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Art in the hills

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Just in time for Mother’s Day, art lovers can roam Placitas’ rolling hills and sweeping vistas for the 21st Annual Studio Tour next weekend.

The free event will showcase the work of 55 artists who will welcome visitors to their homes for a personal look at their artwork.

This year’s tour features baskets, fiber, ceramics, steel, glass, sculpture, mosaics, mixed-media, weaving, folk art, collage, stained glass, wood, jewelry, painting, pottery, photography, paper and quilting at 48 studios.

Pastel artist Meg Leonard spent 30 years visiting New Mexico before moving to Placitas 11 years ago. The studio tour clinched her decision when she discovered the area had become an artistic magnet. She prefers to work with pastels because of their portability. She never works from photographs.

“I enjoy working as quickly as I can, because the light changes to quickly when you’re outside,” she said.

“Beneath, Afternoon at Cabezon” grew from hiking trips she took to the iconic peak with the late sculptor Jim Fish.

“We spent the entire day circling around the Cabezon,” Leonard said.

“It was about what was not seen,” she said. “What really intrigued me was the foreground in shadow. I used different colors and shapes and forms. It’s really what happens beneath the surface.”

The National Park Service recently chose Leonard to be artist-in-residence at Montana’s Glacier National Park in September.

Painter-sculptor Barbara Burzillo turned to art full time when she retired after 36 years in broadcast advertising. She creates abstracted figures in bronze and paints using alcohol ink.

“Artists do play dates together,” Burzillo said. “I was with an artist friend last year, and she had these beautiful cards. It was alcohol ink; it’s like watercolor on steroids.”

Burzillo begins by composing an abstract canvas, then lets the paint dictate the imagery.

“I can see images of landscapes and people within” the paint, she said. The compositions sometimes resemble sheer folds of silken fabric.

Burzillo turned to bronze after struggling with clay, which sometimes exploded in the kiln.

Bronze is permanent and offers the advantage of multiples, she said.

“I don’t have any children, so I kind of consider it my legacy,” she said.

Her current series revolves around fairies.

“One looks at her wings, saying, ‘Do these make my butt look big?’ ” she said. “I want to call these ‘Vanity Faeries.’ ”