Farmington Fuel revelingin CMWS experience

Note: This story was originally published in the Farmington Daily Times, and can be viewed here. Photo by Matt Hollinshead of the Daily Times. 

FARMINGTON – The Farmington Fuel’s first-ever Connie Mack World Series experience is quickly becoming one for the ages.

Just like it did during its City Tournament championship run, the Fuel continues to battle — and thrive — on the big stage.

And after winning its CMWS debut, a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Colton Nighthawks on Monday night at Ricketts Park, this team looks to keep pushing its limits.

But even if they play the iconic event for each of the next 14 years, the chances are slim that they would win again like they did Monday night at Ricketts Park.

“This team, they just battle through anything,” said Fuel pitcher Dawson Merryman, who threw 3 2/3 critical innings in relief. “They believe they can do it. They want to be here, and they want to do it.”

Down 3-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the Fuel looked for some magic. After Cade Acrey and Danny Carpenter both reached base to start the rally, the Fuel seized its chance.

Cameron Stephenson put the ball in play for Farmington with runners on first and second, but the Nighthawks’ third baseman threw the ball to a Nighthawk-less first base.

The crowd erupted as the ball rolled away, and Carpenter fed off that atmosphere and energy from the crowd as he dashed home all the way from first.

“It’s just the fans and the crowd, the experience of being here is amazing. I’ve never experienced something like this, it’s just an atmosphere that’s unexplainable,” Merryman said.

The Fuel last played on July 21, when it beat Flat Bill in the City Tournament finals to earn its golden ticket to the CMWS.

With its first-ever CMWS win in the books, they hope more wins soon follow.

“We know we have an uphill battle, but we have a lot of great kids,” coach Kim Carpenter said. “We have a lot of heart, so we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to fight as hard we as can.”

David Lynch is a digital producer at KOB4 in Albuquerque. He can be reached via Twitter at @RealDavidLynch.



Connie Mack World Series coverage (Video)

A video package shot for the Farmington Daily Times at the Connie Mack World Series, between D-BAT and Lamorinda.


Another package shot for the Daily Times, for a game between the Dallas Tigers and hometown Farmington Fuel.



The truth is out there

Note: This story was first published in the Albuquerque Journal, and can be viewed here. 


By David Lynch

Just before 11 a.m. on July 5, 2018, Candelaria “Candy” Ruiz walked across a crater about an hour and a half’s drive from Roswell in southeastern New Mexico to find some shade.

She settled under a small tree at the crater’s edge and watched as a small group walked around the remote area, which, on this day, compensated for its lack of cell service with multitudes of historical significance and wonder. Continue reading →

UNM plan seeking to revolutionize general education program receives big endorsement

By David Lynch

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A UNM report which recommends enhancing the university’s core curriculum and general education initiative as a whole cleared a major hurdle Tuesday afternoon in the form of a near-unanimous endorsement from Faculty Senate members.

The report was created by the General Education Task Force – commissioned by the Faculty Senate in late 2016 – as a response to 2017 legislation that seeks to streamline the credit-transfer process for higher-ed students in New Mexico.

“We saw this as an opportunity to revitalize the general education program; the core curriculum that we already offer,” said Pamela Cheek, interim associate provost for curriculum at UNM, and the original chair of the task force. Continue reading →

Hundreds fill Civic Plaza in support of undocumented students, DACA policy following announcement it would be “rescinded”

By David Lynch

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Now faced with the very real possibility that some of their friends, family or even themselves will lose some of the benefits they were granted under the DACA policy, hundreds flocked to Civic Plaza in downtown Albuquerque Tuesday afternoon in a show of solidarity.

Supporters of all ages and demographics – from UNM professors to high school students to retired citizens – were on hand for the rally, organized by the New Mexico Dream Team. It followed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ official announcement that the Donald Trump administration was going to rescind DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, affecting nearly 800,000 children and young adults across the country who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age. Continue reading →

A Snapshot in Time: Local Photo Group Celebrates 10 Years

This story first appeared in the ABQ Free Press, and can be viewed here.

Local photo group reflects on 10 years of creating art.

