The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Mary Carter in her studio

Mary Carter in her studio

Mary Carter - Sandoval Signpost Featured Artist

The lure of painting

Bill Diven

As a classically trained artist viewing the work world of southern California, Mary Carter faced a not uncommon choice: struggle or security.

“Being an art major in the 1960s was the best of times,” Carter said. “So of course I graduated with no direction whatsoever except that I could draw and paint.”

And she could write. For the next dozen years her paycheck came from writing advertising copy and serving along the way as West Coast fashion editor for Seventeen magazine.

It would be 1979 before she returned to painting and drawing and another year before she quit the steady job to pursue her art full-time. Over the next four years she developed a poster-like style of strong forms and colors honored by show jurors and accepted by art publications.

The hiatus ended, and painting faded to background, when she and husband Gary Priester moved to San Francisco to build their own graphic-design business.

“The hardest I ever worked in my whole life was running a business and pleasing the corporate clients,” Carter said. Still, she added, “I always tried to make a living doing what I loved to do.”

Once again the lure of painting won out, and by the mid-1990s she was developing a contemporary surrealistic style far different from her earlier work. Commercial success came out of nowhere, though, when she looked around her studio for a place to put her coffee cup.

“I painted a little table, but being an artist, it had to have a design,” she said. “Before long I was looking for old, beat-up furniture to paint, and to my surprise, it began to sell.

“Today my furniture income makes my painting possible.”

The move to Placitas came after a visit to a friend revealed not just the beauty of the place but the burgeoning community of like-minded artists.

“Maybe people move to places like this to be left alone with their thoughts and their art,” she said.

The furniture she chooses are not antiques but old workaday items like coffee and game tables, chairs and chests of drawers rough-sanded and reborn with fanciful images often of animals. Parked in front of her studio sofa is Spindle Dog Table, a long, narrow coffee table graced with a six-legged dachshund with body lengthened by spindles like those on the table supports.

“Elements in the function suggest the image,” Carter said. “I never seem to be short of things coming in and out of my brain.”

Her furniture work begins with up to three layers of translucent paint over a white or black base. Designs sketched on paper are traced to the surface and completed with acrylic paints topped by varnish layers to make the piece functional.

Meanwhile, she continues her painting, often portraying figures bound and disjointed, reflecting all-too-modern themes of lack of control and the quest for perfection.

Carter's art regularly appears at the Mariposa Gallery in Albuquerque's Nob Hill and is showing at the Corrales Bosque Gallery until August. Her studio is open by appointment by calling 867-5832.

Her work also can be seen by clicking on the Featured Artist link.


Call for entries

GO! Downtown Albuquerque Arts Festival 2005

GO!, an open-air art festival, will be held on the streets of downtown Albuquerque from September 22 to 25. If you would like to learn more about the festival event or receive an application to participate in it, e-mail Val Hollingsworth, at The application deadline is June 15.


Anasazi Winery to host poetry reading in June

Anasazi Fields Winery of Placitas announces the second in its Duende Poetry Series, featuring three residents of New Mexico: Maisha Baton, Joe Somoza, and special guest Gary Brower, on June 11, at 3:00 p.m.

Maisha Baton, poet and playwright, was born in Pennsylvania and moved to New Mexico in 1979. Her poetry has been included in literary magazines and publications such as Catalyst (Atlanta), Blue Mesa Review, of the University of New Mexico, Shooting Star Review, 5AM Magazine, Living Inland (Pittsburgh), Karamu (Charleston, Illinois) and In Company: an Anthology of New Mexico Poets. Her plays, Mitote and Kate’s Sister, have been developed and performed at various venues across the country. She will read from her new volume, Flight Time.

Joe Somoza was born in Asturias, in northern Spain, and grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Chicago, and Cincinnati. Currently he lives in Placitas. Somoza has taught English and creative-writing classes in Texas, Puerto Rico, and at New Mexico State University. While at NMSU he helped to resuscitate the literary magazine Puerto del Sol and was one of its poetry editors for fourteen years. He has published seven books and poetry chapbooks, including Cityzen (La Alameda Press, 2002), Sojourner; So To Speak (La Alameda Press, 1997), and Out of This World (Cinco Puntos Press, 1990), and has published his work in ninety or so magazines and anthologies. He has read his work in more than one hundred venues across the country. He and his artist wife, Jill Somoza, live in Las Cruces.

Gary Brower has taught at Baker University, Rogue Community College, University of Kansas, UNM, USC, UCLA, and UCSD (visiting), as well as in Barcelona, Madrid, and Guadalajara. A specialist in Hispanic literature, especially that of Latin America, he has published numerous essays. He has worked with migrant workers, directing an ESL program for migrant-worker camps, published a weekly Spanish newspaper, and directed a Spanish television show on PBS in Medford, Oregon, as well as an Hispanic Library Outreach program. He is currently preparing a collection of poetry for publication.

