Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Signpost featured artist: Lisa Chernoff

Glass artist Lisa Chernoff in her gallery
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

c. Lisa Chernoff

Moonscape, 26” x 26” x 3” deep

c. Lisa Chernoff

Turquoise Twist, 21” x 3”deep

c. Lisa Chernoff

Power Bar, 48” x 7” x 2.5”deep

Signpost featured artist
To shape and forever discover:

Lisa Chernoff’s glass sculptures

—Oli Robbins

Art is frequently displayed in a way that prompts the viewer to look, but not feel. It appeals to the visual sense, less often to the remaining five senses. But some fine modern art invites the observer not only to see, but also to feel—literally and emotionally. It can awaken multiple senses simultaneously, as it presents a unified assembly of colors, textures, and forms. Such is the case with Placitas artist Lisa Chernoff’s three-dimensional glass sculptures, which offer a viewing experience that is both unexpected and rich. Their elegance suggests delicacy, though as the artist points out, the glass is strong and sturdy. Certain forms seem flexible and almost jelly-like, despite the fact that they’re solid, hardened glass. These dichotomies feature prominently within Chernoff’s pieces, making the viewing experience unexpected and rich.

Chernoff is a completely self-trained artist, making her virtuosity that much more impressive. But her non-traditional, experiential education works well for her instinctive mode of art making. Despite being drawn to the arts since childhood, and always being quite “crafty,” Chernoff followed an implicit rule that “you don’t go to college to be an artist.” As such, it was several years and many different jobs until a fortuitous event granted her an opportunity to embrace and commit to glasswork. About 17 years ago, Chernoff was part of a department-wide layoff at Presbyterian, where she worked in a rehab facility administering physical abilities tests. For many of Chernoff’s colleagues, the layoff was far from welcome. But Chernoff saw it as a new beginning—a moment to direct her own future. Presbyterian gave their employees a nine-month warning, in which time Chernoff’s excitement and courage grew.

Prior to taking the plunge into full-time art-making, Chernoff took just one jewelry workshop in an attempt to learn about glass. Since then, she’s allowed herself to be guided by her innate sense of design and composition. It was during the very first Placitas Studio Tour that Chernoff initially shared her work with the public. She opened the doors of her budding studio and experienced a wildly successful turnout. Thanks to that inaugural tour, Chernoff realized she actually had a shot at not only creating art, but also selling it. She soon moved toward larger-scale glass sculptures and tried her hand at fusing glass—employing a kiln to join multiple pieces in various shapes. Says Chernoff, “in general, glass is less controllable than a lot of things, so I get a lot of surprises.” She now enjoys these happy accidents, but when still a novice she found it easy to become frustrated.

Today, Chernoff accepts this unavoidable element of chance: “I now see it as an opportunity to experiment—and view the work from the perspective of a viewer outside of myself, more freshly.” Because there are so many unplanned—and sometimes hidden—areas within the sculptures, new visual facets continue to reveal themselves long after the firing. 

Chernoff explains that fusing glass is less immediate than a technique like blowing glass. She begins with a shape in mind, then cuts out pieces of that shape and layers the forms according to texture and depth—some pieces will appear to be surface level, while others recess deeply into the sculpture. This process is several hours long, so Chernoff has time to change her mind and discover which arrangements are most pleasing. Says Chernoff, “When something is starting to feel too symmetrical, I have to change it or it’s unsettling.” She works alongside the heat of the kiln to mold the glass into a composition that suits her vision. Chernoff professes to working from the gut: “It’s almost a feeling I think... You have to see what’s going to happen before you program the firing.” But once the setup is complete, she turns away from the kiln, goes to sleep, and releases the glass to the heat. The resulting pieces are colorful and complex, with an abundance of harmonious relationships between forms.

