At a time when Albuquerque is making national headlines for all the wrong reasons, let’s remember what we’re fighting for: a culture that celebrates life, community and passion. The National Institute of Flamenco has been a force for good in the Duke City since its founding in 1982. Even now, having lost its Downtown space of 15 years to a calamitous blaze last December, what’s come to light is not destruction, but a vibrant, spirited community of support. De las Cenizas, a benefit for the institute tomorrow, April 5, at 7:30pm, is a grand, gutsy first step toward raising the money needed to plan new facilities. Artists and companies donating their talents to the night include Kalpulli Ehecatl, directed by Mapitzmitl Xiukwetzpaltzin, performing warrior-style traditional Aztec dances; Donna Jewell’s Ecotone Physical Theater, dedicated to improvisational performance through sound, movement, gesture and unexpected props; Niños Flamencos, kid dancers both adorable and surprisingly intense directed by NIF founder Eva Encinias Sandoval; and many more. Your $25-to-$75 ticket for the show at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW) will do a world of good toward reminding the world just what Albuquerque is known as: a locus for the flamenco arts, a place where art and history are kept fiercely alive with loving dedication. National Hispanic Cultural Center • Sat Apr 5 • 7:30pm • $25-$75 • View on Alibi calendar
Wake up, verbs. Drink some coffee, adjectives. Put on your mascara already, nouns. Your services are required by Albuquerque’s leading poets. Prepare to rally to action tomorrow when 10 local hopefuls compete in the 2014 ABQ Grand Slam Poetry Slam Championship. The four best will go on to represent Burque at the National Poetry Slam, held this August in Oakland, Calif. The poetic art of the public slam arrived in Albuquerque exactly two decades ago this year, and our homegrown versifiers have been doing us proud ever since with a national win in 2005 and frequent notable finishes. This year’s qualified poets lay down the gauntlet of words at Outpost Performance Space (210 Yale SE) at 7:30pm in the year’s biggest night of performance poetry. Tickets are available in advance or at the door for $10-$15; visit outpostspace.org, or call 268-0044 for deets. Outpost Performance Space • Sat Mar 29 • 7:30pm • $10-$15 • View on Alibi calendar
“They were leaking jet fuel and aviation gas. ... Kirtland Air Force Base agreed to an estimate of 8 million gallons a few years ago; the New Mexico Environmental Department suggested it could be as high as 24 million gallons, so it’s somewhere in there, in that range. … But even if it’s a conservative estimate, it still makes this the largest underground toxic release in US history. That’s uncontested.”
If you missed our in-depth look at this shocking environmental catastrophe in Burque’s own backyard, catch it here, as well as the response from an Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority board member in our Letters section. Listen to Correia’s informed and informative full broadcast on KUNM here.
Janire Nájera apparently likes her road trips 19th-century-style. The Spanish photojournalist and curator is taking a cue from Antonio Armijo—who laid the groundwork for successful trade along what's now known as the Old Spanish Trail when he successfully hoofed it from New Mexico to California and back (and managed to make a profit in the process)—with a voyage through northern New Mexico, parts of Utah and Arizona, and into Southern California. For the journey, Nájera's own pack animal of choice is an RV from 1984, a bit of an upgrade from the 100 mules of Armijo's trip in 1829-1830. Her goals are social and artistic in nature as she explores, according to the description on her website, how “the traditions of the first settlers [of European descent] ... have merged with domestic cultures, influencing the creation and identity of today's pueblos and modern cities.”
Nájera's journey began in Santa Fe on March 10, and she's already building a fascinating portrait of modern-day descendants of our region's Spanish heritage. See Nájera's video below featuring Julia Gómez talking about the famous Colcha stitch, and her latest blog entry has another great one with Santa Fe hairdresser Faustino Herrera de Vargas, entirely in Spanish, speaking about his storied life.
Julia Gómez at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art on the Colcha stitch
Follow Janire Nájera's travels along the Old Spanish Trail at her blog Looking Forward, Moving Back, and keep a weather eye out for the book and photography exhibit that will be the eventual result.
The Addams Family defines the word “resilient.” Starting out as a series of single-panel comics in The New Yorker, the macabre clan became a laugh-tracked camp-fest for two seasons of sitcom history in the 1960s. And while many fondly remember the films of the early ’90s, I say that any franchise capable of surviving the theme-song maw of MC Hammer rapping his way through 1991’s “Addams Groove” is one that must and shall rise again. Which brings us to the musical comedy skittering across the Popejoy (203 Cornell NE) stage for six performances tonight through Sunday, March 20-23. Featuring a schmaltzy new story about Wednesday bringing her boyfriend and his button-down Midwestern folks home to meet Gomez, Morticia and the rest of the uncanny gang, The Addams Family unabashedly panders to lovers of the ghoulish and the goofy with conga-line zombie ancestors, moon puppetry, loony musical numbers and coroner puns galore. Tickets for the spooky spectacle start at $32.50 for the balcony, so whether you’re a fan of Uncle Fester or a lover of Lurch, prepare for some silly, satisfying entertainment from the newest reincarnation of America’s weirdest family. Showtimes are as follows: Thursday (March 20) at 7:30pm, Friday (March 21) at 8pm, Saturday (March 22) at 2 and 8pm and Sunday (March 23) at 1 and 6:30pm. Popejoy Hall, UNM Center for the Arts • Thu Mar 20 • 7:30pm • $32.50-$62.50 • View on Alibi calendar
Upcycle your denim at Hip Stitch with the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild
Saturday, March 15, is a big day around these parts, and the question on everyone’s mind is: Who will reign supreme when vicious rivals the Heritage Farm Quilters and the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild—armed with titanium shears and topstitch needles—clash in their upcoming battle to the death?
