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Linda and Gene McClain

Arte de Placitas owners Linda and Gene McClain relax in front of their Placitas “hybrid” co-op.

c. Gene McClain

A few of the many retablos in Gene McClain’s large body of work. Photo credits: Oli Robbins

Signpost featured artist
Arte de Placitas: where art meets community

—Oli Robbins

By now you’ve probably noticed that the Rock’n R gallery in Homestead Village Shopping Center has a new name. It also has new artists, new owners, and a new personality. Now called Arte de Placitas and owned by Gene and Linda McClain, this local venue no longer showcases the art of just four artists, but rather boasts an eclectic grouping of artwork by 27 artists. Nearly all of the artists represented reside in Placitas, so it’s not surprising that the gallery is very community-focused.

The McClains refer to the gallery as a “hybrid co-op,” which has three levels of artists. “Featured Artists” are those artists who chip in on rent and work in the gallery several days per week, while “Friends of the Gallery” are artists who either assist with rent or work three hours per week, and “Consignment Artists” are those who neither work nor assist with the rent. Featured Artists and Friends of the Gallery receive a higher percentage of sales for works sold than consignment artists. Says Linda of the Featured Artists and Friends of the Gallery, “we couldn’t do it without them. That’s where the community thing comes in. We couldn’t do it alone.... The camaraderie has been amazing.” Luckily, community is also important to the McCallisters, who own the Homestead Village Shopping Center. Says Gene, “It’s great that our landlords have been really supportive of the transition. They like things to be community-oriented.” That the gallery includes the art of so many locals, many of whom can be found working alongside their art, has helped generate traffic. Says Linda, “All the new workers we have that are part of the community help make it a place that people like coming to visit.” Upcoming concerts and other events and activities to be hosted by the gallery will likewise draw people in.

Gene is a seasoned veteran of the gallery and co-op scene, but for Linda, working in the art world is brand new. Linda, who this Spring retired from the public schools of Bernalillo, where she worked as a staff level occupational therapist, is happy in her new gig. “I love it!” says Linda. “I’ve been using my left brain too much.” Linda still puts her left brain to work at times, however. She makes an effort to get to know the artistic process and philosophy of each of the artists she carries and tries to invest potential buyers in “who the artist is as a person.” Gene and Linda make a great team, for, as Linda puts it, “I like selling. He likes making.”

Gene and Linda are confident that the unique nature of the gallery will ensure its success. Community is the common link among the artists, rather than style or technique. So while the co-owners aren’t looking for art that looks any particular way, they do care about attitude. Says Linda, “The premise was only positive energy in here.” The gallery displays art in a variety of mediums, and carries both the functional and the decorative. The McClains don’t use a formula to determine what artwork they will carry, relying on their instincts instead. The paintings, photography, jewelry, furniture, sculpture, and pottery that endow the gallery with its dynamic, upbeat feel, range in price and character. Linda explains that they “have different areas of variety. Some artists are very well-known in the community and some are people who have never shown their art anywhere. We have very experienced artists and novice artists, affordable art and expensive art.” The McClains hope the diverse nature of their collection works to their advantage. Says Linda, “We would like someone to come in each month and say, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this before.’ We want to be a destination.”

A large selection of Gene’s humorous, whimsical, and sometimes satirical furniture and retablos can be found in the back of the gallery. A self-proclaimed scatterbrain and “art jock,” Gene’s work is partially inspired by art history and religious art. Pulling his subjects from history and popular culture—Gene’s best sellers are his Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan retablos—Gene likes it when his work conjures various associations and prompts viewers to ask, “Why are you doing that?” For Gene, it is more important to invent than to master. “The main thing is invention. You don’t master until the sales start happening. Basically, I was taught to invent and create.” Gene regards many of his artworks as dear friends, and feels somewhat disappointed when something sells. “It’s a friend of mine,” Gene explains. “I’ve loved having it around, and I’m going to miss it.”

Gene puts his artistic capabilities to good use as co-owner of the gallery.  Most of the gallery’s furniture and display cases—some of which rival the artwork itself in quality and appeal—have been made or creatively reinterpreted by Gene. Says Gene, “I worked for interior designers part time when I was teaching, so I have a feel for stuff.” Indeed, it takes an artist’s eye to fill a somewhat small space with such assorted art without making it feel too cluttered.