Admission to the event is free, but donations will be accepted to pay the poets. Take I-25 to Exit 242, drive six miles east to the village of Placitas, turn left at the sign just before the Presbyterian Church, follow Camino de los Pueblitos through two stop signs to the Winery entrance. For further information, call 867-3062 or visit


“Abstract Painting #2,” by Heike Strobel

“Abstract Painting #2,” by Heike Strobel

Art carnival to benefit old church coming up in Corrales

Carnival of the Arts, a New Mexico multi-media show and sale, will be held in Corrales at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church on June 4 and 5. The show will feature the work of fifty artists and crafters from the surrounding area. Items exhibited for sale will include jewelry, oil paintings, watercolors, pottery, woodwork, acrylics, fiber art, stained glass, and other arts and crafts.

Carnival of the Arts is free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days. A portion of each sale at the show goes to the Corrales Historical Society for restoration and preservation of the Old San Ysidro Church.


"Social Commentary Personal Voice"

The Katrina Lasko Gallery in Bernalillo will feature recent work by Kelly Cozart and Katrina Lasko in a show opening on June 11 and running through July 16.

Kelly says, "This work represents a moment in time ... nothing more than what I did today. ... I can no longer complain that I am too busy or stressed out. Most days I get up and have a walk with my dogs; after that the day unfolds. I have decided to do three things a day and give myself credit. I don't answer the phone if I don't feel like it. I don't have health insurance or a retirement plan or own a car. I am the average American ... or am I?"

Katrina says, "this work represents a moment in time, a snapshot of my interpretation of that moment with all of its sadness, or happiness. It comes and goes in a flash. My moods come and go in that same flash and the art sneaks in. I am stressed!"

Two bodies of work by two artists who are longtime friends. Both work figuratively and abstractly with no apparent reason other than what works for one idea may not work for another. Between the two, the mediums vary from oil painting to fresco, from clay to plaster, from paper to felt. "We are both very hyper people and our minds are always ahead of our hands."

A public reception will be held on Saturday, June 11, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Katrina Lasko Gallery is at 336 North Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo. The gallery is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and by appointment. For more information on this exhibit, call (505) 867-2523, (505) 570-2523, or visit


Artist Ophelia Cornet works with Angela Benavidez's first-grade class.

Artist Ophelia Cornet works with Angela Benavidez's first-grade class.

PTO sponsors guest artist Ophelia Cornet

Diane Evanko

The Placitas Elementary PTO recently sponsored a local artist, Ophelia Cornet, to work on an art project with the students. Ophelia teaches art classes at the Albuquerque Museum. Her work spans painting, ceramics, sculpture, and design. Originally from Belgium, Ophelia brings her love of art and world culture to the museum classes year round.

Ophelia chose a lesson plan that celebrated the work of Marc Chagall, the Russian-born French painter. Chagall was a very nontraditional artist who had a somewhat free style of painting. Color would govern his compositions and he would often mix reality and fantasy in his paintings.

Ophelia taught a two-part workshop to the first- through fifth-grade students at Placitas Elementary. She incorporated an age-appropriate art project into the kindergarten classes.

The first part of her workshop included not only interesting dialog with the students but the foundation of their paintings, in which they used only a brush and black ink. She wanted them to be able to “get into” Chagall's style of art. She would ask open-ended questions such as “If you were an animal, which animal would you like to be?” She also encouraged them to draw with their non-dominant hand, in an effort to emulate Chagall's free style. This also demonstrated that by using their opposite hand, they could create beautiful work that was not necessarily representational.

The second part of the workshop was wrapping up their paintings—using soft chalk pastels for coloring. The student's work was on display at the school, and seeing them all at once was like being inside a rainbow!

All the workshop students did a fantastic job. How fortunate they were to experience this incredible project! Many, many thanks go out to Ophelia Cornet, a truly amazing artist and gifted teacher, and to the parents, teachers, and community members who support the Placitas Elementary PTO.


New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair is exclusive showcase for NM artists, craftspeople

The forty-fourth New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair will run from Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26, at EXPO New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The show is open only to artists and crafters from New Mexico. Over 220 artists will vie for prizes in this juried show.

Kicking off the fair will be the First Pick Breakfast on Friday from 8:00 to10:00 a.m. Tickets for the preview hours cost $20. Regular admission is $5 for Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The youth exhibit will be in the Manuel Lujan Building. Judges will award ribbons for individual achievement, Best of Show, and class projects.

Throughout the fair and the youth exhibit there will be musicians, artists' demonstrations, and concessions for fair-goers’ enjoyment.

The New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair presents established artists as well as emerging artists. All artwork displayed is original, and all artists will be present during the entire fair. Jurors include Cecily Colbert for ceramics, Anne Cooper for sculpture, Luis Demitrio for jewelry, Georgia de Katona for museum, Suzy Smith for painting, and Katy Widger for fiber.

The fair is held outdoors at EXPO New Mexico State Fairgrounds, at the corner of San Pedro and Central, in Albuquerque. For further information, visit NMACF at or call (505) 884-9043.




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