Four AS NEW copies signed by both authors, (similar shown below) opened only for signatures by Michele Fitzsimmons and Diane Joy Schmidt, are available for purchase by libraries and museums. Additionally there are five AS NEW unopened copies available, in original cellophane, completely unopened. Additional fine copies, signed. Inquire. Rare hardcover book with dustcover, limited edition, there were only 2,500 copies printed in heliogravure in Alsace Lorraine, Nancy, France by Melrose Publishing, 1985 under the direction of publisher Jeff Dunas. An additional limited edition of 1,500 was printed in soft cover by Braus, Germany.
Michele passed away December 17, 2015. The image “Looking Down on the Wrigley” was chosen to be included in “100 Classic Chicago Photos” City Files Press/Chicago, 2017, a very exclusive set of photographs of Chicago taken by its top art photographers.
Prints available for exhitibion and sale. Prints were made by photographer Diane Schmidt c. 1985 and earlier. Vintage selenium toned on Portriga Rapid Agfa Geveart paper, Vintage prints of some or all images in 7×10, 11×14 and some 16×20, some signed on front by both Michele and Diane, all with photographer’s mark on back, printed by the photographer prior to book publication in 1985. Prints are very limited edition, never made more than a few of each. Inquire to Diane Joy Schmidt, print list. (see Contact form).
A complete portfolio of the 56 images in the book in 16×20 prints is in the collection of the Chicago History Museum, purchase gift of Miriam Schmidt with documentation of value. For the 16×20 prints, only 3 numbered complete sets were made, some extra proof prints remain, and one image, The Drake Hotel Lobby, was also printed in a special edition included in the portfolio, “NAKED.”
The photos have been exhibited internationally. Copies of the book are in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Center for Creative Photography, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and other museums. Articles appeared in Japan, France PHOTO, American Photographer, Popular Photography, and tv and radio appearances, and included in the book “Das Akfoto.” First exhibited Paul Waggoner Gallery, 1981. The project was done at over 60 locations over six years, 1979-1984.
At least one roll of 36 exposures of film shot at most locations, taking up to an hour, Tri-X and later some Pan-X. Later some 35mm color slides shot in Kodachrome. Concept, modeling and text by Michele Fitzsimmons, Photography by Diane Schmidt. Top Ten best seller list, Chicago Tribune, 1985.
Once upon a time there was a rock squirrel named Jacqueline that lived in the desert and was very happy. Jacqueline collected seeds and mesquite beans and cactus fruit and before the winter came she stored Pinon nuts. She was always busy foraging and on the lookout for food. Her senses were sharp, and she jumped and skittered over the rocks all day. Still, there were times when she would go without eating for a day or two. Then, when she came upon a late blooming cactus, she would gorge on the fruit. She drank from the clear stream in the mornings. The regularity of the seasons provided for all her needs.
Then one morning she saw something glinting on the trail ahead of her. It was a collection of unusually tasty seeds inside a strange-looking contraption. She tiptoed very quietly inside to taste the seeds when suddenly the trap door shut. She had been captured by Nora, a young research scientist on her first field assignment. Nora brought her back to the trailer where her lab was set up. Nora was very gentle with Jacqueline and did her best to make her feel comfortable. She taught her to go through a maze to find her kibble and treats, and carefully fed her with great regularity twice a day on what she thought was a balanced diet. Nora gave her lots of computer games to play to keep her mind active, and she had a wheel for exercise.
Jacqueline’s rough fur became glossy and she filled out. But then Jacqueline kept filling out, and getting bigger and bigger. She was not used to eating regularly and staying inside in a box. Also, the food was too salty and very low protein. She grew and grew until she couldn’t fit on her wheel anymore and then she didn’t exercise. She just sat in her corner playing the computer games. Nora thought Jacqueline was one really smart squirrel.