Whether you’ve already said hello to the new gallery, its owners and artists, or not, be sure to stop by on July 21 for the grand opening. The gallery will open at 10:00 a.m., and the opening will take place from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. You can look forward to enjoying refreshments as you visit with many of the gallery’s talented artists.

Arte de Placitas is located at 221 Highway 165 in Placitas. Visit to learn more about the gallery’s structure and its many artists. The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. To make an appointment call 505-228-9128.

Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale calls for artists

—Nancy Couch

Applications for artists are now available for the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale. This popular and well-attended show is the weekend before Thanksgiving and will be held on November 17 and 18 at three central locations in the village of Placitas. Artists do not have to be from Placitas to apply. This is a juried show and all artists will need to submit digital images of their work.

The application is posted at Here artists can print the application for mailing. If you need an application sent to you, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Placitas Holiday Sale, 3 Canon del Apache, Placitas, NM 87043.

All applications must be postmarked by July 20, 2012.

Corrales Bosque Gallery calls for artists

The Corrales Bosque Gallery is calling for new member artists. The gallery will be jurying in new candidates on July 14 at 9:00 a.m. Applications and artwork to be juried must be delivered to the Corrales Bosque Gallery before 5:00 p.m. on July 13 and picked up July 14 after 12:00 p.m.

Applications and membership requirements are available at the Corrales Bosque Gallery at 4685 Corrales Road in Corrales or at

c. Jade Leyva

Dancing Flowers for You, painting (detail), by Jade Leyva

Placitas Community Library presents Jade Leyva’s “The Art of Magical Realism”

Jade Leyva’s experience as a painter has taken her on a journey of discovery; her work is an exploration of the beauty of the world around us and within us.

Painter, photographer, potter, and more, Jade Leyva is making a name for herself as one of the Southwest’s most original artists. Hailing from Mexico City, she now calls New Mexico home. Her paintings are shown and sold around the country and region including galleries in Santa Fe, Phoenix, Jackson Hole, Albuquerque, San Francisco, and others. She has been tapped to create images for nationally recognized events including ¡Globalquerque! 2009, the 2010 League of United Latin American Citizens national convention, and the 2010 New Mexico Wine Festival. Her images have appeared on the covers of publications, including Malpais Review, Sustainable Santa Fe, and the recently published novel Rhythm Of My Heart, by Frances Fanning.

Leyva’s work reflects influences ranging from pre-Colombian to post-modern. It is at times whimsical, celebratory, and reflective, yet always thought-provoking and expressive—a visual “magical realism.” Her recently published book, A Little Bird Told Me / Mi lo dijo un parajito is not simply a retrospective of her paintings up to 2011, but a treatise on the central themes of her art: love, unity, and one’s relationship with Mother Earth.

An artist’s reception for Jade Leyva will be held at the Placitas Community Library on July 13, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

Jemez Mountain’s Bear Paw Quilt Guild’s fourth annual show

On July 27 and 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the Jemez Mountain Bear Paw Quilt Guild will present their fourth annual Show of Patriotic Quilts and an arts and crafts sale at the Jemez Pueblo Walatowa Visitor Center located in the Red Rocks area north of Jemez Pueblo on Highway 4. Patriotic-themed quilts, which are presented at ceremonies at the Veteran’s Park in Albuquerque, will be shown. Handcrafted items will be for sale as a fundraiser for the Guild. Admission is free and open to the public. For further information, contact 575-834-7235.

New call for art—Los Duranes Community Center project

The Albuquerque Arts Board, the Family and Community Services Department of New Mexico, and the Los Duranes Art Selection Committee have initiated a “one percent for Art” project for the entrance to the Los Duranes Community Center. The center is on schedule for a total renovation, and artists are asked to submit their qualifications for this project. The deadline for submissions is July 6 at 5:00 p.m.

Visit for further information, including the prospectus and a video describing the neighborhood and context for the artwork.

To learn more about Albuquerque’s Public Art and Urban Enhancement Program projects and other arts and cultural planning initiatives, visit the website or email to Their mission statement is: “Enhancing our community through exceptional public art by embracing a transparent process that reflects the diversity and interests of Albuquerque.”

