Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Artist Susan B. Graham

Desert Rose, from the series “Seeing Color Colorblind.” Image on left as seen by person with normal color vision. Image on right as seen by person (in this case, my son and father) with severe red deficient vision.

My Fate, By Choice, From the series, Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma

“Fruit of Ancient Myths”

Signpost featured artist

All roads lead to here: Susan B. Graham

~Oli Robbins

Photographer Susan B. Graham holds so many accomplishments and degrees, one wonders how many lives she’s lived. Inspiring students, saving lives, delivering children, creating award-winning photography, raising a child—Susan has done it all.

Before mastering digital photography and publishing photo books, Susan enjoyed working as a gynecologist, and before that, an anthropology professor. Her energy, creativity, and enterprise seem never-ending; indeed, she embodies the boundless potential of the human body and mind. Says Susan, “I’ve loved this life, and I did my best to make the most of it.”

Susan’s first career was in anthropology, in which she received a PhD. Teaching at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Susan had many med students who were enrolled in the University’s then-unique medical program that granted medical degrees just six years out of high school.

In Susan’s third year of teaching, the University requested that she teach a seminar in medical anthropology. Says Susan of that class, “the one thing I wanted those students to learn was that physicians treat disease and patients experience illness.” Susan encouraged her students to practice medicine presently, interacting with, and learning about, their patients on a human-to-human basis.

One day, Susan’s prize pupil came to her in tears, crushed by the fact that she had received a “C” in internal medicine from an attending doctor who condemned her for being a friend to her patients. Susan found herself fuming and made a resolution right then, on the spot. Susan could have simply confronted the attending doctor and defended her student, but instead she pledged to go many, many steps further.

She remembers thinking, “Ok, ok, I know what I’m going to do here. I’m going to have to go to medical school, get that credential, and I’m eventually going to outrank those guys because not only will I have an MD degree, I’ll have a PhD too—which those guys didn’t have,” she explains.

Susan immediately began taking the necessary steps to become a medical doctor—all while raising a child and continuing to teach. What began as a somewhat brazen decision made in defiance, ended in a fulfilling career in medicine.

For the next several decades, Susan worked as an OBGYN. Says Susan, “I had fabulous relationships with some of my patients, and I loved what I did.” While she would have enjoyed teaching anthropology on the side, her sometimes one-hundred-hours-per-week schedule was incredibly demanding. Susan and her husband found themselves in Albuquerque when she was granted a residency at UNM.

Susan’s foray into the arts began slowly. She rarely had time to indulge in New Mexico’s extensive art scene, but had always appreciated learning about Navajo rugs, pueblo pottery, and other cultural artifacts while studying anthropology.

Eventually, in 1999, Susan’s longtime interest in roses ended up leading her down a creative and unforeseen path. Visiting that year’s State Fair, Susan went to see the award-winning roses and thought, “I know I have roses that look that good. I’m going to bring some.” She was right, because one of the first roses she entered was prize-winning. Susan still cultivates roses, though her rose garden, now with around sixty glorious bushes, once held a whopping 150.

Susan soon became a judge for horticulture and Rose arrangements, purchasing a lightweight compact digital Nikon camera so she could photograph the roses at each competition. That camera lasted for four years, dying from overuse, and its successor was more complex. She sought help navigating all that her new camera could do and found a class offered through UNM’s continuing education program called “How To Use Your Digital Camera.” But since Susan is a “go-all-in” kind of gal, she opted to learn a bit more, enrolling in the two-year digital photography program. She finished it in just one year, picking up a beginning certificate in web design along the way—while working. “That’s how much I loved it. I stumbled into the perfect program for me,” says Susan.

Susan began photographing maternity, but once she retired from her OBGYN practice, her subject matter expanded greatly. One of her first passion projects was inspired by her color-blind son who, just like Susan’s father, sees no red. Susan had long yearned to see the world as he does, and finally found a way to do so with the help of color theory and technical editing.

