Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Signpost featured artist: Lyle Brown

Artist Lyle Brown with some of his paintings
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

Old Barn Charm, pastel, 18x24”, by Lyle Brown

The Blue Wagon, oil painting, 16x20”, by Lyle Brown

Weathered Whereabouts, by Lyle Brown

Signpost featured artist

Lyle Brown: building with paint

—Oli Robbins

A painter is defined as “an artist who paints pictures” and architect is “a person who designs buildings.” Now, we all know how limiting and flat-out erroneous definitions can be, but I’ll concede that, in general, painters do paint, and architects do design structures (which may or may not be buildings). Rio Rancho artist Lyle Brown is both of these things, a creator of aesthetically pleasing compositions, some of them functional, who possesses an undeniable understanding of the visual realm.

Brown knew he was an artist in early childhood, explaining that “it’s either in you, or it’s not.” With an acute sense of observation, Brown has forever examined the visual essence of all things before him, from natural elements to houses. In his later teen years, he decided that he’d like to try his hand at designing structures, and studied architecture (both undergraduate and graduate) at Syracuse University. After his studies he moved to San Francisco and worked at an architecture firm.

Despite feeling gratified as a young architect, Brown wanted to further exercise his creative, unrestrained faculties. So, he took a year off from architecture and enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute. This was the Sixties, and it was a great time to study art in San Francisco. Several of Brown’s teachers were involved in the Bay Area Figurative Movement and Abstract Expressionism, including American painter Richard Diebenkorn.

Diebenkorn’s most famous paintings are at once geometrically structured, texturally layered and reductive. His style resonated with the architecturally-trained and artistically-inclined mind of Brown. During Brown’s one year in art school, he produced fantastic figurative imagery that is loose and energetic. Looking back at those paintings today, Brown admits that he wishes he could still work in such an untethered style, but has “become more conservative” after drafting precise lines for so many years in architecture. To fulfill the needs of his family, Brown soon went back to architecture, and instead of spending his free time painting, he took up photography.

Says Brown, “I didn’t like the idea of isolating myself in a studio, and with photography, you can be out and about in society.” Today, Brown continues to enjoy the boundlessness of the camera—that you can carry home and possess an image from elsewhere—and usually paints from photographs that he’s taken of not-to-be-forgotten scenery.

After eight years in San Francisco, Brown moved back to upstate New York and opened up his own architectural firm. He always approached architecture as form following function—that the appearance of a building should mirror its various purposes, taking into account the day-to-day needs of the inhabitants. Brown left his firm after thirty years and moved out west. He initially envisioned Colorado as a good match because of his predilection for skiing, but after taking a ski trip in New Mexico, he witnessed Native American pottery that hooked him to this Land of Enchantment. He soon after read twenty-some books on New Mexican Native American history and was intrigued by the advanced concepts within Native architecture. “The more I read,” says Brown, “the more I knew it’s where I wanted to go.”

Brown felt sure that he would resume photography during his eventual retirement, but instead, New Mexico prompted him to embrace painting—four decades after his first experimentation with it. It wasn’t until he moved here that he began to recognize the state’s sheer abundance of artistic talent. His first foray into the local art world was at an Expo he attended with a friend. He bought a couple of pastel paintings, and shortly after went to a handful of painting workshops. The workshops and Brown’s year at the Art Institute in San Francisco are the only formal artistic training he’s received. He’s largely self-taught, though feels that architecture disciplined him to be sensitive to the (sometimes abstract) relationship between certain shapes. It’s no coincidence that buildings feature prominently in his paintings, for his eyes continue to perceive and consider the structures in his environment. Says Brown, “If I didn’t move to New Mexico, I might not be an artist at this point.”

He’s frequently inspired by his surroundings, and takes many road trips to nearby locations—stopping short anytime he sees captivating structures or landscapes. He works in both oils and      pastels, and since reinventing himself as a painter ten years ago, his preferred genre is landscape. Most of his works are quiet in tone, and Impressionist in their seeming looseness and ability to express tranquility. He tends to “push color” to achieve “subtle variations” and honestly convey the sentiment of the moment, often missing in photographs. Brown is always drawn to architectural constructions resting alongside the natural. Explains Brown, “as an artist, you look at the world around you and think about composition. I love old buildings with mountains behind them—pictures that have mood.” 

