Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Jim Holley with his metal art creation
Photo credit: Oli Robbins

The whimsical and functional metal art of Jim Holley

Signpost featured artist

The welded garden: Jim Holley’s sculptural creations

—Oli Robbins

You may have snagged a sculpture from, or shared a quick chat with, Jim and Nancy Holley on a warm Saturday at the Placitas Flea Market. They’ve been loyal vendors at the Merc’s market (hosted by the Placitas Community Library) for years, offering locals a bevy of sculptural creations for home and garden. Jim is the metal-working sculptor, while Nancy contributes visual suggestions and assists in selling. Jim’s whimsical, swaying, and minimalist steel “ladies in the wind” are his most popular items at present, though he also fashions pieces that incorporate solar lighting and cast large-scale projections of steel cutouts at nighttime.

Jim and Nancy have inhabited their current Placitas home—an old homestead in Placitas West—for two years. They previously lived in Rio Rancho and spent many years in Florida where Jim dealt primarily with stained glass, creating locally-inspired, three-dimensional tiki bars and palm trees. There’s never been a time in Jim’s life when he was not surrounded by, or making, art of some kind, but he’s never devoted all of his time to it. He spent 42 years in the computer business, for nine of those years working as a Microsoft consultant for IBM. He currently splits his time in three—part sculptor, part home remodeler, part landscape inspector for a commercial landscape management company. He and Nancy can also be found spending time with their many Shitzus—a dog they used to breed.

Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Jim spent most of his formative years traveling across states and countries with his Air Force dad. He attended eight different elementary schools and four high schools, even living on Crete—Greece’s most populous and largest island. While there, he and his family scuba-dived throughout the Mediterranean. Because the Air Force provided a great range of resources, Jim and his father spent much of their time in wood shops, both becoming self-trained woodworkers. In the years that followed, Jim never enrolled in art or craft workshops, instead continuing to instruct himself in whatever artistic medium interested him. He worked with wood and glass until moving to New Mexico, at which point he found that metal seemed better suited to the general Southwestern aesthetic.

Open to custom projects, Jim has constructed objects like mailboxes and trellises on demand. And he finds that, oftentimes, it’s a customer that initiates a move in a new direction. It was following a conversation with a patron that Jim began making his solar light projection pieces—welding together steel cutouts, piping, a base and solar light. Each cutout can be removed and replaced with another so viewers can achieve a variety of different effects. His “ladies in the wind” are shaped and welded freehand out of black steel rods (later painted). Their bodies are gently undulating forms that sway (as their title implies) with the movement of the wind. They assume different personalities and don a variety of hairstyles and faces, which are generally comprised of river rocks from the bosque. The ladies’ wavy, thin forms create negative space that functions as a window through which one can view the surrounding landscape. They usually possess hook-hands that can hold bird feeders or planters.

Jim tends to “upcycle” whenever possible, finding old objects that can no longer fulfill their originally intended purpose, and using them in his art. Air conditioning coolers become Kokopelli heads, nails are painted pink and used as punk-rocker hair, screwdrivers and hammers become accessories or appendages, and an emptied out, rusted fire extinguisher becomes a soothing wind chime.

This was the first year that Jim and Nancy partook in the Placitas Studio Tour (put on every Mother’s Day weekend), but they now look forward to doing it for years to come. They enjoyed a fantastic turnout and Jim was the Tour’s featured artist on KRQE’s morning show (his interview with David Romero can be found at Jim and Nancy thank the Placitas Community Library and the Merc for making possible the flea market, where they can be found every second and fourth Saturday through October. They can also be reached at 515-4992/515-4323 or at

KUPR radio hosts fundraiser-benefit concert

On August 27, at 7:00 p.m., at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, the world-famous Rahim Alhaj Trio will perform a fundraising benefit concert for Placitas’s KUPR radio station and Direct Aid Iraq. The artists who make up the Rahim Alhaj Trio are considered, by many, to be the best in their musical fields, especially with their unique instruments.

The KUPR staff is particularly honored to have artists of this caliber to help KUPR raise its awareness. Ticket prices are $20. Of that, $15 will go to KUPR’s general operating fund and concert expenses, and five dollars will be donated to benefit Direct Aid Iraq.

For ticket information, see the advertisement to the right, or visit

Placitas Artists Series’ kicks off thirtieth season with extra-special event

The Placitas Artists Series launches its thirtieth season on the afternoon and evening of August 14, with a very special pair of events: “Stepping Out with Slatkin and McTee” is a PAS fundraiser featuring internationally acclaimed, Grammy-winning conductor Leonard Slatkin and award-winning American composer Cindy McTee.

The couple is in the neighborhood this month because Maestro Slatkin is conducting the Santa Fe Opera production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa.