Her book, Seeing Color Colorblind, contains 18 diptychs. When a non-colorblind person views one of the diptychs, the two images look vastly different, but when a protanope (person with red deficient vision) views them, they are indistinguishable (see image Desert Rose, printed above). Says Susan, “My son still can’t see my world, but this let me see the world the way he sees it, and it made me very happy to see that his world is a vibrant one.” The book is enlightening for anyone who wishes to further understand the ways in which protanopes see.

While the colorblind series was prompted by a desire to experience the visual world of her son, Susan’s next series—based upon the myth of Persephone—began an examination of herself, and what it means to be a woman in society. Says Susan, “It wasn’t until I finished the Persephone series that I considered myself an artist.”

Susan is currently authoring of a set of guidelines for judging Rose photography for the American Rose Society Rose Shows. She was recently awarded an Honorable Mention for her Persephone photograph “Fruit of Ancient Myths” at the Corrales Fine Arts Show—a show in which she participates and looks forward to yearly. Her photography can be viewed online at, and her short photo essays, Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma and Seeing Color Colorblind, are available on Amazon. Susan’s work will be included in Shades of Gray, the largest black-and-white photography show in the Southwest opening December 3 in the Fine Arts Building at Expo-NM. Susan can be reached at

Winter Solstice candlelight poetry reading

On December 21, at 7:00 p.m., Las Placitas Presbyterian Church will host the twentieth annual Candlelight Poetry Reading, sponsored by the LPPC Earthcare Fellowship. The theme this year is Sonidos—Sounds of Solstice. Come hear the voices of New Mexico poets as they interpret the theme and inspire with their words by candlelight. This is a free annual event; all are welcome.

Sol y Canto

Twogether, by Harriet Neal

Placitas Artists Series presents Sol y Canto

Sol y Canto, a Boston-based ensemble with ties to New Mexico, returns to the Placitas Artists Series in December for an afternoon of original compositions and unique interpretations of contemporary Pan-Latin music.

The concert is at 3:00 p.m. on December 3.

Sol y Canto was founded in 1994 by Brian Amador, who spent much of his childhood in Placitas, and Rosi Amador, of Puerto Rican and Argentinian heritage. The band is a three-time winner of the Boston Music Award and has performed at venues around the U.S., including the Kennedy Center, the White House, and Boston’s Symphony Hall. More locally, they have appeared at Popejoy Hall and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Their last Placitas Artists Series appearance was in October 2010.

Brian (guitar and vocals) and Rosi (lead vocals and percussion) will be joined for this concert by Paul Lieberman on flute, saxophone, and percussion. Their playlist includes Latin American songs from a half-dozen countries, ranging geographically from Mexico to Chile and Argentina, as well as a half-dozen songs composed by Brian Amador. Their selections for this concert will be announced from the stage.

Prior to the concert, a 2:00 p.m. visual artists reception will feature the art of Victoria Mauldin, acrylic; Barbara J. McGuire, watercolor; Harriet Neal, photography; and Stephen Palmer, acrylic. Their works, which are for sale, will be on display through December 29.

The concert and visual artist reception take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible. For ticket information and further details, see page 2 of this Signpost.

Placitas Artists Series projects are supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information call 867-8080, email, or visit

Rio Rancho Youth Chorus presents a winter concert and art show

Rio Rancho Youth Chorus (RRYC) will present “My Favorite Time of Year” on December 2 and 3 at Community of Joy, located at 841 Saratoga Drive in Rio Rancho. RRYC is partnering with Rio Rancho Arts Association to showcase a variety of original art pieces from metal work to oils by local artists. Artworks will be available for viewing and purchasing.

RRYC is a community chorale ensemble for middle school and high school youth and young adults. The Rio Rancho Art Association is a long-standing group of local artists in a variety of media. Tickets are available at The concert begins at 2:00 p.m.; the art show is from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the art show is free.

