This is my third Spirit of a Studio post, and I am grateful to these amazing artists who so generously share their work and their passion with me and my camera.
Welcome to sculptor Star Liana York's studio.
Photos by C. Whitney-Ward
Star moved to Tierra Azul - just on the southern side of Abiquiu - seventeen years ago and she and her artist/designer husband Jeff Brock took acres and acres of land and a 100-year old adobe house and turned them into an artist's sanctuary. There is Star's two-story studio, Jeff's huge barn/studio, their charming one-story home, and a paddock and barn for the horses she raises and trains.
Over the years, the house has been renovated and expanded, but it still retains an intimate, homey feel.
And Star's distinctive work is scattered about the house and around the property.
Her studio is just down from the house, and it was built in this perfect spot to take advantage of the light, and to be near the horses that feed her soul.
"My studio is like a sanctuary for me," says Star, "the moment I step inside I have a different mindset."
The pasture-side of the studio is raised to accommodate loading large finished pieces on their way to be cast in bronze. No pulleys and lifts needed here.
And the inside of the studio is airy and bright, , brimming with clay sculptures in various stages of creation.
Currently she is smitten with bears. "They're a healing spirit animal," explains Star, who is creating a series called The Bear Dialogue.
"Each of my sculptures has a rhytmn of its own. There are pieces that have a 'fast birth' and others evolve slowly. And sometimes I begin a piece and have to get away for awhile. Some pieces just need more thought and time."
And then there is her line of silver jewelry. "I used to create sculptures in miniature," explains Star, "so the transition into making jewelry was a natural."
Star's husband Jeff is also a jewelry designer.
And he designs and builds race cars that are amazing looking and break land speed records at Bonneville to boot. Hence all the vintage cars and parts scattered around the property.
Currently he's working on a very special "sectioned" car created from a vintage 1951-52 Buick Super Series. It's a beauty.
This is Paddy Rawal. He has a very good reason to be all smiles. His newly- opened restaurant RAAGA, has gotten smashing reviews and he is truly living his passion - sharing his exquisite palate and talent for fine Indian cuisine with all of us in Santa Fe. It's a very tasty win win situation.
A native of Bombay, India, Paddy chose a culinary career early on and his first mentor and teacher was his Mother.
"I came from a family of seven and all of us would sit at the table at the same time. Mom would be in the kitchen doing all the cooking; very proud that she was feeding her family. Everything she made was fresh and delicious. One day I decided to cook with her. 'You come and cook with me every Sunday,' she said. And I did. Then one day I told her to sit at the table and I'd do all the cooking."
He was seventeen and discovered that he loved to cook. He went on to culinary school and did everything expected of him and everything not expected of him. "My father always told me, 'whatever you do in life, do it well and with passion,' recalls Paddy, who clearly learned that lesson well.
RAAGA is intimate with a handful of booths and tables, but that's what makes it so fun. You can peek at your "neighbors' table and get a birds eye view of what they're eating, and conversations between complete strangers start up and continue throughout the meal. And the restaurant is always packed with interesting folks. And now that the weather is lovely, the patio is open and inviting...
Now on to the food. It is elegant, delicious and a riot of flavors, celebrating the Northern Indian Cuisine favored by his Mother. And Paddy is truly a wizard of spices. He imports fifty or so different spices and uses them with finesse and purpose.
But, he's also added dishes with a definite New Mexican signature - note the Stuffed Poblano Pepper appetizer on the menu. And the sauce in the ramekin? It is so amazingly delicious, I could order just that and be a very, very happy camper.
I'd slather it all over the wonderful tandoori-baked Naan bread.
That sauce, reveals Paddy, is made fresh daily and is really two sauces. One is a melange of cilantro, green chili, mint, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and sugar.The other is made from tamarind, raw cane sugar, and dates.
The menu features: grilled delights from a clay oven, vegetarian, chicken, lamb and seafood curries, and traditional Biryani dishes (the one below is Paddy's take on a Spanish Paella).
RAAGA serves a delightful and delicious buffet during lunch, a wonderful way to taste what's on the regular menu; the buffet menu changes daily.