Saturday, October 25, 2014

All Jazzed Up, Creative Lives Series, Justin Ray

Humans may be the only species that are able to reflect on the wonder of participating in creation as we bring our own offspring into the world. 

This post is for all my friends who watched Justin grow up and cheered on his career as a professional musician.  Justin and Natalie Grinnell Ray are parents of a brand new baby boy, Wyatt Grinnell Ray.

  This creative endeavor is just the latest in Justin's accomplishments.  

Natalie and Wyatt

Growing up in Albuquerque, Justin was a favorite guest musician at his home parish, St. Mark's Episcopal Church. No Christmas Eve was complete without his triumphant trumpet announcing the arrival of the baby Jesus.  I am wondering if the birth of this newest member of his family will warrant a trumpet serenade as well?  Welcome to world, baby Wyatt.  You can be proud of your Daddy.  Have your grandmother, Marianna, read this to you when you are older.

About Justin Ray

Justin Ray Musician Trumpet Jazz 
Justin Ray has been a professional musician for almost 20 years. While attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he began to earn a reputation as a fiery and compelling trumpet soloist, comfortable in a wide variety of styles.  After finishing his degree, Ray relocated to Los Angeles and quickly became one of the most in demand musicians in the region.  He performed regularly with jazz legends like drummers Dave Weckl and Peter Erskine, vocalist Kurt Elling, pianists Bill Cunliffe and Alan Pasqua, and a host of others.  

In 2003, Ray accepted an offer from Warner Bros. recording artist Michael Buble to join his group.  
Photo by Frank Zipperer  Image via

"Justin has worked with Michael Buble as an instrumentalist, composer, arranger, etc.  Michael Buble said about Justin, "My fondest memory of Justin was at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2006.  During Justin's astounding solo on "Smile" one night, a lady in the audience rose to her feet to applaud his performance.  She turned out to be Justin's Mum and looked so proud of her immensely talented son up on stage. It was a truly remarkable reaction to an overwhelming performance.  As much as Justin plays his heart out every performance, you couldn't help but feel he had found a little something extra that evening to give his mum."  From an article by by Eddie LeShure found here
“My fondest memory of Justin was at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2006. During Justin’s astounding high-energy solo on “Smile” one night, a lady in the audience rose to her feet to applaud his performance. She turned out to be Justin’s mum and looked so proud of her immensely talented son up on stage. It was a truly remarkable reaction to an overwhelming performance. As much as Justin plays his heart out every night, you couldn’t help but feel that he’d found a little something extra that evening, just to give his mum!” ~ Singer Michael Buble - See more at:
“My fondest memory of Justin was at the Las Vegas Hilton in 2006. During Justin’s astounding high-energy solo on “Smile” one night, a lady in the audience rose to her feet to applaud his performance. She turned out to be Justin’s mum and looked so proud of her immensely talented son up on stage. It was a truly remarkable reaction to an overwhelming performance. As much as Justin plays his heart out every night, you couldn’t help but feel that he’d found a little something extra that evening, just to give his mum!” ~ Singer Michael Buble - See more at:

 He has toured 45 countries, appeared on Grammy-winning recordings, and has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in the world, such as Madison Square Garden, the Sydney Opera House, Radio City Music Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl.  Justin has also made a number of TV appearances, including multiple performances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Saturday Night Live.  

Justin has recorded three records under his own name.  The first is a self-titled collection of his hard-bop tinged originals.  His next, “Love Songs”, is a combination of jazz and beatnik-style poetry featuring works from artists as diverse as Allen Ginsberg and Star Trek’s Commander Data.  The third, “Evil Man Blues” (which is set to be released in summer 2014) features Ray  both as trumpeter and vocalist on a collection of jazz standards.
When he is not touring, Ray makes his home in Asheville NC, and is an active member of its vibrant musical community.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Short Santa Fe Sojourn

Our guest room has been feeling uncharacteristically useful recently.  It sits empty too much of the time.   A friend from high school (and NO we will not share how long ago that was!) visited this week.  She traveled from the wet and cool northwest to our sunny, crisp fall.  When asked what she most wanted to do, she replied, "Eat New Mexican Food!"  By which she did not mean "Tex-Mex" or "California Fusion."  Rather she was longing for that unique food that we grew up eating.  Chile spelled with an "e" at the end.  "Red, Green, or Christmas."  Chile Rellenos made with Big Jim's not poblanos.  Sopapillas dripping with honey.