Okay, that’s not really a question on anyone’s mind because this is not West Side Story. Though highly skilled with sharp objects, quilters tend to be remarkably nice people. Besides, they’ve got their territories pretty well sorted out by this point.
But I’m not kidding about Saturday. Depending on who you ask, March 15 is either National Quilting Day or Worldwide Quilting Day—in either case, folks will be gathering to celebrate a longstanding art that, much like knitting, soap making and moustache waxing, has experienced a resurgence of popular interest in recent years.
At Hip Stitch (7001 San Antonio NE, near Louisiana), members of the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild are ready to put the power of piecing into the hands of the people with free one-hour demos covering two useful skills. At 10am, Linda Hamlin demonstrates the “slice and insert” technique, essential for creating quilts in the easier-than-it-seems “Paper Shredder” pattern. And at 11:30am, Lois Warwick gets fancypants with a demo of a sweet quilt called “Forever in Blue Jeans” that features jeans upcycling, or can be made with a layer cake (collection of 10”x10” squares of fabric) or four charm packs (collections of 5”x5” squares). (Is it just me, or do quilters have the best jargon?) Possibly due to territorial disputes, space is limited; call the store at 821-2739, or visit hipstitchabq.com to reserve your spot.
If your tastes run to the more traditional branches of quilting, the Heritage Farm Quilters are displaying their favorite cozy works of art at the Botanic Garden's Showroom and Heritage Farm (at the Biopark, 2601 Central NW) from 10am to 2pm. This group of adept stitchers has been congregating for more than six years at the Heritage House, sharing their secrets and bringing a timeless art to new generations of gang members quilters.
And if it so happens that a single day of quilting glorification isn't enough, be sure to stop by your local library to scope some of the breathtaking works on display throughout the month of March. The New Mexico Quilters’ Association has quilted gems on display at these ABC branches: Cherry Hills (6901 Barstow NE), Lomas Tramway (908 Eastridge NE), Main (501 Copper NW), Special Collections (423 Central NE), Taylor Ranch (5700 Bogart NW) and Tony Hillerman (8205 Apache NE).
Some people just don't know when to quilt—but clearly, there's a thriving community in Albuquerque just waiting to help them with that very problem.
If you fucking love science—or graphic novels—or wildly successful self-funded publishing projects—then Elizabeth Haidle is someone you should probably meet. The Taos-based illustrator jets down to Barelas tomorrow to read from and sign Mind Afire: The Visions of Nikola Tesla at 7pm. You know Tesla—the revolutionary wunderkind of electricity whose A/C (alternating current) famously battled against and eventually won out over Thomas Edison’s inferior D/C (direct current) for world domination. And who invented those lightning-spitting Tesla coil things. And who died broke and talking to pigeons. What I’m saying is, it’s a helluva story. Concocted in partnership with west-coast author/editor Abigail Samoun, Mind Afire is an 80-page full-color graphic novel bankrolled entirely by a blockbuster crowdfunding campaign. Come to the Tannex (1417 Fourth Street SW) to hear about the talented minds and business savvy that gave rise to the book. Stay for the irresistible charm of Brave New Burro, whose quirky brass melodies travel through time and space to bring you a sound that’s as delightful as it is unexpected. All this for just a five-shekel suggested donation. Tannex • Fri Mar 14 • 7pm • $5 suggested donation • ALL-AGES! • View on Alibi calendar
Did feminism really change anything? Do we even want it to? Over 50 years after Betty Friedan helped spark a second wave with The Feminine Mystique, we're still arguing about the morality of birth control and telling young women to “spend far more time planning for your husband than for your career.” (Gag.) As it happens, a fiercely funny, Pulitzer-nominated play is onstage right now in Albuquerque, tackling questions like these without resorting to flimsy stereotypes or strident manifestos. Rapture, Blister, Burn at the Aux Dog Theatre isn't just clever—it's nuanced, thoughtful and uproarious. I asked Aux Dog's producing artistic director Victoria Liberatori about the play, whose run comes to a close this weekend.
Let's start off with a biggie: The Aux Dog website asks, "Are you afraid of the F word?" and insists this "is not a 'feminist' play." Why shouldn't audiences be afraid of the lady-problems in Rapture, Blister, Burn, and how soul-crushingly sad is it that you even have to explain that?