Call for artists: Twenty-fourth Old Church Fine Art Show

The Visual Arts Council of the Corrales Historical Society will be jurying and hosting an art show from October 5 to October 14, and are calling for artists to submit their work. The Visual Arts Council of the Corrales Historical Society will accept up to three works of fine art. The work is to be original in concept and execution and be priced to sell at $2,500 or under. Work will be accepted for artist jurying on August 22 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. or August 23 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, at the Old San Ysidro Church—966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro.

Judges for this year’s show are Charron McFadden, VAC Best of Show 2011; Barbara Clark, artist; and Jeannie Sellmer, artist. Entry forms will be available when work is left at Old Church. Entries are also available by callling 301-0042. The entry fee is thirty dollars, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope is also needed. A fifteen percent donation will be taken from sales. Net proceeds are used for restoration and maintenance of the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales and the programs of the Corrales Historical Society. For details, call Bev Darrow at 301-0042.

“Perspectives” showcases photo-based art, benefits Pathways

Perspectives was born in May of 2009 with a mission of embracing excellence, originality, and innovation in all photo-based art. The group has grown from its original four members to seven, each with a different style and vision, but all influenced by the spell of light, space, and time that New Mexico casts on those who live here.

In “Light, Space, and Time,” Tom Baker, Ruth Bilowus Butler, Joe Cabaza, Fernando Delgado, Joan Fenicle, Marie Maher, and Barry McCormick will present their interpretations of New Mexico, in the spirit of the great photographers who have come before them. The works will be shown at The Commissioner’s Gallery, 310 Old Santa Fe Trail in Santa Fe, from July 2 through July 30. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. An artist reception will be held on July 6 at the Gallery from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. A portion of sales will be donated to the Placitas nonprofit Pathways: Wildlife Corridors of New Mexico. The exhibit is open to the public and admission is free. For further details, visit

Eisenstadt shares memoir

Pauline Eisenstadt will share her experiences as written in her new memoir, A Woman in Both Houses: My Career in New Mexico Politics on July 1 at 2:00 p.m. on the portal at Coronado State Monument, 485 Juaua Road and Highway 550 in Bernalillo. Copies of her book will be available for purchase and signing. This is a presentation of Friends of Coronado State Monument.

Leich Lathrop Gallery debuts

Albuquerque’s newest gallery, located at Plazuela Sombra, 323 Romero St. SW, Suite 1 in Old Town, and owned by Chuck Lathrop of Rio Rancho, will be open as of June 1. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Leich Lathrop Gallery’s opening show will feature the owner’s abstract paintings, drawings, and sculptures. A reception will be held on June 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Leich Lathrop Gallery is unique in that it specializes in works on, with, or of paper including paintings, photographs, collages, drawings, prints and sculpture. The gallery will feature artists from New Mexico and New England in a variety of styles and media. In addition to art, the gallery will also offer imported Japanese and Asian papers for artists and craftspeople.

“Tunes, tapestries, and transcending time” opens in T or C

To celebrate Independent Retailers Month, Celestial Creations Enchanted Gifts of New Mexico is hosting a special reception on July 14 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at their gallery located at 220 N. Date Street in Truth or Consequences (or T or C as the locals call it).

For the first time, the art of Linda Heath, a Placitas artist specializing in the relatively new genre of fusionism will be presented there. ‘Fusionism’ is a blending of the old and the new, the past with the future, in a way that goes beyond the old phrase of ‘mixed media’. Heath says, “The hallmark of fusionism is the creation of a new wholeness that blurs the lines among different cultures, old versus new media, different time periods, and human versus machine-generated work.” Starting with photos from NASA’s Hubble telescope, which she has printed on canvas, she continues by applying an isolation layer, then paints New Mexican Kachinas and other Native American spirits in acrylic polymers and oil. The resulting fusion of past and future draws you into the vision of the artist—one of ancient spiritual guides transcending time to lead modern society toward the exploration of space and our future destiny.

Weaver Shirley Russo of Las Cruces, the fiber artist behind “Weave Me Alone” one-of-a-kind tapestries, scarves and shawls, and guitarist Mark Humble also will be featured. For information, visit or call 575-894-7591.

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