The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Joe Cocker gets by with a little help from his friends

Barb Belknap

Joe Cocker at the Santa Ana Star CasinoJoe Cocker vibrates with the music

Last month Joe Cocker traveled from his ranch in Colorado to perform at Santa Ana Star Casino. My husband, Ty, and I listened to Mad Dogs and Englishmen all day to prepare for what we hoped would not be another sixties icon going through the motions of geezer rock.

Tony Joe White (who drawled something about having a place in Taos) opened the show with several gems of laid-back Louisiana blues leading up to his big hit "Poke Salad Annie." Ty loved that song when back in high school—you know the one: "’Gators got your granny, haow haow haow haow . . ."

The small crowd was primed for Joe Cocker when he came on stage with his nine-piece band and launched into "Hot Town–Summer in the City" with a hot reggae beat and backup singers doing the bugaloo and the skate. Multi-colored rotating psychedelic snowflakes and blue stars lit the stage. Joe has lost that “mad dog” look, probably along with a few bad habits, and now appeared strong, clean-shaven, and healthy.

Nobody sings like Joe Cocker. There was no mistaking the power and passion of his voice, the wild energy released through his hands. He threw back his head and belted out all his big hits to the delight of the crowd, which responded repeatedly with standing ovations.

Through the mist of a smoke machine he sang “You Are So Beautiful,” sounding better than ever when he hit that last tortuous high note. From his new album came "Respect Yourself" with inspired backup from the grand piano and wailing electric-guitar lead. Cocker jerked a few tears with Randy Newman's "Every Time it Rains." It seemed fitting for the Englishman to sing about rain, so soulful and sweet—"Every time it rains I realize how lonely my life's going to be." Oh God!

The crowd was on its feet for "Unchain My Heart" and again as Cocker closed on “With a Little Help from My Friends" and launched into an encore of "Feelin' Alright" and "Cry Me a River." What a great show—and right here in Bernalillo!

Marketing manager Phil Gonzales told us that the casino has gotten a little carried away with the big acts that it has brought to town and wants to concentrate more on making Santa Ana Star a "hometown casino." They lost money on Bob Dylan. We hope they continue to bring this kind of show to their intimate, hometown venue where great entertainment is no gamble.


Willy Sucre and Friends play flute, violin, viola trios

Gary Libman
Placitas Artists Series
Board of Directors

On Sunday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m., the Placitas Artists Series is presenting another outstanding concert featuring Willy Sucre and Friends. This month’s concert will be a selection of flute trios by Beethoven, Max Reger, and Gustav Holst. The pieces will be Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major for Flute, Violin and Viola, Op. 25, Reger’s Serenade for Flute, Violin and Viola, Op. 141, and Holst’s Terzetto. Once again, Willy Sucre will be bringing in outstanding musicians to perform with him. Joining him will be flutist Monica Daniel and violinist Krzysztof Zimowski.

Willy Sucre is well known to Placitas Artists Series concertgoers. He has served as conductor and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Canada Symphony Orchestra and the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Krzysztof Zimowski is also well known to PAS patrons. He has performed a number of times over the years in the PAS Series. Currently, Zimowski is concertmaster of the NMSO and the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque, where he is a featured soloist. Every summer he performs with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in Chicago’s famous Lakefront Music Festival. Monica Daniel is currently the principal flutist of the Santa Fe Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque and the associate principal flutist of the NMSO. She also plays in the IRIS Chamber Orchestra in Germantown, Tennessee.

The concert will be held as always at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). There will be an artists’ reception at the church before the concert. This month’s featured artists are Nina Adkins, Bianca Härle, Karl and Mary Hofmann, and Sheila Richmond. Please view samples of the artists’ work on the PAS Web page at

Nina Adkins has been deeply influenced by the colors and mountains of the Southwest for as long as she can remember. She loves the luminosity and transparency that water media afford and hopes that her love for New Mexico and the Southwest is evident in her paintings. Bianca Härle has combined her interest in architecture with her passion for painting, by creating images of the old adobe structures of this region. Her fascination is with the sensuality of this architectural style, which she considers to possess a nurturing and embracing quality. Karl and Mary Hofmann bring many influences to their pottery. Their art, which is always quite popular here, shows the influence of the Southwest landscape outside of their Placitas studio. Sheila Richmond, president of the Pastel Society of New Mexico, began to explore pastels when she moved to New Mexico. She has recently also returned to oils, finding the two media compatible.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concerts, or can be purchased ahead of time at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in the Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas (867-3333). Tickets can also be purchased on line. The prices for this concert are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. For additional information and ticket brochures, call 867-8080 or visit

Treat yourself to this wonderful concert and view the art exhibit at the acoustically superb Las Placitas Presbyterian Church..

You will be seated very close to the musicians and you will enjoy yourself while helping support local artists and musicians.

Concerts are partially funded by a grant from New Mexico Arts, a division of the Office of Cultural Affairs. There is access for the handicapped and free child care for children under six.


State music educators to hold conference, festival

The New Mexico Music Educators All-State Conference and Music Festival meets in Albuquerque January 8-11at the UNM Center for the Arts. There are 875 selected music students participating and four hundred-plus music educators.