Victoria Liberatori: Feminism has always gotten a bad rep as a man-hating, humorless, strident political movement for unfulfilled upper-class women. Was any movement for civil rights a laugh riot? However untrue, that label has stuck and, if anything, Rapture, Blister, Burn seeks to dispel those misperceptions and succeeds in debunking the dreary women's libber image. The show is funny, sexy and not at all preachy. Yes, it's sad that the image was falsely created and promoted by anti-feminist forces in the media, government and business. It's also shocking that we're still fighting the same battles today for equal pay, for access to abortion and for equal representation in our government, on corporate boards and in the media.
The New York Times says Rapture, Blister, Burn contains "a joke about pornography and Google maps — believe it or not — that’s worth the ticket price alone." What do you think is the key to the humor in this play?
VL: Unflinching honesty in the eye of hypocrisy and the fact that the real wisdom comes from the mouth of the youngest character in the play, Avery, a 21-year-old. The playwright, Gina Gionfriddo, has brilliantly interwoven the perspectives of three generations of women and that of the sole man in the play. When these points-of-view clash there are great comedic explosions!
Tell me a little about what your actors bring to their roles in the Aux Dog rendition of Rapture, Blister, Burn. What would you most like Albuquerque audiences to take away?
VL: The actors all do an amazing job of inhabiting these funny, neurotic, complex characters, yet they bring their own unique personal qualities to the roles. Our Catherine, played by Sheridan Johnson, is a high-strung academic rock star; Gwen, played by Jessica Osbourne, is a dreamy stay-at-home mom who feels she deserves more; Don, played by Ryan Montenery, is an attractive, charming slacker who settles for being a dean at a fourth-rate college; Avery, played by Sara Rosenthal, is a 21-year-old prophet of sorts who wants to be a reality TV star; and Alice, played by Gail Spidle, is Catherine's mother who just wants her daughter to be happy no matter how much must be compromised. The characters in this play are so rich in nuance and depth. What a joy to work with our director, Kristine Holtvedt, on them.
The take-away, I suppose, although I hope the play touches each audience member in a way that resonates for them, is that the grass is not always greener in someone else's garden and that we simply cannot reclaim the past no matter how much we want it. Creating a life that's happy isn't easy, but we must try.
And finally, what are you most excited about on Aux Dog's horizon?
VL: Launching our new Shakespeare classes with Jerry Ferraccio and our new acting classes with Jessica Osbourne in our new space, the AUX BOX next door to the Aux Dog. Solidifying our Aux Dog Theatre Company of actors, designers and production personnel, and building on the incredible success we had in 2013! Expanding our audience base and taking on new, challenging projects that excite us and our audiences is always a goal.
We see the intersection between human and machine getting airtime everywhere in pop culture these days, from Her’s husky-voiced operating system to “Almost Human,” the futuristic police procedural in which cop is partnered with android. But dancer and choreographer Cathy Weis has been delving into themes of humanity, technology and physicality for decades in a way that can still startle an audience jaded by ever-present CGI special effects. Live video feeds, monitors, projections, and camera dollies insert the inescapably electronic into dance’s ephemeral physical reality. Figures are repeated, amplified and shown from odd perspectives. But this is no grim exercise in theory—Weis’ brand of genius includes a sense of humor, like in one past show when the artist’s head kibitzed from a b&w television passed to the stage by the audience. Weis, who previously visited the North Fourth Art Center (4904 Fourth Street NW) in 2006, returns to Albuquerque this weekend for An Evening Back at North Fourth with N4th’s Buen Viaje Dance Company. Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, $10 for everyone else. Call 344-4542 or visit vsartsnm.org soon, because there are just two performances: tomorrow, March 7, and Saturday, March 8, at 8pm. N4th Theater • Fri Mar 7 • 8-9pm • $8-$10 • View on Alibi calendar
It might be counterintuitive, but limitations have a way of making us do more. On Twitter, the 140-character cap has been a boon to comedians who must hone their insights into the pithiest of possible zingers. From haiku to terza rima, poetry shows that language arranged in deliberate forms and bounded by rules can make for expressions that long outlive their creators. Enter PechaKucha, a 21st-century antidote to the wandering, self-indulgent unrestraint of old-timey PowerPoint presentations. By using just 20 slides for 20 seconds apiece, PechaKucha presenters clock in at under seven minutes while maintaining the freedom to convey real information and tantalizing ideas.
Now three local organizations are putting the format to excellent use. Tomorrow at 7pm, CityLab joins UNM School of Architecture and Planning and 516 Arts to spark conversation about the future of Albuquerque. Students from various community- and architecture-related programs will share their thoughts on the physical and social realities of our city at the CityLab space (505 Central NW). As part of 516 Arts’ ongoing Heart of the City project, the evening continues a line of inquiry about what Albuquerque’s “urban core” reveals about “the heart and soul of the city.” Join your friendly neighborhood visionaries for this free glimpse into ABQ not just as it stands right now, but as it might transform in the coming years. CityLab • Thu Feb 27 • 7pm • FREE • View on Alibi calendar