We had made reservations at the El Rey in Santa Fe, so that we could spend a night and have plenty of time for galleries, shopping, and eating.  Okay, mostly eating!

My sister Rosalind always loved staying at the El Rey when she traveled for work, but I had never been thereBelow (I took all the photos unless they are attributed) is what we found...
Here is what you see from the street....but surprise, behind this building you will find five acres of a little oasis sheltered from traffic on the busy Cerrillos Road.  Above photo Via

No two rooms are decorated alike, but they are all spacious and very comfortable.  Take a look at El Rey's website to see images. (I don't receive any money for recommending either restaurants or lodgings...just like to share my personal preferences.)

We arrived in Santa Fe at 1:00 p.m., so the first order of business was lunch.  Mary wanted to return to the Blue Corn Cafe, which she and her husband had enjoyed on a previous visit.  We ran into another of my friend's, Betsy, who had brought her brother, visiting from San Francisco, to Santa Fe.  

My Southwestern Cobb Salad was wonderful, containing enough real bacon to make several BLT's and much too large to finish, but Mary's choice of Corn Chowder had me asking for more than one taste.  Next time I will order an entire bowl for myself.

Photo Via
 After lunch, we charged off to visit the shops and galleries, stopping, of course, at my childhood favorite, Doodlets.  After 50 years, it continues to delight me.  I purchased a few things for my grandchildren and a miniature witch for Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Mary loved this little jack-o-lantern sculpture..
The small black crow is by a Navajo carver, Ray Lansing his wife Alondra.

Ray and Alondra Lansing Photo Via

and she insisted on coming home with me from Sun Country Traders.  My owl is viewing her with suspicion.  Wise owl. Crows are notorious thieves, but I love her little frown!

Mary managed to find earrings to match several pieces of jewelry that she had purchased over the years.  Altogether a successful afternoon.  

Photo via

A little indulgent soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi at the El Rey revived us and we dressed (not "dressed up" because putting on a turquoise jewelry with your jeans are considered dressing for dinner in Santa Fe) and made it in time to have a Margarita in the bar at the Shed before our dinner reservations.  You can see photos of the Shed in a previous post here. They now take reservations for dinner, but you had better call the day before!

Which means I will soon be phoning The Shed for another reservation as we are expecting more guests this coming weekend.  Also from the Seattle area.  Could they be escaping the rains?  My guest room is ecstatic. 

Breakfast the next morning was Chile Rellenos at Pasqual's

With really great coffee and both red and green chile on board we headed out for a last look at galleries.

Then met my daughter out on Old Pecos Trail at a relatively new establishment (for Santa Fe) called Harry's Roadhouse.  My stomach called "uncle" and I ordered a Po' Boy Catfish sandwich, then stared longingly at Mary's enchiladas.
Utterly surfeited both visually and gastronomically we headed back to Albuquerque.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rocks Rock! Creative Lives Series - Michael Metcalf, Sculptor

When my youngest daughter was learning to drive, we frequently went out along the dirt roads around Santa Fe to fulfill the hours of driving required to get her drivers' license. There usually were no cars around, only Chamisa, Asters, Jupiter and Pinion trees... and lots of rocks.  Maybe an occasional rabbit.

Brittany laughingly tells of my frequent shouts of "stop".  Not because she was going to hit something, or was going too fast, or any other transgression in her driving skills, but because I had spotted a rock that I wanted.  My sudden exclamations did not, however, get any less startling for her over the course of the weeks we spent on the dusty roads.  

I have always loved rocks.  I remember filling my pockets with them when I was a tiny little girl.  Sifting through the sand at a beach to find just the perfect small rock to take home.  Fantasizing about lifting that boulder out of the Grand Canyon with a helicopter to take home for my garden.  Any future geologist,  should they study sites where I have lived, will be amazed at the sorts of rocks that they find--- completely away from their place of origin.  I haul rocks home in my suitcase from trips out of the country,  or hidden in dry boxes or bags from raft trips.  

I stop along roadways to pick up rocks exposed by excavators.  I have been known to haunt construction sites after dark because of a rock that looked interesting, and I was extremely proud to win a fabulous specimen of a rock in my college geology class at New Mexico State University.  

