Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

 Signpost featured artist:
Laura Telander

Laura Telander
in her Placitas studio

Laura Telander

c. Laura Telander

Breakthrough, ornamental painting, by Laura Telander Photo credit: Oli Robbins

Laura Telander: Finding, following and owning the pattern

—Oli Robbins

Laura Telander’s ornamental paintings include elegantly rendered forms that seem to float, hover, and whisper. Their interpretation depends on the viewer, who will likely find them soothing and meditative, and who may be surprised to find that they stem from the artist’s decades-long interest in the relationship between beauty and the grotesque. For over twenty years, Telander has been experimenting with beauty and its many forms, while examining that fine “line between the exquisite and grotesque.” Telander admits that viewers familiar with only her current work “would probably never know that.” But after examining Telander’s earlier pieces alongside her current output, it becomes clear that the works within her oeuvre are linked by the artist’s persistent engagement with the human body—whether beautiful or misshapen—and the found object. 

In the late 1980s, Telander moved to New Mexico from California to begin graduate school at UNM, where she briefly studied art therapy before entering and completing the M.F.A. program. Her early works in graduate school were “dreamlike and simple” paintings of “raw, humanoid floating forms.” She soon shifted her focus, moving toward the physical and away from the psychological or, as she explains it, to “the body deformed instead of the heart and soul.” She centered her works around a found object, often taking 19th-century medical photographs of patients with various deformities or disorders, and building an assemblage around them. “I was really fascinated with the idea of giving these people some dignity and providing them with a space that wasn’t in a textbook—sort of transporting them to a place of beauty.” Telander’s assemblages were often composed within and confined to a box.

Presently, Telander uses forms that are more open-ended and creates works that are “less safe.” Thinking about how her thought process and final product has changed over the years, Telander says, “I used to arrange and rearrange, but it was always about the same thing, that same idea that I was exploring. Now, I feel like... not everything is contained as much... the boxes were very cozy. They were safe. I would explore that uncomfortable subject matter and have it safely in a box.” She regards her recent paintings as more organic and less architectural. Instead of approaching her works with a predetermined theme, as she used to do, Telander simply begins working, leaving all expectations at the door. “I always see something first that inspires me to use it somehow, but I never think about what I’m going to paint first.” She explains that painting has become “a meditative thing and takes me out of all the other stuff I have to do.”

Although Telander’s recent works are design-oriented and abstract—no longer figurative like her earlier assemblages—Telander still finds inspiration in, and often builds her works upon, the found object. Telander has composed several scrap books filled with patterns, designs and color palettes that she finds interesting or visually appealing. Says Telander, “I have tons of images I collect, with patterns, colors, and ideas I want to use in the future.” The pattern has replaced the photograph and figurine as Telander’s new found object. “I get a lot from ornament books, and then I just work it until I feel like I own it.” Telander still starts with the found image, but now alters it significantly and admits that she’s unable to anticipate the end result. “It’s always a surprise. Sometimes it looks way better than I thought, and sometimes I think, ‘that didn’t work.’”

Telander works on birch wood, and after gessoing the board, she will apply various layers of color. She puts down whatever color she feels like at that moment, and doesn’t think about it beforehand. She then paints on dots and drips, applies another layer of paint, and sands the board, at which point “things start to reveal themselves.” She then turns to her found pattern, which she enlarges and works until it becomes hers. She usually uses acrylic for her initial layers, moves into oil for the top layers, and finishes with a coat of varnish, explaining that she likes “the depth that the gloss provides.” Telander employs a razor blade to cut into the layers and, after scraping them all down, the end product is surprisingly thin. 

In Telander’s eyes, some of her current paintings, especially those that are particularly ornate, still concern the grotesque. Certainly, there exists a historical link between the ornamental and the grotesque, but one would be hard-pressed to find anything unpleasant in Telander’s textured surfaces and brilliant abstractions. And whereas Telander’s earlier pieces clearly conveyed a particular, and sometimes disturbing, narrative, her recent paintings are more flexible. “The explanation of the history of my aesthetic and my development—I feel like I can let a lot of that go. If you find something beautiful—pretty much that’s what I’m trying to create at this point and it doesn’t matter where it came from.” Indeed, her paintings invite the viewer to become overwhelmed by a quiet and beautiful aesthetic, to move toward the decorative and away from the theoretical.

c. Susan Jordan

The Turtle Trail, gourd art, by Susan Jordan

Local artists honored in La Junta and Range Café’s Red Boot Gallery shows

The Range Café’s Red Boot Gallery in Bernalillo, in conjunction with LaJunta Galleria, hosted public receptions on July 29 to honor some of the area’s best local talent and kick-off a month-long exhibition at both galleries.