But then one day Nora checked on her and was surprised to find that Jacqueline, the sturdy little rock squirrel, now had really high blood pressure. She also was exhibiting symptoms of diabetes, including fatigue, constant urination, and constant hunger. Then came a day when she noticed that Jacqueline had stopped even playing her computer games and was just watching soap operas. Soon she was having a hard time even following the maze to her kibble and was crying and angry about it because she was so hungry, and even bit Nora.
Nora realized that Jacqueline’s high blood pressure was causing inflammation in her brain, that she was developing vascular dementia.
Nora felt very bad. She said, “If I had known better, I would never have allowed this to happen to you.”
Nora learned there was a neurologist in Albuquerque who for many years has been studying hypertensive rats and has found a drug that stops the inflammation. She was very glad that he has developed a drug to stop the progression of dementia in hypertensive rats and would be able to help her squirrel. And, Nora was very relieved to learn that this was not just a fairy tale, and that in time, there might also be drugs that could help people too.
Gary Rosenberg, MD, is one of the leading researchers in vascular dementia. With his primary research focused on hypertension as a cause of dementia, Dr. Rosenberg says that treating hypertension early on is very important. His research has also focused on early identification of different types of dementia.
Rosenberg, former chair of the neurology department at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, at the request of UNM Chancellor for Health Sciences Paul Roth, MD, is now heading up the new UNM Memory and Aging Center. The center will work to serve the growing population, currently estimated to be 43,000, of people in New Mexico who have some form of dementia. The center has Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Janice Knoepfel, who is an expert on Alzheimer’s disease, and Dr. John Adair, trained in behavioral neurology, to see patients.
Rosenberg is also looking in New Mexico for those people—referred by their doctors—who might be good candidates for his continuing research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where they will receive free MRIs and other tests and possibly be enrolled future drug trials.
And that is good news for Jacqueline the squirrel – and for people too.
The natural foods that we gather on Sukkot may serve to remind us that our diets have changed radically in a very short time over the last century and that we are wise to be eating more unprocessed foods.
A special nod also to ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, author of “The Desert Smells Like Rain,” and to historian and Franciscan friar Kiernan F. McCarthy, for their dedicated work with the Tohono O’odham, Native Americans who reside in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona and who suffer some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world since adopting Western foods and discontinuing their practices of food gathering in the desert.
“A Story for a happier ending,” was first published in the Gallup Independent Oct. 15, 2016, and is based on an article Diane Joy Schmidt wrote for the Fall 2016 New Mexico Jewish Link, “Studies in Dementia Q&A with Dr. Gary Rosenberg,” with support from the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation.
Story and illustration by Diane Joy Schmidt. Winner, Personal Columns (3), Society Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies, 2nd Place, 2017 and Single Poem, NM Press Women, 2nd place, 2017.
The first time I realized that I wasn’t giving myself permission to be here I was 12. I read a line in a poem and practically burst into tears of relief: “You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.” It’s from “Desiderata,” a prose poem written by Max Ehrmann in 1927.
It also feels a little bit like what I recently was instructed is said in Navajo prayers: “I am your child, I am your grandchild, I am one that you made sacrosanct,” said in morning prayers as white corn is being offered to everything that is sacred and divine within the dawn light.
Almost daily I seem to forget to receive unconditional love from the universe — and tense up again. So, this week I was taken aback when a raft of papers fell down from the back of the bookcase I was cleaning. When I bent to pick them up, I found a poem I had written almost a decade ago.
The poem, about a woman who can’t stop apologizing, reminded me that if as children we don’t develop strong self-esteem, we will blame ourselves overmuch for things, and in order not to be punished, or to get a jump on agreeing that we’re wrong, we may apologize too much. Both men and women have these feelings, though studies have shown women tend to feel them more, and verbalize them more often, and then of course apologize for doing so.