It’s a cluttered room. A red light outside – the kind that suggests deeply mechanical processes at play – marks the front door. A bicycle hangs above the entrance. Inside is a crowded mess of people and equipment: It’s a bit overwhelming, and seemingly haphazard.

And yet, the work produced here is nothing short of exquisite.

Outside, photographers Rip Williams and Mark Lies discuss the most readily accessible solution on hand to create an effect to denote a tractor beam being emitted from a spaceship overhead.

Creativity and collaboration are two core values of Guerrilla Photo Group.

“Would the most powerful alien beam that we have be –” Lies begins.

“The 1600,” Williams finishes, suggesting a piece of equipment bright enough to turn night into day.

“And in full power, with a 10-degree stem … would it look like a beam?”


But Lies isn’t done. He needs his idea to come to life, to manifest itself.

“Would you have anything that would look like a beam?” Lies asks.

The two contemplate, some more photography equipment lingo is tossed around, then Williams suggests something unexpected, but utterly appropriate.

“Just do it with a flashlight,” he suggests. “A flashlight would be the narrowest beam you’re going to get.”

That’ll work. After all, Lies is already holding a silver vegetable steamer to stand in as the flying saucer. Even the Guerrilla Photo Group’s Photographer of the Year has to improvise.

This exchange, on a microcosmic level, is what GPG – officially 10 years strong – is all about: collaborating in bringing creative concepts to life in an environment where, although it’s an essential value of GPG, “education” almost seems like too formal a word to describe it all.

“Some people really gravitate toward teaching the skillset that they know, and some people really gravitate toward organizing things like the art committee and putting together the art exhibitions,” said Williams, the founder of Guerrilla Photo Group. “It gives everybody a spot, something to participate in.”

Group Values

Williams, who worked for many years as a marketer of big-name liquor brands such as Bacardi and Samuel Adams, said he began the group in 2006 on ideals of mentorship, networking, collaboration and exhibition.

While GPG has remained faithful to those core values over the last decade, it has simultaneously functioned on the concept that each role in the photography process is equally important. In that spirit, the photographers are considered as vital as the models, as the makeup artists, as the hair stylists and clothing designers.

Five specific “portions of the community that we serve,” Williams said, manifest in GPG’s logo – a five-pointed star modeled after the moving shutter of a camera.

And they’re not mutually exclusive within group; it’s common for professionals of one area to become enticed amateurs in another, devoting their time and creative energy to a different aspect of the process.

Annalee Davey, who started out as a model with the group, said she eventually picked up a camera and “hasn’t put it down since.”

It’s a common sentiment echoed by the group’s active members: not only has GPG allowed them to express their creativity, using their talents in the process, but it’s offered the opportunity of exploring other avenues of photographic creation.

“The last show that we put on, I actually did makeup,” Davey said, and added that she still models for the group as well.

“I don’t prefer to model, but people ask me and I say yes because this group has helped me build a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities,” she said. “I’ve pushed myself, and Rip has pushed me to push myself.”

GPG’s five-pointed logo is, as shown by Davey’s experience, perfectly representative of the group and the experiences that can be had by participating in it. No one point on the star is greater or lesser than the others; they work in tandem, just like the different niches filled by GPG members who work to produce eye-catching photographs.

Too often, Williams said, it’s the photographers and models who have the moment of inspiration for a shoot, which they fine-tune and formulate deeper. Only after that are hair stylists and makeup artists brought in to help bring the concept to life.

Turning 10

The group’s recent 10th Anniversary Show, which was on display at the Albuquerque Press Club, turned that concept on its head.

In addition to providing an intimate look at the group and its members, the exhibit emphasized the group of artists whose work is just an integral to photography as the models and photographers themselves.

And the exhibit wasn’t shy about the unorthodox manner in which the works were created – it’s right there in the name.

“What we did was say, ‘We don’t want any of that. Only the makeup artists and hair stylists, you guys drive the creative, come up with what you want to do, and then you build the team of photographers and models,’” Williams said.  “So we made the show About Face wholly predicated on the concept of makeup artists themselves and the hair stylists themselves.”

The group – about 60 active members strong at this point – is made up of individuals of varying skill levels and measures of experience.

But it’s GPG’s warm embrace of anyone checking out the group for the first time that is also a large part of its having lasted 10 years.