Artist Frank Fell, who has been producing well-regarded folk art for more than fifty years, leads the long list of artists displaying work in different media.

Pamela Williams, curator of the Red Boot Gallery show, told the Signpost, “The big news is that our month-long show is to honor all of the Range’s artists by showing new work from each one of them—and the work they're bringing in is dazzling! The response has been overwhelming. I hope everyone will come and see.”

The Red Boot Gallery has hosted local and national artists for many years. LaJunta Galleria, 413 South Camino Del Pueblo, Bernalillo’s historic stagecoach stop, has been recently renovated and now hosts artists of all mediums.

All artists’ work will remain on exhibit until the end of August. For further information or to exhibit work, contact Pamela Williams at Red Boot Gallery 867-4755 or Sean Brennan at LaJunta Galleria 681-1535.

c. Gene Anderson

Watercolor painting, by Gene Anderson, Placitas Community Library art show

August Art Exhibit at the Placitas Community Library

The Placitas Community Library is hosting an exhibit of paintings and other art created by the painting class which meets at the Placitas Senior Center. The class members who will be exhibiting are Gene Anderson, Cissy Casaus, Ana Claudia da Silva, Rosemary Harris, John McClendon, Adele Stuhlmann, and Valerie Tomberlin. The show will open August 5 and be open to the public until September 1. A reception will take place on August 5, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served and attendees will have the opportunity to meet the artists and talk to them about their work. Each artist has worked on attaining his own particular style and welcomes public input and commentary. Their painting teacher is Placitan Elaine Slusher, a retired professional artist who has won many accolades for her artwork over the years.

Jewelry show and sale

The Placitas Community Center’s Beading Class will hold a Jewelry Show and Sale on August 4 and 5 at the Placitas Community Library. The class members have learned many off-loom techniques, fringe techniques, and cabochon embroidery, in addition to various bead-stringing styles and finishes. The show will include necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. All will be for sale.

For further information, contact the Center at 867-1396.


Cover of Shelter, by Lloyd Kahn

Shelter, Placitas style: last call for memories and photographs

—Tony Hull

In 1973, most hippies and architecture enthusiasts were reading the book Shelter, by Lloyd Kahn. Although Shelter covered the world, it cataloged a number of innovative houses in Placitas.

The introduction to Shelter summarizes: “This book is about simple homes, natural materials, and human resourcefulness. It is about discovery, hard work, the joys of self-sufficiency, and freedom. It is about shelter, which is more than a roof overhead.” These words represent a very innovative period of Placitas building, whether Bucky Fuller Domes, Steve Baer Zomes, Freeforms, or other constructions using all sorts of materials. That this important book of the times chose to look so extensively at Placitas in the late Sixties and early Seventies speaks to the innovation of that period.

The insights and memories of those who built and lived in these structures, and may still live in them, is central to the September Exhibit which runs from September 2 through 26 (with a reception on September 8).

This is a call for your images and memories for inclusion in Shelter, Placitas-style. We will be pleased to interview anyone who contacts us. We welcome your pictures, newspaper clippings, and other data as well. What was it like to build these structures and live in them? Contact Tony Hull at 771-8566 or email

Some of the buildings cataloged in Shelter are long gone, and some are still here, sometimes modified, sometimes not. And there are other innovative Placitas buildings of the period not included in the book. While we are also preparing for another exhibit in 2013 on Tawapa, we welcome all material on any aspect of Placitas. We want this to be the story of the people who built and lived in shelter of that period, told by the people of that period. This work is in conjunction of the History Project of the Placitas Community Library.

Call for fine crafters

The 24th Old Church Fine Crafts show for 2012 is calling for fine crafters. Deadline for entries is August 25. The show will be held November 30 and December 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All work is to be handmade by the participant. The booth fee is fifty dollars and 15 percent donation of sales. Each booth is a six-foot table covered with blue cloth to the floor. Artists will set up, conduct sales, and take down their space. The show will be juried. For entry forms, call Bev at 301-0042.

Corrales council calls for artists

The Visual Arts Council of the Corrales Historical Society will be jurying and hosting an art show from October 5 to October 14, and are calling for artists to submit their work. They will accept up to three works of original fine art, priced to sell at $2500 or under. Work will be accepted for jurying on August 22 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. or August 23 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, at the Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro. Entry forms will be available when work is left at Old Church. Entries are also available by phone 301-0042. The entry fee is thirty dollars, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope is also needed. A fifteen percent donation is taken from sales. Net proceeds are used for restoration and maintenance of the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales and the programs of the Corrales Historical Society. For more information, call Bev Darrow at 301-0042.
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