In the Jewish tradition we have to feel remorse and find ways to make real heart-felt, satisfying apologies to those we have wronged. During the High Holidays that mark the beginning of the New Year, on Yom Kippur we are required to apologize to God for our sins, and to say “I’m sorry” to those we have hurt and to ask for their forgiveness.
I asked Albuquerque Rabbi Paul Citrin if this was an accurate statement about Jewish tradition, he said yes and added, “There are times we need to make amends and to repair relationships. Then, apologizing makes us better.”
Here is the poem I had written, forgotten about, and found again, which tells me what I can do to find a clearer, more genuine, and more powerful place from which to act in the coming New Year.
There Once Was A Woman Who Was Apologetic
There once was a woman who was apologetic.
She apologized to herself.
She apologized to her husband.
She apologized to her two dogs and to her three cats.
When she went to the market she apologized.
She apologized to the grocer.
She apologized to the baker.
She apologized to the butcher.
When the Sun rose before she did, she tried to apologize to it but it didn’t hear her, while it warmed her face.
When the tide rose and the waves rushed in, she apologized for allowing them to wet her sandals, while her toes delighted in the bubbling froth.
When the moon rose high in the sky, she apologized for not noticing it sooner, but it ignored her, while its beams entered her dreams. And when the stars came out, she tried to apologize to them.
Suddenly a star figure appeared before her, it was Diana, the warrior woman.
“Stop apologizing!” shouted the Star Woman. “You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re doing everything right.”
The woman tried to apologize for apologizing.
“Stop apologizing!” shouted the Star Woman again, and then beside her appeared Orion, the male warrior constellation, who shouted alongside the Star Woman warrior.
The woman once again tried to apologize, for apologizing for apologizing.
Next the constellation Leo the Lion roared alongside them, and then the Big Dipper joined in, who danced joy and wisdom. The woman finally heard them, and,
giving a short slightly sheepish apologetic smile, closed her mouth, didn’t apologize,
didn’t thank them,
didn’t bow, and walked home.
The next day she didn’t apologize to her husband, to her two dogs or to her three cats.
The second day she didn’t apologize to the grocer, the butcher, or the baker,
And at dawn on the third morning she didn’t apologize to the Sun,
At noon she didn’t apologize to the waves,
That evening she didn’t apologize to the moon,
And on the fourth night she certainly didn’t apologize to the stars, and then she finally realized
The Sun still came up, the waves rolled in, the moon came out, and the stars rose and set, whether or not she said anything.
And, as she had nothing left to apologize for, she finally gave a deep sigh, for she was at peace,
and went home and went to bed, as she was quite exhausted,
and she apologized to no one on the way home,
nor when she climbed into bed,
and not even when she went to sleep.
This poem was written Publication record:
Poem written and first published, 1997 The Crystal Cave/International Womens’ Writing Guild, Saratoga Springs, NY, during a workshop, “Writing in the Mythological Voice: Elevating the Mundane into Myth,” led by Natalie Reid, author of The Spiritual Alchemist Poem Matter and Light, Grant County Beat, Aug. 20, 2016 (Illus. “Breeze” photo.
Poem & intro, Spiritual Perspectives, Gallup Independent 9/10/16
Poem, revised & Intro revised, NM Jewish Link, Fall 2016 10/1/16 Poem revised, Intro & Big Dipper Star Woman illustration, Times of Israel Blog, featured for Yom Kippur, 10/8/16
Interview by Diane Joy Schmidt Published NM Jewish Link Fall, 2016 and New America Media, Oct. 10, 2016 Studies on Dementia – Q&A with Dr. Gary Rosenberg
1st place -Health articles New Mexico Press Women, 2017 and HM, National Federation of Press Women, 2017, together with along with Albuquerque: Is it a place where Jews can retire? for NM Link
Gary Rosenberg, MD, one of the country’s leading researchers in vascular dementia and former chair of the neurology department at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, took time after a busy day to sit down and explain for the Link’s readers his latest research in dementia, his work in early identification of types of dementia, the important role of high blood pressure, and other risk factors in vascular disease, the promise of treatments for slowing the disease, and how, at the request of UNM Chancellor for Health Sciences Paul Roth, MD, he is now heading up the new UNM Memory and Aging Center that will work to serve the growing population, currently estimated to be 43,000, of people in New Mexico who have some form of dementia.