“I literally typed ‘Albuquerque photography club’ into Google, and they were the first hit,” Lies said. “So I came here.”

Lies, who attended his first GPG meeting before officially calling himself a New Mexico resident, said beyond the work he saw on the group’s website, it was the camaraderie on display that also caught his eye, a more spontaneous form of art in itself.

Those first impressions drew him to start participating in GPG, and a little more than a year after joining a photography group with not much more than “the basics I knew since I was a little kid,” his work is being exhibited in public shows, alongside works of other members.

He never thought he would reach that point, he said.

“I just thought, ‘This looks like fun, I’m going to do it,’” he said.

A Family Feel

It certainly doesn’t hurt the group that it is situated in a diverse, culturally vibrant metropolis, an easy 30-minute drive away from Santa Fe, which many consider to be the arts capital of the country – and some, the world.

The city’s diverse community of artists has helped keep things at GPG interesting, with some participants exploring a new, artistic side of themselves that they may not have been exposed to before, including dancers and athletes.

“And we maintain a very strong social aspect as well,” Williams said as he held up a glass of beer that was brought out to him just minutes before.  “We have a good time in and out of the studio. We enjoy it. It’s supposed to be a little bohemian, a little subversive, a lot fun.”

That isn’t to say the group hasn’t evolved in its decade of existence. Building up a core group of members who continue to hone and fine-tune their skills, it was inevitable that some of the work produced through the group started to get some exposure.

GPG has in recent years begun to emphasize exhibitions: how to organize one and prepare pieces for it, all the way down to negotiating a location.

“It’s really kind of closing the loop on the rest of photography, the rest of that process,” Williams said.  “We’ve evolved in all those processes, technically speaking, but I think the core values are still the same, like ‘let’s get together and do something fun.’”

That is, after all, how he became interested at an early age, running around shooting whatever he could in the “old ‘60s metal-body film camera” his dad had gifted him.

Eventually, that lifelong interest turned into his desire to create GPG – a place where creative minds could discuss how to bring their ideas to fruition over a beer on weekday evenings.

“I’ve always liked the idea of collaboration. I’ve always like the idea of working with people on projects, working with people in art,” Williams said. “It just sort of evolved out of the things I enjoyed and the peer group that I had.”

Public Visibility

Shawna Cory, who has been with the group since 2008, still finds immense satisfaction in the aspect of the GPG that lies in expressing ideas within an environment completely closed off to any kind of underlying burden that may influence the final product.

Cory serves as Chair of the Art Committee, the kind of formal, business-like title she might normally feel uncomfortable holding.

But not in GPG, where it’s practically a family.

“I do this totally for the love,” she said. “It’s so rewarding to watch people grow and create amazing things. It’s so much fun to be in this constantly creative environment with all these amazing people.”

Especially for people who have little to no experience with any aspect of photography, GPG – with its passionate members, pressure-free environment and abundance of talent and imagination on hand – provides an avenue to potentially be introduced to something that might occupy a sizeable, but desired, part of one’s life.

“When people are able to just kind of go in and screw around a little bit, happy accidents are likely to happen,” Cory said.

Although Williams said that, 10 years into GPG’s life and 60 members strong, there has been discussion about potentially reaching deeper into the local collaborative arts community, there’s no pressure to turn it into something it isn’t, because what it is “just keeps getting better.”

At its core, it’s Guerrilla Photo Group’s intersectional nature that continues to draw artists – some of whom may not even think if themselves as such just yet.

“The specific mix in the environment we’ve created is attractive to all sorts of different people who might not otherwise spend time with one another,” he said, “People who are all artists in their own right and their owns ways who can link up, not to this specific common interest of photography necessarily, but the specific common interest of collaboration.”

For more information on Guerrilla Photo Group, visit

Continue reading →

Meet Our Cover Artist: Anabel Martinez

This story first appeared in the ABQ Free Press, and can be viewed here.

Local Artist Inspired by the Fantastic

There are certain qualities of sci-fi and fantasy that Anabel Martinez said really connect with her as an individual: Science fiction’s creativity in answering “what if?” and exploring vast spaces beyond what we’re accustomed to. Fantasy’s nature and legends, tethered to its dark roots.