For hundreds of years, New Mexico has offered artists inspirational landscapes, skies, and quietude. And while many artists traveled across land and sea to arrive here, Chernoff is a born and raised New Mexican. From Alamogordo, she and her family moved for a period of time to the midwest, which Chernoff found “suffocating.” She missed the dryness of New Mexico and its liberating open spaces, so she moved back as soon as she was able. Says Chernoff, “I don’t see myself doing this anywhere else and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Chernoff owes much of her success to her husband, Mel—with whom she’s lived in Placitas for 23 years. Mel works with Chernoff, completing a great deal of the “grit” work involved in preparing her pieces for display. He also assumes all photographic responsibilities and primes her shelving. Chernoff’s work can be seen in her home studio gallery by making an appointment via phone (867-3330) or email Her sculptures are also exhibited at Arte de Placitas, Canyon Road’s La Mesa of Santa Fe, Matrix Fine Arts in Albuquerque, and Ranch at Taos in Taos. They will be highlighted this month at Matrix Fine Arts in the two-person show, “Freedom and Constraint.” The exhibition runs from August 7 to August 29, with a sneak preview from August 4 to August 6, and a reception on August 7, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

c. Cissy Casaus

Painting, by Cissy Casaus

August art exhibit at Placitas Library

—Romy Harris

The Placitas Community Library is hosting an exhibit of paintings by the Placitas Community Center painting class taught by Elaine Slusher, who offers her painting expertise to the students on a weekly basis. Elaine is a retired professional artist who has exhibited in the Placitas Artist Series shows and many others. Class participants are Rosemary Harris (Romy), Gene Anderson, Cissy Casaus, John McClendon, Adele Stuhlmann, Kathryn Erdman, Elizabeth Bogard, Brenda McSwain, and Valerie Tomberlin. The exhibit will start August 1 and be open to the public through August 27. The free reception will be held on August 16, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Come join us to browse art, enjoy refreshments, and talk to the artists.

Art in the Park brings outdoor, fine arts and crafts fair to Corrales

—Denise Elvrum

On August 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at La Entrada Park, in the heart of Corrales, there will be a free art fair. In fact, award-winning artists show a wide range of art and fine crafts the first Sunday of every month through October.

Red Light Ramblers will stroll the grounds, playing old time, bluegrass and fiddle tunes. In the afternoon, The Buckerettes, another local favorite, will perform at the band shell. The Street Food Institute food truck and O’Bean’s coffee van are scheduled, and parking is easy. Free activities for children will be provided. This is a family event—fun for all. For more information, visit or call 369-1012.

Anne and Pete Sibley

The Sibleys return to Placitas

Anne and Pete Sibley will be playing a concert on Friday evening, September 4, at 7:00 p.m., at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Tickets are available for twenty dollars. All proceeds go to the musicians.

Anne and Pete Sibley will be bringing music from their recent album release Extraordinary Life on their first return to Placitas since 2012. Former winners of the “Great American Duet Sing Off” on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, these two are what Bluegrass Now Magazine calls, “One of the sweetest, most soulful and hauntingly beautiful duets in the business.” With a pure, clear sound that gets to the essence of the extraordinary life, Anne and Pete make music that stirs the heart and feeds the soul.

For tickets, call 867-5718 or email Space is limited.

Art exhibit Razing Thresholds on display in Bernalillo

From August 7 to August 9, an exclusive art show featuring New Mexican artists Sage Joseph and Jason Ward will be on display at Gallery 313 (1115 S Camino Del Pueblo) in Bernalillo. The show will feature amazing new works from both artists. For more information, call 206-6404. The show begins with a reception on August 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and continues on August 8 and 9 from noon to 8 p.m.

Last year’s Music At Sunset

Music At Sunset —fun local free community event

The Placitas Community Library (PCL) is proud to announce the third free end-of-the-summer community program—“Music at Sunset”—on August 22, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the patio of the PCL library. Placitas songwriter and guitarist Tim O’Rourke will be kicking off the evening with his style of a combination of country and folk rock. Then, it’s Red Light Ramblers from 6:15 to 7:00 p.m., an old-time and mountain music trio with Placitas roots. “Rock Zone” will follow to finish off the evening. Rock Zone’s line-up is Dave Harper on guitar and vocals; John Scott, guitar and vocals; Porter Dees, drums and vocals; and Chris Daul, bass and vocals. All in all, it will be a fun evening. Pack a picnic dinner to celebrate the end of summer. Don’t forget the lawn chairs and blankets. Cold drinks and watermelon will be for sale. There will also be Hula hoops, horseshoes, and fishing for the kids, courtesy of the Placitas Fire Department. Everyone, of all ages, is encouraged to attend.

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