Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Signpost featured artists: Art in the Schools

(l. to r.) Ellen Faris and Beth Sommer—co-coordinators of AIS.
—Photo credit: Oli Robbins

Placitas Art In The School students experiment with paint and printmaking

AIS—Empowering Placitas’s youngest art buffs

—Oli Robbins

Placitas and its surrounding areas get a lot of attention for the dense populations of artists—the Signpost features one great talent each month, after all. Yes, Placitas is brimming with creative souls, and some are so little it’s easy to miss them. But they’re here, and they’re producing incredible work, thanks to the Art in the School Program (AIS) at Placitas Elementary School (PES). The lucky students at PES are receiving a remarkable education in both the history of art and how to make it. Beth Sommer, PES kindergarden teacher, and Ellen Faris, parent of a PES third grader, are co-coordinators of AIS. They work alongside several dedicated volunteers and educators, including Andrea Fellows Walters, Carla Schmidly, Tanya Mones, and Jean Kolod. The program thrives by virtue of the efforts of these volunteers, as well as the generosity of the Placitas artist community.

Says Ellen, “AIS depends on our local artists... At the holiday show, artists donate pieces of their work and we raffle them. Every artist that donates something always shares a story of how important art was to them when they were in school. It is a passion they want to pass on to the next generation.”

Today, in many schools across the US, art is losing funding and nearing extinction, but in Placitas, it’s more present than ever. While APS integrates art education only every other year, Placitas Elementary offers it each year—under the rich and integrative instruction of artist Juliana Kirwin. So, Placitas children are doubly exposed to art, through Kirwin’s classes and AIS, which was founded in 1985 by art historian Sara Oto-Diniz in reaction to the national epidemic of eliminating art education funding.

Through AIS, children learn about the history of visual expression and begin to grasp the extent to which art reflects the values of the environment that made it. Says Beth, “The thing that’s so amazing is that art is what speaks to the most people, it’s one of the things that makes us human.” AIS imbues children with a real knowledge of, and appreciation for, art—the different ways to make it, and the fact that it has been a present fixture of the human experience, across time and place. By making work inspired by, for example, Mayan art or Greek architecture, students are personally engaging with the cultural developments that informed so many of the structures that currently surround us. Ellen believes that the program “ignites the imagination, enhances creative problem solving, develops critical thinking, and nurtures a positive self-concept.”

Beth, Ellen, and all the volunteers undergo extensive training to teach within AIS. In 2014-15, for example, volunteers took workshops on four different periods in art history: “Greek Temple Architecture and Art,” “Meet the Maya: Royal Relief Sculpture,” “Journey to Japan: The Aesthetics of Hokusai’s Great Wave,” and “Chinese Landscape Painting: A Silent Poetry.” In years past, they’ve studied artists such as Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, and Henri Matisse. Artists and art historians lead the volunteers through lectures and art-making lessons, which focus on how best to teach children about historical moments and artistic techniques. The curriculum is designed with an awareness of the specific learning modules that fulfill the needs of each age group. It takes into account, for example, that pre-school and kindergarten-aged children tend to master information when it’s delivered by means of story-telling, whereas older children respond well to enrichment activities. But regardless of the grade, most lessons begin by asking the children what they see. By voicing their observations and listening to those of others, the children learn that our perceptions are subjective (and we should respect others’ ideas), and that art is indeed relevant. It is neither esoteric nor out of reach, but ever-present. It contains stories and conveys emotions, and it can serve as a source of knowledge and a creative outlet for years to come.

The PES students’ reactions to AIS, and the astounding artwork produced within it, speak volumes about the success of the program. Says Ryan Faris, age eight: “It is awesome because you get to learn different art forms.” Ryan’s older brother Cole echoes her sentiment: “Art in the School is a fun activity that has taught me about techniques and artists through the ages.” And nine-year-old Kiki Hall finds AIS “really fun,” and especially likes “the hands on activities.”

Just last month, in the New York Times arts section, art critic Holland Cotter wrote, “the further we distance ourselves from art itself, from being in front of it with all filters gone, life is what we lose—art’s and ours.” I couldn’t agree more, for in our current era, when in-person experiences are quickly being replaced by virtual ones, it’s more important than ever to establish environments that encourage experiential, tactile learning. Thanks to Beth, Ellen, and all of the AIS volunteers, our children are developing the confidence and skills to comprehend, create, and relate to art.

Photograph, by Lenore Goodell

Lenore Goodell shows “Mostly About Water” at the Placitas Community Library

Lenore Goodell will be the featured artist at the Placitas Community Library from April 4 through April 30. An artist’s reception will be held on April 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

In Goodell’s statement, she writes: “Beginning around 2005, I began seeing ways to approach the natural world using a loosened visual palate and coincidentally developing a deep admiration for our native flowering plants…The selection of the images in this show are a reflection of my response to the brutal drought. My thirsty visual cortex drives me to feast upon watery places, thus the current show title, Mostly About Water.”

New exhibit features early Native American easel art

—Charron McFadden

The Coronado Historic Site is pleased to present its newest art exhibit, which features prints of original watercolor paintings from the Dorothy Dunn collection at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. It includes pieces by notable artists such as Vidal Casiquito, Jr. of Jemez, Gilbert Atencio of San Ildefonso, and Pablita Velarde of Santa Clara, as well as several pieces by Zia artist, Velino Shije Herrera, who painted the murals in the reconstructed Kiva in the early 1930s at the Coronado Site.