Link:What do you do to stay healthy? I think this is something everyone wants to know. Dr. Rosenberg: I try to watch what I eat and to exercise regularly.
Link: First I want to ask you about your research. Dr. R: I have been fortunate to have almost steady funding for research by the National Institutes of Health. My work has focused on diseases that damage blood vessels in the brain, such as strokes and vascular dementia. With the new Center, our group will expand into research and drug studies in Alzheimer’s disease. For the past 10 years the research has been focused on vascular dementia with the goal of developing better ways to diagnose the illness earlier when treatments would be more effective. We are following about 100 patients for multiple years. We use a number of tests to figure out their diagnosis.
Dementia is a general term, like fever, that is related to many different types of problems with thinking, and there is a lot of different things that cause it.
Our research is focused on vascular causes, such as multiple strokes, which is one large group of patients. Another group of patients has a gradual worsening, which we feel is related to reaction by the brain to the blood vessels damaged by hypertension, diabetes, and elevated lipids. We use the term “inflammation” to denote this type of reaction in the brain. The challenge has been to find the group with this gradually worsening inflammatory process.
There are no specific treatments for vascular dementia so we try to control vascular risk factors by lowering elevated blood pressure and treating diabetes, and also by encouraging people to lose weight and take up exercise. For the research studies, we rely on what some call “biomarkers” that suggest an inflammatory process. These come from MRIs, psychological testing, and cerebrospinal fluid studies. Since no one test is diagnostic, we use all of the test results for diagnosis. It takes a long time to collect all this information, by following the patients for several years to make sure the diagnosis is correct. We then can look back at the test results to predict the outcome for a new patient.
So, we can start people on treatment trials before extensive damage to the brain has occurred. Our goal is to find drugs that slow the normal course of the disease.
We are also working in the laboratory with animal models to test new drugs, particularly to block the damage done by high blood pressure. To do this we have a rat that develops hypertension, which we make progress faster by feeding it an awful diet – low protein, high salt – which causes damage to the brain’s blood vessels, and they have the same types of changes in the brain that I see in my patients. And we can give that animal anti-inflammatory drugs and block these changes.
Link: So are these drugs in the animal study ones that are readily available or are they highly specialized? Dr. R: We don’t have a drug yet that we think we can easily translate into people. We have a drug that’s actually an old antibiotic that’s used for acne and it’s an anti-inflammatory and it works well in the animals. There are other drugs being developed at NIH and by drug companies. So although there are some things that are promising, we don’t have a treatment yet.
Link:My family is very long-lived. They probably have this longevity gene that is found among some populations including Ashkenazi Jews. One uncle lived to be 101 with no cognitive issues. Another relative however in their 90’s had strokes and then developed memory loss.
Dr. R: That’s exactly the kind of patient we’re interested in.
Link: So, there are new drugs being developed for this group?
Dr. R: Drug are being developed to block this kind of inflammation. We have a population of patients that could participate in clinical trials when there are drugs available. These gradually worsening patients have a disease called Binswanger’s disease, or sub-cortical ischemic vascular disease. We use biomarkers to select this group of patients.
Link: So how do you go about identifying these biomarkers?
Dr. R: First, we use special tests with MRIs to show that the white matter is damaged. We can visualize the regions of inflammation with a contrast agent that leaks out of the inflamed blood vessels. Then we use cerebrospinal fluid test for two purposes. One is to look for inflammatory factors – things that show the brain is having inflammation, and the other is to separate out those with Alzheimer’s disease. That is very important, because we can’t do that so well clinically. So, we can measure the Alzheimer type proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid and we can say this is an Alzheimer patient. Then we measure the inflammatory factors, and if we say this is an inflammatory process and there’s no Alzheimer factors here, then that suggests that it is a vascular process, which is the patient we are looking for.
