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Pushed to the “Radiant Edge”

By Sheridan Sansegundo

When Anado McLauchlin chose artists for the second exhibition to be held at the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, his studio gallery in La Cieneguita, he set them a challenge: Think about where you are with your art, and then go beyond the point where you feel comfortable. Step over the edge — whether it be in color, style, size, or subject matter — and see what happens.

Opening of Radiant Edge
Sat, Jul 28, 1-5pm
The Chapel of Jimmy Ray
La Cieneguita

Lulu Torbet’s response to Anado’s invitation was: “Why me? My work isn’t edgy. It’s all about the aesthetics and visual pleasures of the everyday world. I don’t do political or social commentary, and I’m not big on public self-disclosure.”

But the timing was right. Over the past year Torbet has pretty much cornered the slings and arrows market, including breast cancer surgery and treatment. As she found herself without the means to pay her medical bills, friends organized a fundraising exhibition of her photographs. San Miguel rallied round big-time, and by the end of the show the cost of her remaining treatment was covered.

“As a result I became more visible, but also more introspective. It was the right time for the focus of my work to be more personal. Making this piece about my experience with cancer—and showing it—was definitely outside my comfort zone. But I did it, and it was a liberating experience.”

Her piece, “Radiation Edge,” consists of six 20” x 20” panels. In the center band are an explanatory statement and a self-portrait showing burns, blisters and the “bombing targets” drawn by the radiation team with black marker. The other four panels are new images of battered San Miguel cars that will be familiar from the artist’s earlier work. The whole group is connected by a partially painted glass overlay (a new technique for the artist) that ties the six panels together.

“Now I understand my attraction to the scraped, dented, repainted cars I have photographed for years” she says. ”I connect to the beat-up beauty of their cumulative attrition, testament to the lived-in wear and tear of their history. Being nudged to the “edge” was good for me. Maybe I won’t play it so safe in future work.”

Radiant Edge opens at the Chapel of Jimmy Ray in La Cieneguita tomorrow, July 28, from 1-5pm with work by 15 artists, including Mr. McLauchlin himself, music, food and surprises. For driving directions, contact

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