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By Blake de Pastino

MARCH 9, 1998:  SCARED OF CHAKRA: As an item in America's cultural life, Tibet is today what Ethiopia was 15 years ago. Movie stars, rock stars and artists of all kinds are taking it upon themselves to bring attention to the plight of people in (and from) occupied Tibet, much in the same way that they poured out their hearts (and oftentimes, wallets) for famine-struck Africa back in the '80s. And although Hollywood's dalliance in foreign affairs has produced little that qualifies as enlightening, locally this trend has brought about some rather substantive shows on the people and cultures of Tibet. Close to home, there's the ongoing Tibet: Tradition and Change at the Albuquerque Museum, a well-executed exhibit of ceremonial art objects that helps convey the aesthetic and religious heritage of the mountain nation. And this week, the Museum of International Folk Art opens At Home Away From Home, a show that studies the lives of Tibetans in exile, including glimpses at a resettlement community in Santa Fe and the lives of Tibetan children in India. It's difficult to say what this preponderance of art-as-politics will actually accomplish for the people of Tibet; but let's at least hope that we as art patrons can walk away from these shows somewhat improved.

At Home Away From Home: Tibetan Culture in Exile opens Sunday, March 8 at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. Runs through April 19. Call (505) 827-6350. Tibet: Tradition and Change runs through May 24 at 2000 Mountain NW. Call 243-7255.

FANTASY: Roger Baker has a glossy, stylized look that is gradually catching Albuquerque's eye. From the images of his 1997 Jazz in New Mexico calendar to the pictures that have won awards in Weekly Alibi and Photo Forum magazine, Baker's unique brand of visual innuendo is becoming easier and easier to recognize. Now some of Baker's latest photographs are on display at Gold Coast Coffee House in a new show, Fantasy and the Human Form. Featuring the quiet composition and dark eroticism that are fast becoming his visual trademarks, Fantasy is an exploration of the human body that rather naturally allows Baker's swanky style to go full tilt, while still permitting a healthy sense of wit. Regardless of what you see in the physiques and faces, though, you should go to the show knowing that all the pieces from Fantasy and the Human Form are up for sale, with the proceeds benefiting New Mexico AIDS Services.

Fantasy and the Human Form runs through April 5 at 910 Rio Grande NW. A reception will be held this Sunday, March 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Call 244-1925.

--Blake de Pastino

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