Concerts open to the public are:

Albuquerque Boy Choir, January 9, 3:00 p.m., Keller Hal;

NMMEA Honor Concerts by the Mayfield High School Madrigal Singers, the Farmington High School String Workshop, and the Rio Rancho High School Wind Symphony, January 9, 7:45 p.m., Popejoy Hall

Community concerts featuring the Eldorado High School Screamin’ Eagles Jazz Band, the Duke City Men’s Chorus, and the Albuquerque Concert Band, January 10, 7:30 p.m., Popejoy Hall

NMMEA festival concerts are performed by New Mexico students selected by audition and conducted by nationally known conductors. All festival concerts are held on January 11 in Popejoy Hall on the UNM campus. Admission at the door is $5 for adults, $2 for students. Each concert requires separate admission. The All State Festival Orchestras will perform at 9:30 a.m.; All State Festival Bands at 11:45 a.m.; and All State Festival Choirs at 2:45 p.m.


Desire and devotion

Carl Hertel

Vajravarahi, Nepal, ca. 1400, painted, unfired clay modeled over metal armatureVajravarahi, Nepal, ca. 1400, painted, unfired clay modeled over metal armature

“Desire and Devotion” is an extraordinary and beautifully mounted exhibition at the Albuquerque Museum which presents works from India, Nepal, and Tibet covering several millennia.

The exhibition reflects the “desire and devotion” in John and Berthe Ford’s lifetime of collecting by which the catalogue says “explores the intimate relationship of everyday desires to the emotions of spiritual devotion.”

I am not quite certain what is meant by this, but I'm helped by the fact that back in the fifties Professor Benjamin Rowland at Harvard taught us a great deal about the arts of India and South Asia. One of his favorite themes was “metaphorical abstraction,” the manner in which Indian artisans composed religious images. In this mode of composing, an eye is not delineated as a human eye but as an idealization of the perfect form of a pipal leaf, and an arm as the trunk of an elephant, the torso as the muzzle of a lion, and so on and so forth until the image is complete.

Many of the sensuous figures filling this exhibition are in fact composites of idealized plant and animal forms regarded as appropriate to the divinities represented. Some are part human and part animal. Body and spirit, or desire and devotion, are inseparable in these images. The erotic tone and the sheer number of entities often found teeming in and around Hindu and certain Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhist temples shock the Western eye and confound the Christian sense of decorum . But there is a bond between Western viewers and this work simply because we can, if we choose, relate to it with our bodies and as creatures of a natural world—without being Hindus, Buddhists, or animists. On the other hand, this work can be difficult because it does challenge our notions about the separation of body and mind, eros and spirit. The work is even more difficult for followers of Islam because it flaunts the Islamic injunction against iconic religious imagery. The Taliban blasting of the colossal figures of Buddha at Bamiyan in Afghanistan was an especially violent reaction to such imagery.

For all that, the works of art in this exhibition represent the highest expressions of the oldest extant culture and are expressions of a world view underlying the lives, hopes, and fears of billions with whom—in an age of globalization—we must find common ground.

The exhibition offers a wonderful opportunity to engage the essence of these cultures, which have their origins in the Vedic religions of the Indus Valley and flourished as Hinduism and later as Buddhism throughout South Asia and beyond. These cultures had contacts with our “Western world” over the centuries. As in India, with the invasions of Alexander the Great to the Muslim conquests to later occupation by the British. Even Tibet, which is fantasized by Americans as a kind of isolated Shangri-la, has harbored competing European and Asian forces (including the CIA) seeking to colonize and exploit the region for two centuries. Today, of course, Communist China has succeeded in conquering Tibet and is rapidly destroying the culture.

Two examples suffice to discuss a broad range of artistic and religious as well as secular expression in the exhibition. The voluptuous A Maiden, A Monkey, and The Mango Tree sculpture from around 850 in north India epitomizes the union of flesh, nature, and spirituality often witnessed in Hindu temple art. The fact that the maiden is merely a bracket supporting the ceiling can’t detract from her erotic yet energetically spiritual qualities. Her pronounced breasts reflect the clustered mangoes over her head, the perfect tree “sweet of flower and fruit” that symbolizes the perfect wife. Her lithe body is composed, as Professor Rowland suggests, of idealized animal and plant forms. The maiden creates a Vedic oneness with the elements of nature in which she finds herself. Grander examples could be found, but none would better embody the entanglement of desire and devotion which is the theme of the collection. The spiritual is here in the juiciness of all life.

Thankas are Tibetan Buddhist paintings that can be rolled up and moved about for ritual purposes. The Ford Collection has many such works, but their Saviour Goddess, (Green ) Tara, from about 1050, is world famous. Green Tara is “revered as compassionate mother of all beings, powerful protectoress, and subjugator of destructive forces. Widely worshiped throughout the world in one or another of her eight manifestations, Tara radiates a joyful and willing compassion. Her green body still reflects Professor Rowland’s metaphorical abstraction with animal and floral-like precision. The function of the thanka is to provide a residence for the energy of the deity; thus the need for great accuracy in the painting, which interacts with the devotee’s visualizations and vocalizations of the deity during worship. In both of these examples the vibrancy of our biological existence in nature commingles with the esoteric energetics of the particular religious orientation involved:desire and devotion become one.

The exhibition is up until January 5. A splendid, elaborately illustrated catalogue by Pratapaditya Pal is available at the museum. For more information, call 505-243-7255.

In the Gallery by Rudi Klimpart




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