The overall theme of the show is Pueblo life ways. Imagine the activities in the paintings going on in the plaza of the Kuaua Pueblo at the time of Coronado’s entrada in 1540! The works give beautiful insight into our Southwest heritage, and all have a story to tell.

The show will remain up through February, 2016. Admission is included with your entrance fee to the Site. Coronado Historic Site is located on US 550 in Bernalillo. It is open daily (except Tuesdays), from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is three dollars per adult; children 16 and under are free. New Mexico seniors are free on Wednesdays and all New Mexico residents are free on Sundays. For more information call 867-5351 or go to or

Corrales hosts art studio tour

—Denise Elvrum

The first weekend in May, on May 2 and 3, the Village of Corrales will, once again, host one of the most successful studio tour events in the state of New Mexico—the Corrales Art Studio Tour. More than 75 artists will be showing work at 43 different locations on the tour this year. Village artists will open their studios and homes, hosting artists from the surrounding areas. Many of the studio stops will feature multiple artists in locations throughout the Village, including local businesses. The tour provides an opportunity for the public to meet the artists and learn how they develop, execute, and display their art.

This year, two Corrales galleries (Galeria de Corrales and Morgan Gallery) will join us as participants and sponsors of the tour. The wineries of the Corrales Wine Loop, which includes Acequia Winery, Corrales Winery, Matheson Winery, and Pasando Tiempo Winery, also join us as sponsors. All will be hosting artists at their locations and providing wine tastings.

Your tour begins in the heart of the Village at the Preview Gallery in the historic Villa Acequia. The building, listed on the New Mexico State Registry of Cultural Properties, is located at 4829 Corrales Road. In addition to the work of participating artists, Cottonwood Montessori School students will have their work on display at this location. The Preview Gallery is open on May 1, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and during tour hours on May 2 and 3, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Catalogs and maps for the tour are also available at local sponsors, galleries, wineries and art studios throughout the Village.

Tour artists offer a wide selection of fine art and fine crafts for every taste and budget. Art genres range from representational to abstract art, in fiber, glass, metal, photography, ceramics, and many other materials.

For details, visit or

Pottery, by Catherine Alleva

Water media painting, by P. K. Williams

Bee-Coming Endangered, Wax resist on silk by Bunny Bowen

Art quilt, by Jo Anne Fredrikson

PAS features duoW

The 28th season of the Placitas Artists Series continues on April 19, with a 3:00 p.m. concert featuring duoW performing works for violin and cello by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Maurice Ravel, Fritz Kreisler, Astor Piazzolla, and others. The duo features violinist Arianna Warsaw-Fan and cellist Meta Weiss.

Among the works on the program are Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Cello, K. 424; Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello; Kreisler’s Three Viennese Pieces, arranged by duoW; and Piazolla’s Libertango.

The concert is generously sponsored by Vicki Gottlieb, Jadvyga Biskis, Trisha Biskis Wright, and Geri and Larry Verble.

Prior to the concert, a 2:00 p.m., a visual artists reception will feature the art of Catherine Alleva, ceramics; Dorothy Bunny Bowen, wax resist painting; Jo Anne Fredrikson, art quilts; and P. K. Williams, water media. Their works, which are for sale, are on display from March 28 to May 1.

Catherine Alleva’s passion is wheel-thrown pottery and altered forms. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with clay and to the countless teachers, ceramics and otherwise, who have taught her how to center and be centered.

Dorothy Bunny Bowen says about her work: “Using dyes and wax on cloth, I draw upon the high desert as an inspiration, and am concerned with how this is being altered by climate change.”

Jo Anne Fredrikson says about her work: “My desire is to create quilted pieces that can tell a story and surprise even me.”

P. J. Williams says about her work: “I consider myself an ‘Opposing Artist.’ I relish the unique results when I combine opposites: mediums, colors, subject matter or even styles.”

The concert and visual artists reception both take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

Tickets for the PAS concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert or may be purchased for $20 in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store at 120 E. Highway 550, Bernalillo; or on-line at Tickets at the door are twenty dollars for general admission and $15 for students with ID. Music students through high school are admitted free with a paying adult.

Placitas Artists Series projects are made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, call 867-8080 or visit

Santa Fe Opera presents its Spring tour

Now in its twenty-first year, the Santa Fe Opera’s annual Spring tour will soon be making the rounds to venues throughout New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas in a series of free community and school performances. The talented team of soprano Abigail Mitchell and baritone Shea Owens, both former apprentices, will join music director Kirt Pavitt in a whirlwind of performances, presenting the original work, Written in the Stars. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Doors open thirty minutes before each performance.

Shows: April 4, 4:00 p.m., Arthur Bell Auditorium at Harwood Museum, Taos; April 8, 6:30 p.m., The Mezzanine at The Colorado Springs Conservatory, Colorado Springs; April 9, 7:00 p.m., Shuler Theater, Raton; April 12, 3:00 p.m., Rio Grande Theatre, Las Cruces; April 18, 7:00 p.m., Lubbock Arts Festival at Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, Lubbock, TX; April 19, 4:00 p.m., Town Hall at Clovis Community College, Clovis; April 24, 7:30 p.m., Journal Theater at National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque; April 26, 4:00 p.m., Concert Hall at Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho; April 28, 7:00 p.m., Peñasco Theatre, Peñasco; April 29, 7:30 p.m., Macey Center at New Mexico Tech, Socorro

For information on school concerts, contact Andrea Fellows Walters at

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