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FEATURED ARTISTS:

GENE MC CLAIN

JIM FISH

ARTURO CHAVEZ

ANGEL ROSE

LYNNE KOTTEL

KATHERINE HOWARD

ALVARO ENCISO

BARRY McCORMICK

BARTLEY JOHNSON

KATRINA LASKO

EDWARD GONZALES

GARY ROLLER

SUSAN JORDAN

BIANCA HÄRLE

MARCIA FINKELSTEIN

LYNN HARTENBERGER

DAVID W. CRAMER

MICHAEL PROKOS

LAURA ROBBINS

SUSAN GUTT

EVEY JONES

GARY W. PRIESTER

GENE McCLAIN

DAWN WILSON-ENOCH

LINDA HEATH

MARY CARTER

LISA CHERNOFF
 
JON WILLIAM LOPEZ

SARA LEE D'ALESSANDRO

RUDI KLIMPERT

DIANNA SHOMAKER

BUNNY BOWEN

ED GOODMAN

GARY SANCHEZ

MARILYN AND HERB DILLARD

GERALDINE BRUSSEL

SAMANTHA McCUE ECKERT

SHARON SCHWARTZMANN

JIM FISH

C.E. FRAPPIER

TONY PARANÁ-RODRIGUES

FERNANDO DELGADO

JB BRYAN

LORNA SMITH

KATRINA LASKO

BILL FREEMAN

JULIANNA KIRWIN

LENORE & LARRY GOODELL

RIHA ROTHBERG AND WAYNE MIKOSZ

KATHERINE SLUSHER

MEG LEONARD


For more great local art, visit
Placitas Artists.com

Sandoval Signpost Featured Artist Gallery

Meg Leonard in her studio

Morning by Meg Leonard

Winter Sky by Meg Leonard

Signpost featured artist of the month:

Meg Leonard

Interacting with mind, heart, and memory

— KEIKO OHNUMA

“Life is too short for white walls!”

The website quip advertises her services in faux finish, or decorative painting, on walls and other interior surfaces. But it could just as easily be a motto for Meg Leonard, a landscape painter and pastel artist whose every utterance oozes color—evocative, atmospheric, suggestive, and exuberant color—after so many decades in which she struggled to stay neatly within the lines.

Leonard, who moved to Placitas last year, is finally filling in the sketch of her own destiny, a semi-secret, somewhat guilty desire to break free of the walls of wife, mother, and nurse in the wintry Midwest to live her summer art escapades year-round.

The fatal attraction began with a camping trip taken with a few other nurses when she was still in her twenties. Nurses being in such high demand, the women took three months off to camp out west—an Ohio girl’s first venture past the Mississippi River. “That first trip west was such a pivotal experience that I kept doing it every year,” Leonard laughs, her eyes reflecting the sun sinking below her Placitas patio wall.

Even after she married, moved to Wisconsin, and raised a family, Leonard would leave her nursing job every summer to escape out west and paint. She quickly turned to pastels, which are portable, quick, and easy to use outdoors (where she still prefers to work), without the need for carting along brushes or liquids.

New Mexico caught her eye in 1977. Like so many artists, Leonard said, “I felt this was where I belonged,” and she determined to live here someday. She came back often, either with friends or by making friends, and eventually had stints of house sitting or temporary work as a nurse. “I always met people who understood why I wanted to be here so badly, and they made it easy for me,” she says simply. All summer long, she would draw the land and sky.

“At home in winter, I would develop ideas that got started out here,” she said. “The strongest work came not from direct observation, but from memory. In the studio at night, I would put on music and could remember—it would be more about color, story, feeling. The work may not look narrative, but it’s narrative to me.”

Leonard describes her work as “perceptionist,” meaning that her landscapes strive less for faithful representation of how something looks than for rendering how it interacts with the mind, heart, and memory. “I want to portray the essential color relationships and minimize the superfluous detail, to facilitate more of an imaginative response to my work,” she says.

Though she credits an early talent for “close observation” for bringing her to both art and nursing, what Leonard observes in nature is not visible to most people except by her hand. Violet-blue hills tinged scarlet by the setting sun sink into an aquamarine sky. The Rio Grande cuts a deep crimson scar across the earth blackened by night under a shower of stars. The pieces that catch someone’s breath, she says, give her the greatest thrill—whether or not the memory evoked matches her original intention.

In 2004, Leonard bought her Placitas home overlooking both the Sandias and the sweeping vistas to the west; she paints in a small skylit room downstairs, having recently returned to the more deliberate medium of oil on canvas. Though she left nursing four years ago to practice faux finish painting in Atlanta, it took three more years of closing out her lives back east to make the move to New Mexico permanent last March.

“There are so many talented people here [in Placitas], it’s really a privilege to be part of this community that supports artists,” she notes especially of the Placitas Studio Tour and its web page. Leonard’s work is featured at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, where she is also represented at the Galleria Tamaya, as well as at the Dartmouth Street Gallery in Albuquerque.

Her decorative painting work encompasses everything from faux crocodile to cracked plaster effect to embossed or stenciled patterns and hand-painted murals—obviously a source of challenging fun.

“Artists have the best job in the world,” Leonard writes on her website at web.mac.com/megleonard. “We can change a space with our strokes, add life and energy to places that need humanizing. Our higher purpose derives from the inherent sensitivity to serve as social and environmental barometers, hopefully creating to evoke a response in others, a stirring of their soul, awakening a memory.”

The completed portrait of Meg Leonard, in other words, was to be outdoors, in vibrant color.



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