So it is little wonder that  Michael Metcalf's  sculptures have captured my imagination...

My husband and I were recently in Silver City attending the Gila River Festival.  We traveled with friends, one of whom is an artist, and of course, she and I had to visit all the art galleries we could walk to from our hotel.  Silver City has been experiencing sort of a renaissance in recent years as the mining industry has begun to wind down and retirees are beginning to make this little jewel of a New Mexico town their homes.  At one of the galleries (rivaling anything in the rarefied Santa Fe art scene) I discovered Micheal's work.  The Seedboat Center for the Arts Gallery has a great website here

My friend Vicki,  has a large collection of whimisical folk art which she has collected during her world travels and she purchased several pieces from the gallery.  The Seedboat Gallery is located in an interesting old building with lots of skylights. 

If you are traveling in the southwest corner of New Mexico be sure to stop by and visit.  The owner, Nan Spragens  is very friendly and clearly loves the artists that she represents.  

But back to sculpture.  Michael Metcalf is Chair of the Expressive Arts Department at Western New Mexico University in Silver City.  Here is a bio by the University website.  Michael, like my former teacher Frank McCullough, not only teaches but creates his own accomplished artwork.  If you missed my post about Frank McCullough, click here and find out how I almost got kicked out of student teaching.

This is the one piece that I want...

At the corner of Louisiana and I40
Well rats, it has already been purchased by the City of Albuquerque for their Public Arts Program.  Maybe I could live with this one as well...
Michael Metcalf with his sculpture
Nope, can't have that one either, Albuquerque has snagged it too!  

Okay, third choice, but still available....
And it would fit into my car for the ride from Silver City to Albuquerque.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens

When I was visiting my daughter recently in Colorado, I was very distressed when my husband and I arrived only twenty minutes before closing time at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Following a meeting in Denver which ran late, and having spent about 40 minutes fighting Denver rush hour traffic, we were concerned that I would miss my plane if we lingered, so made the difficult decision to miss this opportunity to see Dale Chihuly's fabulous art glass installation in Denver

When I told my friends about this disappointment, I have been somewhat astounded that so few of my friends know anything about Dale Chihuly, the glass sculptor.  

Maybe because he was born in Tacoma, Washington (one of my very favorite places to live as a child) and worked & taught in Washington state, where my husband and I frequently visit family and close friends, I have been admiring his work for years in art museums and galleries.  
Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass Image Via

I did not, however, miss his show at San Francisco's De Young Museum in 2008.

Chihuly Glass Exhibit at the De Young Museum  Image Via

So today, I thought I would share a few photos from the internet in case you haven't seen his work...

Image Via
If you live in New Mexico, you can travel a couple of hours to Las Vegas to see two Chihuly glass chandeliers installed in the dining room of the United World College housed in the historic Montezuma Castle.  Be sure and call before going to check if they are open for visitors.  For a fascinating "mini tour" of the Castle and its history, visit  In this blog, Kate and Terry chronicle their travels in their Lazy Daze Motorhome and Kate took the following three photos.
United World College, Las Vegas, NM  Image Via
Image Via

 For now, I am contenting myself with this little video of the installation at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Be sure to click on the full screen icon at the bottom  of the black box to the immediate right YouTube icon...

If you want to see more, click on the "Light of Jerusulem" which takes about an hour to watch.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Baby Present

One of my long time friends, Marianna, is so excited to be welcoming her new grandchild into the world on October 13.  The baby's room has been decorated in grey and white stripes with lots of elephants.  Marianna wanted to buy the elephant that my friend Wendy had painted, but it was no longer available.  So here is what I replaced it with...
 This is the first time I have painted an elephant, and it was a lot of fun!  Maybe I will try some other large mammals.  And congratulations to Justin and Natalie as they prepare for the birth of their first child.  May God's blessings and strength surround you.

New Mexico has had some very welcome rain recently and all my painting friends are off running rivers that suddenly have enough water, but here is what they were painting before leaving.
Barb, working on a new painting of sea turtles
Betsy loves pink!

Celia's be-whiskered koi

Barb's beginning
And my love affair with corals.
 I bought these for the last class....

 However, everyone was busy finishing up other paintings, so I was the only one using them as inspiration!  They are still pretty after five days...