Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


c. Barb Belknap Barb Belknap
Beveled Leaves, stained glass,
by Barb Belknap
Barb Belknap by her stained glass, Quail Vist.

Belknaps’ vision: Clear as glass

—Barb Belknap

Someone once wrote about my artwork: “Barb is the paraphenclius, the greatest artistic force since fermented grapes, the wind in the sails of movement and creation, the first leaf of springtime, a breath of fresh air after a cold winter of stagnancy and bitter, spine-tingling cold; she is the waves of the ocean before a storm, a camera locked in on all those little things that go on deep under the new blades of grass. She is great!” But then, that was my son, and, hey, he wanted the car.

It’s tough for artists to get the press they deserve, the words that describe all that they have been trying to create, convey, and accomplish. It’s not an easy task, making art. Rewarding, but not easy. There is a lot of room for grumbling. But not for me, today.

Today, the Signpost owners asked me to write about how it has been going for me, artistically, for the last two years since Ty and I sold the paper to them. And, though we do miss our old Signpost friends, I can only say that it’s been going really well.

In a sort of “House That Jack Built” scenario, I have managed to make many stained glass windows and mosaics for wonderful folks who, one after the other, saw what I had made for the other and then asked me to make something for them.

To illustrate: Shortly after selling the Signpost in 2008, I made a bamboo-motif mosaic splashback for my mother’s kitchen out of glass and sculpted clay pieces—with some clay tutorage from local mosaic artist-friend Laura Robbins. This was soon seen by my friend Steff who immediately asked me to make a Navajo blanket-inspired glass mosaic with rock accents for her kitchen. Well, then rock collector and artist Mary Alice came wandering by, saw Steff’s mosaic with the rock additions, and had me make a wonderful rock mosaic for her patio. Meanwhile, Placitas acupuncturist John saw those things, told his wife, and so I was able to make a beautiful lotus garden kitchen splashback for them. And on and on—hooray! It’s been such a treat: the process of linking one project to another by taking elements of one thing that someone likes to create a whole new artwork that fits like a puzzle piece into another person’s life.

Since then, I have been so grateful and enjoyed making conglomerate glass-and-natural material creations and revamping my stained glass career that was started in my twenties when I apprenticed with Lana—a woman from Boston with whom I worked for an ecclesiastical art studio group that traveled in the East decorating churches, convents, and monasteries. Oh, yes, truth be told, I have many much more interesting stories than this to tell of those times in my twenties, traveling around with a bunch of carpenters, Russian Orthodox iconographers, and painters in the backs of trucks to pilgrimages and out-of-the-way churches in the Pennsylvania-New York area, to watch reverent monks burst out of steepled buildings stoned on incense smoke with wild-eyed stories of senior abbots levitating around the church grounds in the early morning light; of a time we held a mosaic made with 18K gold-leafed tiles from Italy to a ten-by-twenty-foot monolith with our outstretched arms and bodies in the pouring rain, hoping that the tile cement we had just placed under the pieces would dry before our work crumbled to the ground; of when we glued larger-than-life saints oil-painted on canvas to vaulted ceilings and walls with a mixture of wheat paste and Karo syrup, only to have the church rats eat the feet off all of them overnight.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Right now, the point is to say that I, along with Ty who has always helped in the things I do, am enjoying creating custom glass art for people’s homes very much. Ty has a good eye for color and design; knows how to tile, grind, foil, saw, and solder; and is in charge of our “framing and installation” department. Our company is called Placitas Art Glass, a name I registered in New Mexico when first arriving here in 1986 with a carload of clothing, two little kids, and a plethora of stained glass commissions to finish from the stained glass shop I owned and left behind in Pennsylvania. This is the long story short.

On Sunday, January 23, 2011, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., Barb and Ty Belknap ( will join painter Sarah Hartshorne, mixed media artist Pam Neas, and photographer Bill Tondreau as the featured visual artists at the Placitas Artists Series artists’ reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in Placitas. The art exhibit will be followed by the Placitas Artists Series January concert, “Willy Sucre and Friends Play String Quartets,” which begins at 3:00 p.m. The art exhibit will hang at the church from January 1 to 29.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Willy Sucre and Friends play string quartets  

On Sunday, January 23, 2011, the Placitas Artists Series (PAS) will present Willy Sucre and Friends playing string quartets. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Krzysztof Zimowski and Julanie Collier Lee, with cellist James Holland.