They’re a pair of genres in which there is no limit to what the imagination can conjure up, whether it is something totally new or a personal spin on the familiar. These limitless creative avenues drive Martinez to make sci-fi and dark fantasy the focus of her art.


“I think both kind of speak to me,” she said, having physically manifested that sentiment in her work.

Martinez, who said she’s always been especially fascinated by the fantasy stories of different cultures, attended CNM for graphic design. It was there that her hobby of drawing digitally “kicked off,” and where she was exposed to the endless possibilities of computer-produced art, a hobby that’s become her own contemporary sci-fi trope of imaginative exploration.

Later, it would also become the foundation for her day job.

All’s Fair in Love and Cosplay

Martinez is now a full-time graphic designer living in Phoenix, even selling some of her original works in various forms. That came about through a deal of sorts with her husband, who is heavily involved in art of a different sort: cosplay.

“I’d always been pushing him [saying], ‘Look, people sell cosplay stuff at comic-con, you should do it too,’” she said. “His deal was that if he did that, he wanted me to sell some of my artwork as well. So we kind of motivated each other to not just do it as a hobby.”

Martinez said she especially likes how sci-fi and fantasy allow her to experiment with color, something that is evident when observing her work. In fact, color has to be a part of the process from the start.

“Some artists work a lot with black and white and they add the color afterward, but I just work straight with the color from the get-go,” she said.

Fantasy inspiration

While Martinez works to make her art all her own, she is influenced by existing stories and franchises. She said there are mannequins set up in her living room, some sporting outfits from video games like “Dragon Age” and films like “Aliens,” so inspiration is always present.

“A lot of my creations have been based on other works or characters,” she said, citing her imagination was only pushed further once she got into videogaming, specifically the vast “Mass Effect” universe. “I had to learn to have a balancing act of respecting the character as well as putting my own spin on it.”

Learning how to consistently accomplish that balance – whether for commissioned work or her own personal creations – is something that has gotten easier the more work she’s produced. But Martinez acknowledged that she sometimes has to put her work down and return to it later.

For someone fascinated by the possibilities of the unknown, Martinez’s art provides her own universe to return to and continually shape, where she can keep testing her own limits and continually find answers to the question: “What if?”

Adam Savage, Michael Stevens Coming to ABQ

This story first appeared in the ABQ Free Press, and can be read here.

Searching for answers to the most dubious scientific mysteries in our world doesn’t have to be a total white lab coat affair. It can be pretty fun too, and change the way we view ordinary things.

That’s the idea behind “Brain Candy Live!,” an upcoming tour set to visit Albuquerque in March. The tour features Adam Savage of “Mythbusters” fame and Michael Stevens, the YouTube star who has amassed millions of followers while exploring questions like “What is déjà vu?” and “What if the Moon was a disco ball?”

Enter Savage, who was looking for someone to tour with. A phone call would lead to a marriage of the intellectual and logistical, and born from the union was “Brain Candy Live!”

“There are some things that I know nothing about that he knows everything about – actually making things and using tools. I only talk,” Stevens said.

While the tour doesn’t kick off until mid-February, Stevens called the planning phase alone a mind-blowing experience. Here was someone who made his name through YouTube videos paired with an icon of the modern science-entertainment-education arena.

“It’s the best position to be in,” Stevens said.

As far as the tour itself, its website likens the show to “a two-hour playdate with Walt Disney, Willy Wonka and Albert Einstein.”

“[Audiences] can expect to leave with a whole new set of skills that they never knew were possible,” said Stevens.

Topics like barometric pressure, how electricity works and scientific principles discovered by pioneers with alphabet soup names? Stevens is confident attendees won’t forget the science they witness after seeing it through his and Savage’s eyes.

He said he is looking forward to a bit of a change of pace as well, returning to the stage – he did some theater in Chicago before finding a niche online – after spending nearly seven years establishing himself as a YouTuber.

“It’s a totally different feeling – you get immediate feedback,” Stevens said, adding that some interaction with the audience will also play a part in how individual shows go.