Link: So you can separate out the Alzheimer’s patients?
Dr. R: Alzheimer’s patients have a protein called amyloid in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid. It accumulates in the brain in so-called “plaques” and another substance called phosphoTau. Patients with low amyloid and high phosphoTau are likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. To make the diagnoses, we use information from multiple sources, including clinical, cerebrospinal fluid tests, and MRI findings, in addition to neuropsychological testing. With that amount of information, and following the patient for a couple of years, we know which patients we want for different types of treatment.
Link: People whose parents are now losing their memory, they want to know, of course, am I going to be like that too, is it genetic or is it from strokes?
Dr. R: Alzheimer’s disease can be genetic in some patients with early onset of the disease. Vascular causes of dementia are not clearly genetic, but some families have a tendency for blood vessel disease of the heart and brain.
Link: What led to the development of a new center?
Dr. R: This January, Paul Roth, the medical center chancellor asked me to start a center, which we named the UNM Memory and Aging Center. The purpose was to improve care for the large number of patients in the state with thinking problems. In addition to myself, Janice Knoefel, who is an expert on Alzheimer’s disease, and John Adair, who’s trained in behavioral neurology, see patients in the Center. He is at the VA and at the university.
This is the first center for treatment of people with cognitive disorders in New Mexico. We estimate that there are almost 40,000 people with dementia and we will be the only place with dementia specialists in the state.
And it’s even worse than that when you look at it geographically; right now in the United States there are 31 Alzheimer’s centers funded by the National Institute of Aging and these centers are mainly on the coasts with none in the Rocky Mountain states. It was clear that there was a need for such a center and Chancellor Roth recognized that this was important for the state. Now we’ll be able to see a lot more patients, we’ll be able to expand our clinics and research programs and improve teaching.
Link: What about costs to the patient?
Dr. R: Medicare and Medicaid covers most of the costs. When they come into one of our studies, the MRIs, the blood tests, the spinal fluid analysis, is paid for by NIH
Link: Would somebody with Parkinson’s be a patient you would see?
Dr. R: Approximately 50% of people with Parkinson’s have some kind of mental impairment. Some people who have Parkinson’s have behavioral problems, such as agitation and hallucinations. A new drug has been approved by the FDA to treat those symptoms. So a trial will be started with that drug to treat those sort of symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients.
Link: If I want to go online and see, well, am I losing my mind, is there a website test I can take?
Dr. R: I think more trouble is caused by the worry created by these searches. It is best if you are concerned to start with your family doctor. They can help rule out thyroid disease, B12 deficiency, congestive heart failure, and a number of other diseases that could cause memory problems. Once they have eliminated those, then we can see them for further evaluation.
Link: For the Jewish community here, many people moved here from the coasts or the Midwest.
Dr. R: It’s a price you pay for that early decision. By moving you often loss your support team.
Link: Is it measurable, having a social network?
Dr. R: Yes, there are studies that show that card playing, regular exercise, using the computer, reading, a good social network, all slow memory loss. You don’t necessarily need to have an intimate family, but a group of supportive friends can compensate. The ideal thing would be for people who live alone to build communities, to build houses close to each other, apartment complexes.
Link: What direction would you like to see the research go?
Dr. R: The focus for most of the dementia research has been Alzheimer’s disease for the last 25 years, and particularly what’s called the amyloid theory, but the recent studies have not supported that. So NIH now is looking at the connection between vascular disease and the Alzheimer-type process.
If you have vascular disease it accelerates the Alzheimer process and that’s been pretty well shown in a large number studies. So they’re focusing more on reducing vascular risk factors. We know that if you have hypertension at age 40, by the time you are 60, your brain is seven years older than someone who doesn’t have hypertension. All those years of hypertension have damaged the small blood vessels in the brain…
Link: So what about people with diabetes?