The program should include String Quartet No. 2 in C Major by Grazyna Bacewicz and String Quartet in E Minor, “From My Life,” by Bedřich Smetana.

Violinist Krzysztof Zimowski moved to New Mexico in the fall of 1986 to help form the Helios String Quartet, the ensemble-in-residence of PAS from 1987 until 1997. Zimowski is concertmaster of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and has been concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. Born in Wroclaw, Poland, Zimowski began his musical studies at the age of six. After having been concertmaster of the State Opera Orchestra in his native city of Wroclaw, Zimowski joined the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra in 1981. In 1985, he was appointed concertmaster of the orchestra and toured Europe, South America, and the U.S.

Violinist Julanie Collier Lee began playing the violin at the age of five in Lexington, Kentucky. Lee has freelanced in Cincinnati and Denver and moved to Albuquerque in 1989 to become a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. She is a founding member of the New Life Symphony Orchestra Southwest and plays in various venues throughout the area. With her husband, Jae, she serves as copresident of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Parent Association and has three children.

James Holland hails from Florida and made his home in the southeastern U.S. for many years. In 1996, he successfully auditioned to become principal cellist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and cellist of the Charleston Symphony String Quartet, a position he held until 2007. He recently relocated to the west side of Albuquerque with his wife, Megan, and is the Santa Fe Symphony’s new assistant principal cellist.

The concert is generously sponsored by Jack and Sally Curro.

Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for January exhibiting visual artists Barb Belknap, Sarah Hartshorne, Pam Neas, and Bill Tondreau.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 23, 2011, at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the performance or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas, Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho, or online at Prices are $20 for general admission and $18 for seniors and students.

For more information, call (505) 867-8080.

El Rinconcito Español 

Año nuevo, vida nueva
New year, new life.

Quien a una bestia hace mal es mas bestia que el animal.
He who treats a beast badly is more beast than the animal.

Del poeta y del loco todos tenemos un poco.
Of the poet and of the lunatic, we all have a bit. 

Submitted by, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

c. Barb Belknap


PAS January featured artists

On Sunday, January 23, 2011, at 2:00 p.m., the Placitas Artists Series will present the art of Barb Belknap, Sarah Hartshorne, Pam Neas, and Bill Tondreau with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The works will be on display from the first Saturday of January through the first Friday of February.

Barb Belknap owns Placitas Art Glass. Originally from Pennsylvania, Barb majored in animation and design at Carnegie-Mellon University and worked for three animation studios. In her twenties, she worked as an artist in an ecclesiastical art studio that created stained-glass windows. Belknap opened an art glass studio in New Mexico in 1986, where she met her husband, Ty. Together, they began creating glass art and raising three boys. Seven years later, the Belknaps became owners-publishers of the Signpost newspaper, as well as the founders of Albuquerque Arts magazine. They continued their interest in glass art throughout their publishing careers. Since selling the Signpost in 2008, the Belknaps have enjoyed creating multiple, private art glass commissions.

Sarah Hartshorne came to painting after pursuing four earlier careers. She began her adult life as a classical cellist, playing in symphony orchestras and with chamber music groups, as well as teaching in North, South, and Central America. She then developed an early learning Spanish program and taught young children through schools and day care centers, as well as privately. Later, she built a service business, which she owned and operated for almost nine years. During that time, Sarah returned to school and earned a Masters in Counseling. She worked in mental health, in a great variety of settings, for 12 years before turning to painting. Her many awards include the 2009 Merchant Award, given at Encantada! 2009, the Rio Grande Art Association’s annual juried show in Albuquerque.

Three decades ago, Pam Neas fell in love with Michael and moved to New Mexico. They married, and she pursued her love of Shakespeare. Neas holds the honor of being the first recipient of a Master of Arts in Theatre awarded by the University of New Mexico. She went on to teach theatre for many years. Now retired, she paints. Using inks, watercolor, mica, and pure pigments, Neas paints with sense memory and from emotional responses triggered by the beauty that is the Land of Enchantment. She has shown her work at the New Mexico State Fair fine arts exhibit, Christmas at Clear Light, and other private gallery spaces. She has lived in Placitas for over two decades with her husband, a custom homebuilder.