The subjects explored on the tour are different from anything Stevens has touched on as VSauce, which is almost hard to believe considering the dozens of videos on his channel. As it turns out, live performance is the best format for solving some of the lingering questions that have dwelled in the back of his mind over the years.

“It became obvious that there are some things you just can’t do with a camera and a microphone. You need to do it in person.”

Humble about the craft

Stevens first caught the science bug from his father – an engineer who possessed an unrelenting drive to understand the things around him. That eventually rubbed off on his son.

Stevens went on to become passionate about experimentation and research. A big part of that, as anyone who’s taken a middle school science course knows, is admitting when your initial hypothesis may be wrong. Stevens embraces that.

“I’ll go ask for help, or look it up in the dictionary. One of the most powerful things we can do is be humble about how little we know,” he said.

To explore some of the heavier topics of science, you also need to have a little bit of fun. Stevens’ YouTube videos are as lighthearted as they are informational, like when he says we would become “supersonic tumbleweed” if the Earth ever stopped spinning.

He said people can expect the same memorable approach at “Brain Candy Live!,” the tour’s name itself suggesting an educational experience of the sweetest kind. Their thirst for knowledge might not be quenched on the stage, but for Stevens it’s as much about the curiosity as it is replacing a question mark with a period on a scientific inquiry.

“Nothing is impossible to understand,” he said. “It just might take more time than you might think.”

On a broad scale, Stevens said he’s encouraged by the place science has in society. When he was just getting into the world of asking questions and finding answers, all he had was “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and minimal literature at the library.

But while shows like “Magic School Bus” and “Mythbusters” aren’t pop culture mainstays anymore, it’s because the new generation of answer-finders are taking on that role in spades.

“Now you can watch channels (on the internet) covering everything from medicine to physics to music to biology, hosted by a more diverse group of people,” he said. “It also means we all have a responsibility to share it.”

Locals can take in the knowledge that Stevens and Savage themselves will be sharing when “Brain Candy Live!” visits Popejoy Hall on March 31.

Farm Bureau still fighting for ranchers after a century

This story first appeared in the Silver City Daily Press, and can be viewed here.

Brothers-in-law Manuel Valencia and Alfred O. Perrault, Mimbres Valley farmers and ranchers, are seen in this early 20th century view along the cottonwoods of the Mimbres River.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. For the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, even after 100 years of advocating for local ranchers, the fight remains as important as when the organization was founded.

Stewart Rooks, president of the Grant County chapter of the bureau — which will have a centennial celebration today at Tractor Supply — said the list of things the group is currently concerned about is endless.

“Anything that has anything to do with agriculture, food safety … anything,” Rooks said. “We’re concerned about any of that.”

Among them: water issues, efforts to protect the Mexican gray wolf and private property rights.

So, they’re still keeping busy after 100 years.

The bureau was first formed in Las Cruces with an overarching goal of providing agricultural-based people with a unified voice during the Industrial Revolution. As more and more people were leaving rural communities to move into cities, the farmer — and his importance to society — was starting to be forgotten.

They face similar issues in 2017. Rooks said many farmers are forced to commute long distances to get to good-paying jobs, impeding growth of rural communities in the process.

Hurting the farming population more than perhaps anything, though, is the lack of consistent dialogue with other people in communities.

“I don’t think that they’ve ever had the opportunity to talk to somebody heavily involved in agriculture, to really understand,” Rooks said. “They don’t really realize the importance because no one has ever sat down and talked to them.”

Klayton Bearup is from Grant Country, and said his family has been involved with the organization for as long as he can remember. If anything, he said, there is a bigger need than ever for unity in the farming community.

“Today we’re dealing with people trying to tell us how to do our job, and how to do it in a way that makes it more expensive on us. But yet they still want food available at all times that’s healthy, wholesome and nutritious,” he said. “So it’s still the same fight. It’s very much needed in the way that it was needed 100 years ago.”

Bearup has long been involved in advocating for agricultural issues. In high school he was involved in Future Farmers of America. He went on to be involved in the collegiate arm of the Farm and Livestock Bureau, where he began to get an understanding of what the group does.

For him, the effects that come from a lack of understanding what food goes through before it hits the grocery shelf are magnified.