At 3:00 p.m. on August 14, the main “Stepping Out” event will take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. This event includes a moderated interview and Q&A with conductor Leonard Slatkin and composer Cindy McTee, the performance of “Stepping Out,” a short and playful work by McTee for flute and percussion, light refreshments, and the opportunity to purchase books and CDs and meet Slatkin and McTee in person. Tickets for this event are fifty dollars.

Beginning around 5:00 p.m., immediately following the main event, a private reception for Slatkin and McTee will be held at a signature Placitas home—the “Tecolote House.” Food and drink will be provided. A silent auction will include, among other exciting items, a Santa Fe Opera package for two that includes tickets to Vanessa, the preview buffet and a back-stage SFO tour, and lodging at the Hotel St. Francis. Tickets for the reception are $75 dollars.

All proceeds from “Stepping Out” will benefit the Placitas Artists Series Endowment Fund, ensuring the organization’s future viability. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to

Placitas Artists Series outlines upcoming season

September 18 marks the official opening of Placitas Artists Series 2016-17 concert season with the first of nine monthly concerts celebrating thirty years of “Music and Art in the Foothills.”

Willy Sucre, well-known violist for the New Mexico Philharmonic, has organized a “Willy Sucre and Friends” concert for that date, as well as November 20, January 15, March 19, and May 21. Among the “friends” he has arranged to appear with are Awadagin Pratt, pianist; La Catrina String Quartet; Ivonne Figueroa, pianist, and Guillermo Figueroa, violinist; Krzysztof Zimowski, concertmaster of the New Mexico Philharmonic; and a number of other colleagues from that orchestra and elsewhere.

Solo performers and a small ensemble fill out the schedule for the intervening concerts: Joseph Johnson, cellist, October 9; the Brass Roots Trio, December 4; Aniello Desiderio, classical guitarist, February 12; and Misuzu Tanaka, pianist, April 23.

For more specific information about the PAS 2016-17 concert season, see page 2 of this Signpost.

As always, the nine regular-season PAS concerts are paired with month-long exhibitions of visual artworks hung in the fellowship hall of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The works are available for purchase throughout the month. A visual artists reception is held one hour prior to each concert.

The exhibitors for 2016-17 were selected by jury and come from Placitas and elsewhere in New Mexico. Most exhibitions feature four artists in a mix of media and styles. This year will also include an April solo retrospective of works by Placitas artist Judith Roderick.

For the third straight year, PAS will be hosting the popular Santa Fe Opera Holiday Concert. This year’s event will be on the evening of November 30.

All PAS concerts are held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church at 7 Paseo de San Antonio in the Historic Village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

For more about the Placitas Artists Series and its activities, visit, email, or leave a voicemail at 867-8080.

Call for entries: Old Church Fine Arts Show

Artists wishing to show their artwork in the juried Old Church Fine Art show must enter their artwork, completed entry form, and a self-addressed and stamped business-size envelope on either August 24, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., or August 25, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Bring your entry packet to the Old San Ysidro Church, located at 966 Old Church Road in Corrales, across from Casa San Ysidro. Entry forms are available at the Old Church the day of jurying, or at There is a thirty dollar entry fee.

Paintings, drawings, collage, mixed media, photography, prints, non-functional ceramics, and stoneware will be accepted. Work must be original to the artist and available for not more than two thousand dollars. Pieces must be gallery-ready, limited to three pieces, and not exceeding 4’6”x 8’ in size.

The Old Church Fine Arts Show will run from October 1 to October 9, with an opening reception on September 30. For further information, call Deb Kennedy at 344-2110.

Corrales Bosque Gallery calls for artists

Applications are now available for artists wanting to become members of the Corrales Bosque Gallery. This is an artists’-owned gallery in the heart of the historic village of Corrales. Currently, the gallery is especially looking for artists working  in watercolor, pastel, and fiber. The gallery juries every month on the second Tuesday. The next jurying will be August 9 at 7:00 p.m. The Corrales Bosque Gallery has a 22-year reputation for excellence in fine art by a very active artist membership. 

Application and further information is available at, or by visiting the gallery at 4685 Corrales Road in Corrales, open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 898-7203.

Four Corners Folk Festival—all-ages music festival, not far away

The 21st Annual Four Corners Folk Festival will take place September 2, 3, and 4 on Reservoir Hill in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The event features live performances and music workshops from some of today’s most popular touring bands in the folk, bluegrass, and Americana music genres. This year’s stellar lineup is The Del McCoury Band, The Milk Carton Kids, Sara Watkins, the O’Connor Band featuring Mark O’Connor, Darrell Scott, the Black Lillies, John Fullbright, Sierra Hull, The East Pointers, The Lonely Heartstring Band, Rose’s Pawn Shop, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Songs of the Fall, Coral Creek, and Trout Steak Revival.