Dr. R: Diabetes is a major vascular risk factor, similar to hypertension. If you have diabetes it can interfere with kidney function, which causes blood pressure to go up, so it’s rare to have one and not the other.
Link: And a growing percentage of the population is obese.
Dr. R.: It’s an epidemic. The connection between obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease is not so clear. There seems to be a connection, but it is not as straightforward as hypertension.
Link: I know doctors say one of the biggest problems they have is, how do you change people’s behaviors?
Dr. R: Treatment for hypertension has greatly improved, but not enough people are being treated.
Link: Where is the UNM Memory and Aging Center located and how can a patient be referred?
Dr. R: We are part of the Clinical Neuroscience Center at the University of New Mexico Hospital. Patients can be referred by making an appointment in the Memory and Aging Center in the Clinical Neuroscience Center. Our research center is in the Domenici Hall north of the medical school on Yale next to the golf course. We will soon have a Web site that will allow a patient to make an appointment directly.
Diane Joy Schmidt wrote this article with support from the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation.
EVELYN ROSENBERG AND HER EXPLOSIVE ART
Humankind saw the power of the intricate forces of nature unleashed when scientists detonated the first atomic bomb at Trinity, New Mexico. Sometimes it takes an artist to wake us from the mundane to see this miracle of existence constantly unfolding all around us. Many of the large scale metal sculptures in public spaces in New Mexico were made by such an artist, a force of nature unto herself, internationally known Albuquerque artist Evelyn Rosenberg. Her husband, Gary Rosenberg, MD, directs the University of New Mexico’s Memory and Aging Center. Read his Q&A, Studies on Dementia, here. A petite woman with a beauty that radiates from an internal confidence and with looks reminiscent of Barbara Streisand, Rosenberg makes art using plastic explosives. The technique, “detonography,” which she developed in the desert at Socorro’s NM Tech lab for explosives after meeting an Israeli explosives engineer, melds the force of the detonation with the principles of print-making to bring forth, in a thunderous micro-second, works of surprisingly delicate beauty and strength.
As she explained on ABC’s Nightline series “American Originals” a while back to Cokie Roberts, she said, “The explosive is acting like a giant stamping press, and it’s stamping the metal into the mold. The metal forms over the mold, and gives it this three dimensional effect. Any object that’s laid on the top of the metal plate and between the explosive and the plate will transfer its image to the plate, so anything even as delicate as a feather will transfer its image onto the plate. That’s very magical.”
Now, in our interview, she discusses the fifty-year arc of her work, which has led to the enormous metal sculptures in Albuquerque in front of the Metro Courthouse, at the Sunport, at Valencia and Roswell university campuses, in Santa Fe at the planetarium, and at many other public spaces around the country and the world.
Approaching the studio doors, one feels about to enter a temple. The intimate self-portraits that hang in her home and spacious studio in the North Valley strongly emanate the power and intensity of this explosive process through this most personal image of the female. They sparked a discussion of mythology, feminism, Judaism and the challenges of aging as a sculptor.
Link: Was blowing things up a logical progression from what you were doing? ER: I was studying Comparative Religion at Hebrew University. I used to like to draw when I was a kid, so I started going to drawing classes, and then I said, ‘This is all so much better than sitting in the library!’ so I decided that I wanted to study art.
I went back to the U.S., got married, went to Columbia for a year, and then to RIT, Rochester Institute of Technology, where I was doing printmaking. This was during the Vietnam war. They were drafting all the doctors, and Gary got drafted. (see companion profile of neurologist Gary Rosenberg, MD). He had just finished his internship at Rochester, and he was sent to Sandia Base here, which was tremendously lucky. So, I went to UNM to study printmaking and I got a masters in lithography.