“Trash to Treasure—Recycled Art” at Placitas Community Library

~Anne Grey Frost

Art-a-morphosis: the process of transforming items destined for the landfill into delightful works of charm and beauty by engaging the skilled hands, artistic sensibilities, and imaginative minds of this group of scrappy Placitas Artists.

Starting on December 2, and open through December 28, the Placitas Community Library Exhibit, “Trash to Treasure—Recycled Art” will feature the work of jewelers, designers, craftspeople, and other free-spirited artists. Drop by and be inspired to reimagine, recycle, and repurpose your thoughtlessly discarded items.

A public reception will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on December 8. Participating artists are Corky and Patty Baron, Karen Cox, Al Davis, Bonnie Hayes, and the “Designing Women” Geri Verble, Sandy Johnson, Julie Fear, Linda Nisenbaum, Linda Davis, Sue Ortiz, Erica Wendel- Oglesby, Lisa Goldman, Annie Gross, and Aquila Stanley.

Tree-lighting, parade, and Santa appearance highlight Bernalillo holidays

~Signpost Staff

Traditions continue in Bernalillo as the town announces its schedule of Christmas events.

  • December 1: Tree-lighting ceremony, 6:00 p.m. in front of Town Hall, 829 S. Camino del Pueblo
  • December 2: Nighttime Christmas Parade, 6:00 p.m. from Camino Escuela heading south on Camino del Pueblo, refreshments and music follows at Rotary Park
  • December 20: Holiday social from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Bernalillo Recreation Center in Rotary Park
  • December 25: Santa visits to hand out goodie bags and pose for pictures, noon-1 p.m., Bernalillo Fire Department behind Town Hall

The town Children’s Toy Fund is still accepting donations of new toys, and money to purchase toys. The toys are to be distributed on December 16 to families that submitted applications by December 1.

Free events at both Rio Rancho libraries: Esther Bone Memorial Library and Loma Colorado Main Library

Many fun, free events will be taking place at Esther Bone Memorial Library and the Loma Colorado Main Library in December. From storytime for kids, to dancing, jamming, knitting, book clubs, think tanks, concerts, reading to dogs, meet and greets, fairy tale readings, hand-bell concerts, toy drives, holiday card making, adult coloring, holiday open houses, reading groups, and more.

The Esther Bone Memorial Library is located at 950 Pinetree Road SE, in Rio Rancho. The Loma Colorado Main Library is located at 755 Loma Colorado Boulevard NE in Rio Rancho.

For more information, dates, and times, call 891-5012 (Esther Bone) or 891-5013 (Loma Colorado), visit, or go to


The shortest day after the longest night has arrived,
two months after a Hunter’s Moon, and a week before
the December Long Night Moon. The dog lies still
next to the warm pot-bellied stove, waiting.
The angle of winter light that dawns across the Borrego Mesa
lends stark shadows to purple-berried juniper and cone-studded piñons,
and calls me to the trail as the sun rises.
All that’s left of the long, long night is the deep chill
of bone, certain footprints of coyote and jackrabbit,
their dark dance evident in the sandy arroyo,
and the cold haunts of air where the sun has yet to shine.
I see my breath, hear the thump of my feet, watch the dog
move in and out as he makes a hunt of our morning.
He flushes bright flashes of blue that fly like sparkled air.
Give me one more year, two more, many more
to take these hills, run these arroyos, watch
the seasons pass as cottonwoods add girth
and piñons their incremental height, here
along the Cañada Ancha, among the barrancas
blessed with moisture, during these drought years.
I hang on, buy a new pair of Brooks, wear them
until my big toe invariably pokes through,
another winter solstice night, and the rest of God’s creatures
chase their own immortality, hunt under whatever winter moon
provides light, follow whatever path takes a track,
snow or sand. All of us hunting another day.

                                —Michelle Holland

[Michelle Holland is one of several poets who will be reading at the Solstice Candlelight Poetry Reading on December 21. See page 29, this Signpost.]

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