Music lovers get to enjoy close up and intimate sets either under the big tent (which holds 1300 people) or spread out in the lovely meadow overlooking the San Juan Mountains. People travel from all over the U.S. to attend what many fans of the event have started to call “The Bestival.” The attractions are many: the all-ages music festival has something for everyone, including beautiful on-site camping in the Ponderosa pine forest; free shows and activities for children in the Four Corners Kids Tent; late-night unplugged sets at the Ponderosa Pavilion; camp jams of the highest caliber; a selection of food vendors, plus a beer and wine garden; a merchandise vendor expo; morning yoga on Saturday and Sunday; and music workshops open to all festival-goers.

The Four Corners Folk Festival is funded in part with a matching grant from Colorado Creative Industries. Children 12 and under receive free admission when accompanied by a paying adult. A free app is available for Apple and Android products; search “FolkWest” in your app store. Additional information, including performance schedule, ticket prices, camping info, etc., is available online at

Detail: Perea Spring, by Sylvia Warner

Tanager, by David Torney

“Biome—Naturally Together” comes to Jemez

Fiber artist Sylvia Warner and wildlife photographer David Torney have joined talents to present an intriguing side-by-side show of tapestries and photographs featuring the landscapes and wildlife of north and central New Mexico.

Warner’s tapestries add a note of fantasy to the exhibit, as shown by one fiber art piece she calls “At the Bell Towers”—towering rock formations suggesting a unique natural spot, a place for bells.

Torney’s photography offers unforgettable insight into the natural world—a recent study allows viewers to look directly into the eyes of a bear up a tree.

An artists’ reception will be held on Saturday, August 13, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Jemez Fine Art Gallery in Jemez Springs.

“Biome—Naturally Together” runs from August 12 through August 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Tuesdays,

Santa Fe Opera offers stellar performances through August

The Santa Fe Opera’s 2016 season presents a dazzling quintet of love stories spanning almost three centuries. Comic, tragic, contemplative and adventurous, they show every kind of romantic complication—and women taking charge of their destinies.

  • La Fanciulla del West, by Giacomo Puccini—the story of Minnie, the indomitable heroine of The Girl of the Golden West, who can hold her own with the boys at her saloon. She loves her solitary life in the mountains, but she loves her man more. Puccini deemed La Fanciulla del West his best opera; critics call it his most “perfectly crafted score.”
  • Don Giovanni, by Amadeus Mozart—funny, terrifying, romantic, and tragic. Mozart’s setting of the Don Juan story is an opera with everything, including some of the greatest music ever composed for the lyric stage. Is Don Giovanni a rogue or a sociopath? Are his women victims, or willing accomplices?
  • Roméo Et Juliette, by Charles Gounod—graceful melody, French elegance and superb musical craft. But in the lush tunefulness of Roméo et Juliette we hear something more: the sound of youth and of overwhelming love. Gounod's music makes the heart leap and the rest of the world seem to disappear as he immerses us in one of the greatest of all romances.
  • Capriccio, by Richard Strauss—“In choosing one, will I lose the other?” The opera that Strauss called his “conversation piece for music.” Two women of intoxicating allure—the incomparably sophisticated Countess Madeleine and her friend Clairon, a beautiful actress—are irresistible to the poet Olivier and his rival Flamand, a composer.
  • Vanessa, by Samuel Barber—“Say you love me, or leave this house forever.” Secure in the comforts of her opulent surroundings, Vanessa is a woman haunted. The mirrors are shrouded and the clocks are stopped, as they have been since she was abandoned by her lover years ago. Now, with the arrival of a handsome stranger – the young Anatol – a gothic love story unfolds.

The 2016 season opera performances continue through August 27. Full details of this year’s remaining season schedule and ticket information can be found at:

Painting by Kathy Cheline Erdman

Artwork from Elaine Slusher’s painting class on display at Placitas Library

The Placitas Community Library is hosting an exhibit of paintings by the Placitas Community Center painting class taught by Elaine Slusher. Elaine is a retired professional artist and Signature member of the New Mexico Watercolor Association and the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies. She has exhibited in many shows, including the Placitas Artist Series. 

Elaine has taught a fun and supportive weekly painting class at the Placitas Community Center for fifteen years. Paintings in the exhibit range from realism to abstraction, oil to watercolor and pencil. The exhibit will be on display starting July 30 and will run through September 1. A free artists’ reception will be held on August 13, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

Top of Page

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Sandoval Arts   Business Classifieds  Calendar   Community Bits  Community Center  Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Sky  My Wife and Times  Public Safety  Real  People  Stereogram  Time Off  Youth