Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Signpost Featured Artists

Cindy and Joe McDonnell

Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

Fine art metal workers: Cindy working; Joe grinding

Whimsical, metal tree, 8’x8’x5’ by Cindy and Joe McDonnell

Metal art fire hydrant commission for a doggie B&B, by Cindy and Joe McDonnell

The ArtScapes of Cindy and Joe McDonnell

~Oli Robbins

Cindy and Joe McDonnell are a metalwork-making duo, from Rio Rancho, that creates masterful contemporary sculptures. The collaborators’ artistic virtuosity is reflected in both their small and large-scale pieces, which grow out of an extensive creative process.

Joe and Cindy have been married nearly four decades. They were both graphic artists at Albuquerque The Magazine when they met. Their artistic collaboration dates back to 15 years ago when a common interest in beautifying their home through landscaping and yard decor led to an impressive artistic partnership. Says Joe, “Once Cindy became skilled at welding, the possibilities opened up for us to work together on indoor and outdoor sculpture.”

Cindy’s professional background includes graphic design, printing, and advertising. Joe has worked for decades as a graphic designer and fine artist (he was trained at Paris’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts and through multiple apprenticeships).

As collaborative artists, Cindy is the welder and Joe the designer and colorer. For the commissioned sculpture “Whimsical,” a dynamic 8x8x5-foot metal tree, Joe initiated the process by conceiving of the form and hand-drawing it on a paper grid—as he does for each “ArtScape” they create. The two then mounted a piece of sheet metal to a frame and shot the metal with a shotgun hundreds of times to achieve a pebble-like surface. It was then cut, welded, ground, and assembled.

Paper templates of smaller, undulating forms became cut metal, bent to shape, and welded into position on the larger piece. After being tinted with various colors (chosen and applied by Joe), “Whimsical” was powder coated—a process wherein the metal is coated with powder via an electrical charge and then oven-baked—and finally transported to its permanent location.

While “Whimsical” demanded several months and hundreds of hours of work, other (smaller) “ArtScapes” can be completed relatively quickly. Cindy and Jim explain, “It’s exciting to discover what’s hidden in the raw sheet of steel. We’re taking the mundane and turning it into something extraordinary.” Indeed, their body of work is teeming with movement, color harmonies, and a sometimes-tense balance between forms. The artists are masters of line and shape; their work celebrates the interplay of the once-separate pieces comprising the whole.

Joe has identified as a fine artist for much of his life, having been exposed to canonical art since childhood, when he traveled the world in a military family. “The museums and cultural events stayed with me,” says Joe, who studied both commercial and fine art in college. Joe was also surrounded by craftsmanship in his formative years, through his father’s woodworking. The woodworking machinery that Joe familiarized himself with all those years ago is similar to that used by the McDonnells today.

Cindy explains that, at times, the two will have differing perceptions of a piece when in the early creative stages. She remembers welding a piece, believing herself to be following Joe’s drawing (which she usually prints to size), when he looked at the work-in-progress and said, “Well that’s not what I drew.” Cindy replied, “but that’s what I see.”

It’s not uncommon for Cindy and Joe to pause as they adjust to the other’s interpretation of their vision. Still, they are largely satisfied with their collection of work—which is teeming with the energy of not one, but two artistic forces. They explain, “Our collaboration is synergistic, resulting in far more than the merging of two imaginations. Together, we have created an inspired, dynamic, and sometimes whimsical collection of innovative and collectible metal art.”

The McDonnells have received numerous awards for their artwork, winning first and second place in their division at the NM State Fair art show. Much of their work is in Scottsdale at DeRubeis Fine Art Metal, but there are many opportunities to see their work here in NM. Several pieces were selected by the New Mexico Art in Public Places Program to adorn public spaces throughout the state, and can be found at the West Mesa Community Center, the Jeanne Bellamah Community Center, and the Jarales Community Center in Belen.