Brown shares a studio with 12 artists at “The Artists’ Studio” in the Hoffmantown Shopping Center. His work is currently displayed at the Hyatt Tamaya gallery, and he welcomes emails at

Create your own exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum

—Deb Slaney, Curator of History, The Albuquerque Museum

The Albuquerque Museum is welcoming the public to suggest ideas for a community history exhibit project. Pioneered at the Brooklyn Historical Society, the community history project's goal is to provide residents the opportunity to tell the extraordinary story of Albuquerque, seen through the lens of the many communities that make up the city. Integrating the community with the Museum is a vital endeavor. "People might be aware of us, but might not know what a fantastic resource we are—a real repository of Albuquerque's history and heritage. It is precisely that heritage we want to showcase."

To obtain an exhibition proposal form, contact Deborah Slaney by email at or 505-764-6514, or go to Applications are being collected until June 30. The proposals will be juried by a nine-member review panel comprised of local community leaders and scholars.

c. Joe Cabaza

Cabaza’s: photographs and words

—Oli Robbins

“It is not how many tools we have, but how we master the ones we use.” These are the words of Joe Cabaza, and they can be found underneath a photograph entitled “Tools of a Trade,” which details the many features of a film camera. The Placitas photographer, featured in the Signpost in the Spring of 2013, continues to employ large-format, non-digital cameras and carefully consider his compositions before shooting so as to capture his intended imagery in just one shot. Cabaza’s new website,, demonstrates his recent focus on augmenting the photographic process to include words alongside pictures. Cabaza has experimented with pairing photography and poetry since the early Nineties, believing in the reciprocal relationship between image and word—the former can inspire the latter and vice versa. Cabaza’s accompanying words don’t direct the viewer to interpret his works in specific ways, but rather quietly reinforce the sentiment of each image while revealing bits of the artist’s philosophies. “It is a simple ride,” writes Cabaza, “walking beyond fears and being free to create the lives we desire.”

c. Alan Yablonsky

Painting, by Alan Yablonsky

Alan Yablonsky at Placitas Library

The Placitas Community Library is pleased to host an art exhibit of Alan Yablonsky’s art. It will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on July 12. It is free and open to the public.

The late Alan Yablonsky was a lifelong artist and teacher, residing most of his life in New Jersey, where his portfolio included fine art renderings and corporate graphic design layouts and logos in the media of oils, acrylics, watercolor, graphite pencil, colored pencil, rapidograph-based pen and ink, and airbrush.

Classically trained as a fine artist, he has brought his teaching skills to variety of venues including public education, colleges, museums, libraries, and a host of private institutions. 

While living in New Mexico he was a member of the faculty of the Art Center Design College in Albuquerque where he instructed courses in illustration, marketing, advertising, and art history. Alan was also on the faculty of UNM School of Continuing Education where he taught drawing.

While living in Placitas, he devoted his time and talent exclusively to the pursuit of regional pastel landscapes, finding the open infinity of space, the light and the colors of the Southwest, more inspirational than any subject matter he previously encountered. His travels took him both locally and statewide to capture the vistas that lure visitors as well as residents to the visual feasts that appear at virtually every twist and turn.

Alan’s work is in numerous private collections, as well as the permanent collection of Prudential Insurance, and his exhibitions include one-man showings in universities and museums, as well as multiple inclusions in biennial professional shows in the New Jersey State Museum. The juried Masterworks of New Mexico Exhibitions accepted Alan’s pastel paintings in the years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2013. His work was featured in the April 2004 issue of New Mexico Magazine.

Calls for artists for the 34th annual Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale

The deadline for artists to apply for the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale is July 24. Held on the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Holiday Sale will be on November 21 and 22 this year and feature more than eighty artists at three central locations in the village. 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 and further information about the show is on the website at If you need an application mailed to you, call Nancy Couch at 867-2450. All applications must be postmarked by July 24, 2015.

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