Thanks to his family’s interest in photography, Bill Tondreau was immediately fascinated by the techniques and imagery that surrounded him in his childhood. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, he refined his photographic skills at the design studio of Charles and Ray Eames. Applying the principles of imagery and design he learned there, he moved on to motion picture visual effects. He has received three Academy Awards for his film work, most recently an Oscar in 2004. Tondreau is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and is an active participant in the New Mexico film industry.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

For more information, call (505) 867-8080, or visit

Preparations for the 14th Annual Placitas Studio Tour underway

Artists who reside or keep their studio in Placitas may be interested in participating in the 14th Annual Placitas Studio Tour, to be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 7 and 8, 2011.

It is not too early to prepare a strong image for the brochure and Web site ( and review the application form still online from 2010. The new application will, as always, go online on February 1, with the deadline on Valentine’s Day, February 14. No major changes are in the works.

The tour has become a well-anticipated event, with attendance growing yearly.

Contact us through the Web site, or call Riha Rothberg at (505) 771-1006.

Michael Milone (Left) delivering books to Dan MacEachen, the Principal of Placitas Elementary School.

NashaArena Press publishes Nasha: The First Dog, a novel by Michael Milone

The lives of humans have been enriched for a thousand generations because of our association with dogs, and nowhere is the genesis of this relationship told more eloquently than in Nasha: The First Dog. Published by Arena Press, the novel tells the story of a determined girl who adopts an abandoned wolf pup and how this simple act of kindness changes the life of her clan. Nasha, as the girl names the wolf, is the catalyst for some of the discoveries that the members of the clan make, discoveries that in the millennia to come will form the foundation of civilization.

Written by first-time novelist Dr. Michael Milone, best known for his work as a research psychologist, the story is laced with facts that reflect our understanding of ancient humans. The book is intended for young readers through high school, although it will be enjoyed by dog lovers of every age.

“In addition to entertaining readers,” says Dr. Milone, “I want them to understand that our ancestors 15,000 years ago were intelligent, persevering, and caring people who were like us in many ways. The human journey is the greatest adventure ever, and along the way, our lives were enriched enormously by our interdependence with dogs.”

Available at bookstores and online through and other distributors, Nasha is action-packed, while avoiding gratuitous violence. Although recognizing that it is a “spoiler,” Dr. Milone insists that readers should know that the wolves are involved through the final chapter and are in the sequel, which will be available in 2010. “Like many people,” he adds, “I found the ending of Old Yeller and other tales involving dogs to be devastating. Readers can be assured that the wolves are unharmed, despite their willingness to protect their humans at any cost.”

Like a number of other writers, Milone recognizes the importance of convincing young people that history and science are cool. He has created a compelling narrative and characters with whom adolescents can identify. The story is built on the quirky coincidences and insights that undoubtedly contributed to the ascent of humans. One early reviewer observed that readers will come away from the book a lot smarter and more aware of how clever our ancestors must have been.

Jim Arena, president of Academic Therapy Publications, the parent company of Arena Press, was determined to publish the book despite the difficult economic times. “The feedback I received from reviewers about Nasha was extremely positive, and I decided that we just had to include the book in our Arena Press line. I also thought of my father, the founder of the company, who guided it through difficult times. One of the authors he took a chance on, Temple Grandin, is autistic. At the time they met, this was a relatively unknown disability, and there was almost no reason to think she would be successful. Temple is now recognized around the world for her writing. Dad was a pioneer in developing assessments, curriculum materials, and books suitable for struggling readers. His willingness to take chances has helped millions of young people, and I believe he would be proud to be associated with Dr. Milone’s novel. I think he would also be pleased to know that an author he published in 1980 is still with the company.”

Michael Milone, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized assessment specialist and award-winning educational writer who began his career as a teacher in general and special education. He earned a Ph.D. in 1978 from Ohio State University, holds a Master of Arts degree from Gallaudet University, and is fluent in American Sign Language. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, Sheri, and a houseful of dogs and cats.





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