As members of the Rio Rancho Art Association, Cindy and Joe have work on display at the Association’s various venues, including Lovelace Hospital. Visit to view their galleries of work and watch footage of their process, and see their work in person at Old Town Albuquerque’s Copper Top Gallery, or Lilly’s Soaps in Old Town.

They can be reached by email at or by phone at 459-8050.

Samples of art by Brenda McSwain to be shown in the Placitas Community Center artists’ show at the Placitas Community Library:

Color Wheel #

Summer Harvest

Trash Talking Quail


Placitas Community Center painters show at Placitas Library

The exhibit of paintings by the Placitas Community Center Painting Class, taught by Elaine Slusher, runs from July 29 through August 31 in the Collin room of the Placitas Community Library. The Featured Artist this year is Brenda McSwain. A free public reception will be held on August 13, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Summer musical events at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church

There will be many musical events held at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church this coming month.

August 13: Throat singing by Michael Crofoot and Friends. Local resident Michael Crofoot and friends will present visitors with throat singing to include songs of adoration, exaltation, and lamentation.

August 18: Community potluck with Mission San Antonio, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Join the community for a fun, relaxed evening of food and music. All are welcome.

August 18-20: Welcome Ana Hernandez, guest artist and workshop leader 

August 19: Free Workshop “HeartSong: Building Communities of Practice,” from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (lunch for nominal fee). Reservations required. Ana invites the community to build its collective voice, learn to play together, say yes to the Spirit, and be transformed. There will be singing, drumming, movement, and group improvisation. All are welcome.

August 20: Sunday Worship Music and Songline at 9:30 a.m. at the LPPC Sanctuary 

August 27: Guest Artist Willy Sucre will share his music and personal Songline with the congregation and visitors during the worship service at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Willy Sucre is a violist with the Albuquerque Philharmonic. He also presents five “Willy Sucre and Friends” concerts for the Placitas Artists Series. Come hear how a remarkable Bolivian native brought his love of chamber music to the United States.

The church is located at 7 Paseo de San Antonio in Placitas. For more information about any of the events, or to make reservations for certain events, call 867-5718 or go to

New art at Corrales Bosque Gallery

Corrales Bosque Gallery has a new show opening on August 6, featuring their two newest members, Cristina Sanchez MacGuigg, a clay sculpturist, and Margaret Scott Sawyer, glass artist. There will be a reception on that opening day from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. This Anniversary Show is themed, “Then and Now.” The gallery, located at 4685 Corrales Road, is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. For more information, call 898-7203  or go to

Artists set up for last year’s Visionary Arts and Crafts show

Visionary Arts and Crafts Guild shows 

~Susan Sheridan, President, Visionary Arts and Crafts Guild

The Visionary Arts and Crafts Guild will host their August Show, featuring Guild members selling their arts and crafts on August 12 at the Pongal Event Center, 1101 Golf Course Boulevard, Ste. 102, in Rio Rancho. The event is free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. August show attendees will be entered into drawings for ten dollar gift certificates. One of the guild members will be providing a demonstration on jewelry-making techniques. The Guild members will be selling items handcrafted in glass, woodwork, knitting, crochet, clay, photography, acrylics, jewelry, cards, paper, and scale miniature items.

The Rio Rancho EHES Girl Scout Troop 10676 will have a complimentary table selling their items to attendees. Live music will be provided by “Urban Sage” during the show. The next Visionary Arts & Crafts Show will be held in March of 2018—location to be announced.

For more information, go to or contact Susan Sheridan at, or 340-5846.

Placitas Community Center presents a Glass Mosaic Workshop

~Joan Jander

A fused glass group, led by Cathryne Richards and Ellen Baker, will be held on August 8 and 22. The classes will be from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. each day. There is a kit fee of $20. This will be a hands-on workshop, all about using glass, tiles, dots, and fused glass pieces to make beautiful mosaics. Class size will be limited to 15 people, so sign up early. The Fused Glass Open Workshop continues each second and fourth Tuesday at the Community Center; to join you must have completed the Beginners Glass Class taught at the Center in the fall. Call 867-1396 to reserve your spot for this class.

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