, but I am an archivist, so I gotta luv it! Check out the Wayback Machine if you haven’t. It is sure to pop your top!

New Mexico History: The Start of the 2012 Conference

May 3, 2012
Page 29 of Un Tesoro (2008) by Ramon Jose Lopez

Page 29 of Un Tesoro (2008) by Ramon Jose Lopez

Today was a good start to the 2012 New Mexico Historical Society Conference. The forum was excellent. This image is from a page of the 2008 Lopez book. It is on display and it is beautiful (gold leaf and all).

11*****Posted using WordPress for BlackBerry*****11

Creative New Mexico Survey (2011)

October 7, 2011

Below is a letter regarding the Creative New Mexico Survey.  Other entities participating will be: Creative Albuquerque; the New Mexico Humanities Council; Creative Santa Fe; the New Mexico Historical Society; the New Mexico Museum Association; and New Mexico Arts.

*********** *********** ***********
Dear Friends,

We are sending this Creative New Mexico Survey to you because you are involved in the Arts and Culture industry of New Mexico and we would like your thoughts.

Despite being an important economic driver in New Mexico, our Arts and Culture industries have never had a unified voice or singular industry champion to garner state/national government support or a strong presence in state tourism marketing. Because of this, Creative Albuquerque and Creative Santa Fe have formed the Creative New Mexico Steering Committee with initial representation from the Historical Society of New Mexico, New Mexico Humanities Council, New Mexico Association of Museums, NMArts, libraries, galleries, music and theater, to explore the possibility of creating a statewide advocacy organization to support, protect and grow New Mexico’s creative industries.

We envision an organization that includes and serves all communities in our state and all Arts and Cultural industries both public and private. We have identified areas that we believe are important but would like everyone’s input to determine priorities as we move forward.

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts with us.  Please click here to participate in the Creative New Mexico Survey.

Sincerely, Helen Maestas

*********** *********** ***********

Curiosities and a Handful of Heart…

October 2, 2011

On September 23, 2011, I visited the exhibits at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. The museum features about six galleries, each filled with interesting pieces of history. I was able to see these exhibits in conjunction with the New Mexico Oral History Forum.

The first gallery I visited was the North Gallery. Here there is an exhibit which runs from September 18, 2011 thru January 8, 2012 titled Hispanic Traditional Arts of New Mexico. This exhibit features pieces from the permanent collection of the museum. The art was breathtaking. I was particularly taken by the Art of the Santero. These traditional artists utilize various types of wood to create extravagant religious pieces such as retablos (flat paintings), bultos (3D carved imagery), and reredos (altar screens). This art is reminiscent of the Spanish Colonial period, but contemporary artists still make a prominent mark with this style. There were two pieces that I was anticipated photographing, however, I was sad to learn that photos were not allowed. There were two pieces in particular that I was struck by.

Cruz Lopez portrayed Our Lady of Sorrows in a way that brought a tear to my eye. Lopez was born in Espanola in 1974, and is one year older than I am. He currently lives in Chimayo, and depicted Our Lady of Sorrows in the most sorrowful way I have ever seen. The main church named after Our Lady in New Mexico is in Las Vegas. In my many years, I have seen many images of Our Lady of Sorrows. She has been depicted in tears, on her knees, and with many knives through her heart. Lopez opted to portray the most painful of all. In his bulto titled La Virgen Dolorosa (1997), Lopez has Our Lady holding her own bloody heart. She appears to be giving it to the viewer. Dolorosa is a Latin word meaning way of grief or way of suffering. She invites you into her eyes, and this artist actually made me aware of her intense pain. It was an amazing piece. The oil paints he used saturated the wood with lifelike quality. The paint was uniquely vivid. Lopez carved her out of cottonwood and pine. I think art that makes us feel something is so important. It is clear that this santero poured his soul into her.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas, New Mexico by Harry Lake (ca 1900-1910)----------- Denver Public Library, Image No. L-495

There was another piece in this gallery that I loved. This piece was really one of many. Horacio Valdez created a scene with the famous death cart, and the lady of death herself. In his piece Dona Sebastana (La Muerte) from 1975, Valdez used carved cottonwood, aspen, and pine to make us believe that La Muerte was riding by with a cart full of sinners in the back. The carving was sitting on a high platform which was about five feet by ten feet long. The carving took up the entire space, and as far as I can remember may have been Cordova Style, which means it was not painted (but was naturally colored wood). Valdez was from Dixon, New Mexico, and died in 1992. This piece was kinda creepy (adored it), because the artist created a mixed media carving with raw hide and human hair. This made the carvings look really lifelike.

There were so many great photographs throughout the museum. There were great panoramic photos of Albuquerque right before, and right after New Mexico statehood (1912). These images were in the lobby and atrium. The East Gallery also housed images which were of interest to me. There was a Notable New Mexicans theme in that gallery. Georgia O’Keeffe (one of my favorites) was hanging there. Next to her beautiful black and white image (a side profile looking out her bedroom window), was this quote: “I know I cannot paint a flower. I know I cannot paint the sun or the desert on a bright summer morning, but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey my experience of the flower of significance to me at that particular time.” The photo was a 1956 silver gelatin print.

There was gallery that I will need to revisit when I have more time, and that was the Four Centuries History Gallery. I visited the gallery, however, I think I need more time to really take in the exhibits there. Some of the things that stood out to me on at quick glance… There was a brass bell from the AT&SF (Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe) Railway. The bell was a 20th century locomotive bell, and was very cool to see. In the “new town” section there was a demolition (dummy) bomb from 1943 (WWII era). The bomb was metal. There were also some war ration booklets, and a cast iron operating table. There was one item that was probably my absolute favorite in the museum. It was a 16th century writing box (of course) from Spain. The box was used to hold paper, ink, and pens, and was used as a table when needed. It was made of iron, wood, and cuir bouilli (boiled leather). Yes- even back then, people were habitual writers. I looked up the term cuir bouilli, and oddly enough this stuff was used as armor. For real- these writers (or scribes) didn’t mess around! They were going to protect the contents of their box by any means necessary. I can’t imagine transporting a huge box like that from place to place. It was a gorgeous piece, however, sometimes we gotta be grateful we live in the age of mobility!

Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

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I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

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