“You don’t realize how big the industry really is until you start breaking it down,” Bearup said. “It’s part of the Farm Bureau’s mission, to create a way that we can speak about it and share our story and share what we know with people so they have a better grasp of where their food comes from and what all it entails.”

From Bearup’s perspective, many people take the efforts of farmers for granted, not knowing about the multitudes of individuals who play a role in food production.

“Our agricultural system is unmatched by any country ever in the history of the world, and that’s something that people kind of shrug off because they don’t understand,” he said. “[For them] it’s just there.”

A big piece of the puzzle is the different backgrounds people grow up in. Growing up near skyscrapers instead of potato or chile fields, it can be hard to understand what goes on behind the scenes.

Rooks said that, coming from an ag-based lifestyle, he understood the importance of the farmer in the community from a young age.

And the Grant County Farm and Livestock Bureau is working to ensure future generations understand as well. Rooks said his chapter works with schools, collaborating with their 4-H and home economics programs to encourage education and, potentially, involvement.

“I believe with more outreach and just getting information out there, that people are always very receptive,” he said. “It’s just a point of getting information out to those people.”

Bearup, who teaches agriculture at Silver High School, said he is optimistic about farming’s future locally, adding that groups like the Farm and Livestock Bureau have succeeded in prolonging the community’s relevance.

But even if the organization didn’t exist, Bearup said he and others like him realize the work they do is too important to stop.

“Everything that’s involved in us being able to live in the way that we live — food, fiber, shelter —  comes from agriculture in some way,” he said. “It’s vital for us to survive, and that never-ending pressure and passion to stay surviving and keep it prosperous drives everybody to make sure that no matter what happens, we’re still doing the job.”

The Grant County Farm and Livestock Bureau meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Grant County Extension Office. Members will celebrate their centennial with a BBQ from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Tractor Supply, 2707 Highway 180.

Exhibit to explore Silver City’s history

This story first appeared in the Silver City Daily Press. Click here to view it on

A town can learn and live through a lot in 50 years. The Silver City Museum is preparing to show just how much with an exhibit that will feature household items and personal testimonies from the community.

Opening Friday, the exhibit, “50 Years Ago in Silver City,” also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the museum’s opening. The opening also serves as a kickoff for a series of panel discussions, a digital storytelling workshop and listening event to be held throughout the summer and fall all tied into the history and culture of the past 50 years.

The building the museum is housed in — the historic H.B. Ailman House — has some unique history of its own — for the first three years of the museum’s existence, it shared the space with a local firehouse.

The exhibit will display historical items both on loan from community members and from the museum’s collection that characterize the evolution of the city and the diversity of the people who live here. Artifacts and photographs from the years 1962 to 1976 will show the popular culture, music, clothing, sports, and cars of the day.

Among them: the rugged combat boots of Town Councilor Jose Ray Jr. — still worn with dirt from half a century ago.

The exhibit will also present newsworthy local happenings in education, civil rights, mining, rodeo, and space exploration. Vignettes with artifacts collected in 1967 — the year the museum was founded — will be displayed in the hallway cases to give visitors a sense of the first collection of artifacts.

There will also be a series of panels over the course of the year, focusing on different eras and movements that helped shape the Silver City of today. Beginning with a talk on the founding of the museum, the panel series will also cover the civil right movement in Silver City, pop culture’s influence on the town, the Vietnam era and other topics. All panels start at noon. Admission is free and open to everyone.

Two people instrumental to the long-standing success of the museum will be on the first panel: museum founder and early board member Cecil Howard, and Susan Berry, who was the museum’s longstanding director for 36 years.

The opening reception will be held Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and will feature popular refreshments from a past era. There will also be a costume contest so dig out those bell-bottoms and beads — you might just win a prize for grooviest get-up.

“We hope the exhibition and community panels we have planned will lead to greater understanding of the unique aspects of Grant County history and culture in the near past,” said Museum Director Carmen Vendelin. “Museum visitors will revisit the times and issues with the perspective and distance of 50 years. Hopefully, they will come to new and better understanding, spirit of reconciliation, appreciation, and moving forward as a community of individuals who lived through those times. More recent arrivals and out-of-town visitors will also gain a greater understanding of this place and its culture.”