Link: Do you think that you would have been able to have the success that you have had, if you were starting out today? ER: When I started out, they didn’t want to let me into the graduate program in lithography here, they told me, “You’d better take some economics and business courses because you’ll never get a job as a printmaker. You’ll probably have to work in a gallery.” You wouldn’t be able to say that today.
Link: So did you go home and cry? ER: No, I just said, “I want to do it. I’m stronger than some of those skinny boys there.” Those [lithography] stones – you pick them up on a lift, and then you push them – but everything I do is heavy – twice a week I do weightlifting.
Evelyn explained that from New Mexico they went to Israel, where she taught art at the University of Haifa, and then to New York. While Gary finished his residency in neurology at Albert Einstein School of Medicine, she taught art at Montclair University in New Jersey. They liked New Mexico and when Gary was offered a position in the neurology department at the University of New Mexico with a lab and technician, they returned and have been here ever since, since about 1979.
Link: Does your detonography work have something to do with being Jewish? ER: I did a series of 18 prints of the story of Joseph and his brothers, and Rabbi Paul Citrin wrote a commentary for it. It was sent in a traveling show to all the Jewish museums in the country. So I did pursue Jewish themes, I did paintings with Jewish themes, because I was interested in mythology, comparative religion, and biblical stories. But, the work that I’m doing now on commission doesn’t, it has mythological content, though it probably reflects Jewish themes.
I worked for two years as an artist in the schools and I made murals. That was a great National Endowment for the Arts program they don’t have anymore, and so I got excited about making big things, but then I went back to making prints. With the money I earned from that I bought a press, I was doing etchings.
Link: Then something changed? ER: Gideon Sivan came to New Mexico in 1985. He was an explosives engineer who worked at the explosives center in Haifa, Israel where he designed special tank armor for the Israeli army that exploded on contact. He came here to the EMRTC, the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at New Mexico Tech, on a sabbatical and he wanted to do something fun with a phenomenon known as the “Munroe effect.”
He had this idea you could make art using explosives but he needed an artist to work with. Through what you’d call Jewish geography, he heard there was a similarity between the way the things he was doing with the explosives looked and my etching plates. He came over one night, and we started talking. He asked if I wanted to blow something up, I said ‘Sure, sounds great!’
I started to work with him. After about three months he went back to Israel, but the head of the center was a very innovative guy from the Nitro-Nobel Institute in Sweden. He asked if I wanted to keep working on this. So, I taught a class on the history of the technology of art, because it was an engineering school. It was a pretty interesting class. I taught for a couple of semesters while I was developing this process. Once I had the process developed, then I started to make pieces and I stopped teaching.
In her recently published book “Detonography, The Explosive Art of Evelyn Rosenberg” (University of New Mexico Press, 2013) Evelyn writes about that class, “I wanted them to understand that it was only the romanticism of the 19th century that had transformed the image of the artist into a kind of mad genius who works alone. [. . .] I started the class by asking the students to carve a stone with a stone. . .”
In addition to the explosion itself, is there a kind of alchemical process that happens? ER: Yes. I think it’s a very feminine technique because it’s like having a child. You have these messy, destructive, painful, horrible things happening, and then you get these beautiful delicate objects, I think these things, they look very delicate. They don’t look like they’ve been blown up. They’re refined. So it’s like life. (she gives a light, ironic laugh)
Link: Looking at the self-portraits that are here, which came first?ER: The earliest is “Gemini”. The lion with wings came next. That was done as part of a four-part series which is now at the university campus in Roswell.
Then this one here (hanging in the studio), “The Sorceress’s Dream,” I did about three years ago. The last one (on the outside wall), which has a religious theme, is called “The Goddess Hides Herself.” It’s the goddess posing as male gods, God the father, Buddha, until she can reveal herself in the universe.
