Four Local Treasures

I’m delighted and excited to announce that the Albuquerque Art Business Association (AABA) has bestowed upon me the prestigious honor of being a 2019 “Local Treasure” designee. Each year, the AABA honors local artists who represent our diverse art scene and give back to their community. All of these individuals are tremendously accomplished and make a huge difference in our community in a diversity of ways, and it is a tremendous honor to have my name included amongst theirs.

It was actually my husband who submitted my name (unbeknownst to me) for consideration. Here is the letter he sent to them:

Stefan Chakerian Manager, Ghostwolf Gallery, Albuquerque

AABA Local Treasures Committee

Four “Local Treasures” (left to right) Amy M. Ditto (2019), Roe LiBretto (2018), Laura Wacha (2015), Denise Weaver Ross (2018)

I am nominating Amy M. Ditto (coincidentally, my wife) as a Local Treasure. Most know her for her punchy, vivid digital art photography prints on infused aluminum and as the owner/curator of Ghostwolf Gallery. Amy opened Ghostwolf in 2016 to provide not just a home for her art, but also a home for many like-minded artists at various stages of their careers. Amy believed Albuquerque’s art scene was falling in a rut, with a lot of recycling of Southwest themes and not enough new vision, leaving few opportunities for good artists to otherwise show their edgier works and for talented younger artists to have an encouraging, friendly space that challenged them to push further with their art. The result is Ghostwolf Gallery which features a diverse group of artists, including Amy, utilizing a variety of media. I believe Ghostwolf also helps viewers overcome their own preconceptions on “what is art?” by exposing them to many different styles and media in one space. Ghostwolf has won two city-wide readers choice awards in the two years it has been open. Locals repeatedly visit the gallery to see what is new, especially on the ArtsCrawl events.

Amy has also produced several shows at the gallery, including Women’s Work, celebrating the efforts of women artists, and Wild!, which helps support Defenders of Wildlife non-profit organization. Women’s Work has been praised in the Albuquerque Journal, and this year some five dozen local artists submitted nearly 200 works which Amy juried to construct a phenomenal show that was not only outstanding with each individual work, but breathtakingly gestalt in the full presentation of the show itself.

Running a gallery while being an artist takes up most of Amy’s time, and she is not compensated for her gallery work which helps over a dozen artists have a place to call home. Fortunately, her art sells reasonably well, and she’s becoming known throughout the state. She is one of the earliest local artists to diversify into the (then relatively new) infused aluminum printing technique, tailoring her heavily stylized digital works specifically for that medium and taking full advantage of the enhanced color, high contrast, and specific subtleties of the medium. One of her most popular pieces (“Dia de Los Moo-uertos”, a cow skull over marigolds) was requested, unsolicited, to be the poster/t-shirt art for the Rio Grande Art Festival, which also won an honorable mention in a national competition of poster art for juried art shows, in Sunshine Artist Magazine.

One of our younger sculptors was asked to show in Santa Fe, and leveraged that into doing art installations at Meow Wolf (no relation). But Amy also promotes other art organizations, such as volunteer social media manager for the Annual NM Photographic Arts Show (ANMPAS) and the Corrales Society of Artists (CSA). She was also the Vice President of CSA for several years. She regularly volunteers as a judge for the annual METRO Art Show for Albuquerque Public Schools, offering critiques and juror awards to the next generation of Albuquerque artists.

Her CV in art is extraordinary over the past ten years – besides the volunteer work and poster artist mentioned, she’s also won awards from jurors Patrick Nagatani and Regina Held. She’s been featured at the Popejoy Benefactor’s Lounge twice. And her university background is just as extraordinary with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Doctorate in Evolutionary Biology from UNM.

But these accolades, incredible as they are, are just accolades. More importantly, Amy is incredibly creative, inspirational, and dependable. Like all brilliant

artists, she certainly has her quirks but her decisions always boil down to “what is best for everyone in the long run?”, occasionally at the expense of her own happiness. She has helped me through particularly rough patches, including an extended stint when I was out of work in the economic downturn which NM has only started recovering from. When I opened a studio for commercial photography, she supported us in the time to get it going, and also for my training in the burgeoning film industry. She has helped me get where I am, and I know the same is true for other artists she works with.

I genuinely believe Amy loves what she does and is playing the long game to benefit all artists in Albuquerque, and the art field in general. However, her time and mental commitments to her role as gallery owner compete with her ability to move forward herself as an artist, not just in time, but status as artist vs gallery owner. The Local Treasures program is one of those areas where she cannot easily speak for herself, leaving that honor out of reach to Amy the artist. As manager of Ghostwolf Gallery, I ask the committee to consider her for this prestigious award.

I hope after reviewing this introduction and the materials I am sending you will agree that Amy the Artist and Amy the Gallery Owner are both deserving of this special honor, so conveniently combined as one person she is especially deserving. But she also spoke of sending in an application for one of Ghostwolf’s represented artists – she is unaware that I am nominating her. I do not want to detract from that application, and I hope that the committee will consider both nominations with equal care and consider awarding both artists. Each woman brings something valuable to the Albuquerque art scene, and each is more than deserving.

Thank you for your consideration,

Stefan Chakerian