Link: “The Sorceress’s Dream” seems the most daring somehow to me, the most powerful in the way that it’s not literal, it’s not obvious. Do you see that one as different? ER: No. I’m repeating the same themes over and over again, these mythological themes, and the search for some kind of spiritual meaning outside of nontraditional religious forms. I consider myself very Jewish in the sense that both my kids had Jewish weddings. Even though they married non-Jews, they’re bringing up their children Jewish.
Link: I see something different in “The Sorceress’s Dream.” ER: I like this idea of disguise, hidden identities. She has a mask like a butterfly mask.
L: Rabbi Gershon Winkler once said if you look at, the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” that in the early Aramaic, it was, ‘put no other face on my face, a deeper way of saying ‘don’t make a graven image of what I am.’
ER: He was very good, he was amazing, I still get his newsletters.(www.walkingstick.org).
Link: Another thing about “The Sorceress’s Dream” – you’re not making yourself beautiful, there’s an aging issue. You’re looking at yourself in a different way then you did in the lioness picture. And you are wearing some sort of dress? ER- it’s a sequined dress that I got from a thrift shop because I’m always looking for materials.
Link: Your power is different than in the lioness one, don’t you think there’s a change?
ER: I like the idea — I have not thought about it at all. That is true that the lioness is a much more sexual creature than this sorceress. “The Goddess Hides Herself” was a kind of comment on religion. The female principle has been suppressed by the male gods of the world, but the female principle is waiting to reemerge and to be the controlling factor in the world. If the world is to survive, I think, if the earth is going to survive, we’ve got to get rid of all those male suppressors of nature [side discussion of upcoming presidential election].
Link: So you are saying the explosives part is masculine, but the result is very feminine? ER: No, no, it’s not masculine, I don’t see it as a masculine thing. I see it as the forces of nature, which can be terrible and devastating, but can also create a flower or a butterfly, or a piece of art.
Link: Now that you been an artist as long as you have, some fifty years — ER: What I do is physically demanding, so that who knows, maybe [eventually] I’ll have to work with watercolors. But watercolors are the hardest thing of all because you can’t make mistakes. I assume that I will always continue to be an artist and that if I have to, I will have more assistants. Louise Nevelson worked into her 80s on very large sculptural pieces.
I worked with the last assistant for 12 years, and he’s now starting to go out on his own, he’s very good. I just got a new assistant six months ago. She just graduated from CNM as a certified welder, and she’s also good.
Link: You think somebody in their 60s could decide to become an artist?
ER: You know Michaela Karni? She was a writer. Then she started painting, very late, just in the last five years or so. She wrote romance novels and some mysteries and then she just started painting. Now she’s really good, she works all day at it, and she’s very serious about her work. She’s in her mid-70s. Artists get better with age. Titian got better in his 80s, he was doing great stuff. It’s a skill, maybe your inspiration is not as fresh, but your skill level increases.
Two of Rosenberg’s works, including the lioness with wings, titled as “Ezekiel’s Vision,” will be in a special exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art, “Jews in Twentieth Century Albuquerque: Building Community Along the Rio Grande,” November 19 through April 2, 2017. View more at her website www.evelynrosenberg.com, including photos of Rosenberg’s large scale public works with a map of their locations, films of her and her explosive technique, further explanation of it, and a link to her book.
Diane Joy Schmidt wrote this article with support from the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation.
New Mexico Jewish Link Fall, 2016 v. 46 no. 3
Interview and Photographs by Diane Joy Schmidt First Place, 2017 Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies, Arts & Entertainment Profile. Judge’s comment: “Fascinating subject, fascinating subject matter. This was an excellent interview that went down so many paths, took so many twists and turns, and ultimately led to a truly memorable profile.” First Place, 2017 New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest, Two Arts Previews, along with “Fractured Faiths: Ground-breaking and controversial exhibit.” 3rd Place, National Federation of Press Women, Arts previews Diane Joy Schmidt wrote this article with support from the Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, sponsored by the Retirement Research Foundation. Also published at