Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Signpost Featured Artist

Artist Felice Lucero
Photo credit: —Oli Robbins

Dream II—16-1/2" X 19-1/2", Mixed Media, Collage using handmade paper, pastel, oil

Dream I—16-1/2" X 19-1/2", Mixed Media, Collage using handmade paper, pastel, oil pastels, watercolor, acrylic paint, charcoal pastel, watercolor, acrylic paint, charcoal

Daffodil Study I—11-1/2" X 11", Mixed Media, Collage using handmade paper, pastel, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic paint, prismacolor pencils

The Pictorial Languages of Felice Lucero

~Oli Robbins

Felice Lucero is a storyteller. The multi-media artist, currently living just outside the Placitas village, has been visually narrating for over fifty years. A San Felipe Pueblo native, Lucero’s work draws upon the Pueblo’s deep-rooted traditions and cultural values as well as the artist's long-standing identity as a citizen of two worlds. Says Lucero, “The idea that I am a woman descendant from a living ancient culture whose people continue to reside on our ancient homelands is an insightful prospect for my work.” That work is stylistically hybrid—incorporating Pueblo customs and motifs while recalling the work of 20th-century minimalist masters. In 1991, Lucero enjoyed a retrospective exhibition at Arizona State University. The accompanying catalogue, penned by Barbara Loeb, describes her well: “… she is a nonconformist and a public recorder of San Felipe life. She remains, however, respectfully aware of the boundaries and values established by her people. Her subjects range broadly over many Pueblo issues but they never deal directly with Keresan religion.” Her motifs are at once specific and universal—speaking to basic human experiences in the realms of family, religion, place and culture.

Lucero, born in San Felipe Pueblo in 1946, remembers art as a natural part of her childhood—quite literally. “I lived art,” says Lucero, who now realizes that she and all of her contemporaries were creating Earthworks and Land Art before the movements were named. “We lived along the Rio Grande, and you would get the little islands in the middle of the river that would create really fine sand. We’d put the sand into cans with the water and did dripping. We dripped sand and would build walls and castles.” It was all part of her play time, replete with mud baths. “Our game was to try to get up after you dry without cracking the mud.” Her parents, ardent believers in the power of education, sent Lucero and her five brothers to Santa Fe’s St. Catherine’s. Says Lucero, “my parents were very creative people. They were weavers, they were farmers, they were educated in their traditional way.” At St. Catherine’s, Lucero was required to learn English quickly, having grown up speaking the language native to San Felipe. Says Lucero, “we were always encouraged to learn to speak English because we live in two worlds. The elders would say that we need to know both worlds.” Lucero’s bifurcated identity — a theme that features prominently in her art—was made even more rich by her marriage outside the Pueblo to a Polish-Italian architect. While her San Felipe heritage doesn’t define her completely, it is indeed the place to which she always returns, both physically and artistically.

While at St. Catherine’s, Lucero completed her first formal art class. The class was taught by a thoughtful professor who helped Lucero locate her style and natural abilities. Says Lucero, “I couldn’t paint. My hands wouldn’t function in those ways. So he would watch me and was really aware and sympathize with your inner soul—with how you’re expressing yourself.” He presented her with a set of pastels, and she began to soar. Though she respected the work of her peers, many were painting in a Euro-traditional style that Lucero found restrictive. The pastels offered her freedom, and soon enough she began creating the works that she’s known for—visual narratives (as well as poems and prose) based largely on Pueblo experiences and memories that are both particular to Pueblo life and simply human.

Many of her compositions contain poetry, stamped letters or words, cut-up postcards and even found objects. Her work is often in four parts, signifying the sacred number four and the four directions; the letters “N,” “S,” “E” and “W” often appear. Dashed lines refer to her own walks of life, and raindrops, rainbows and clouds (all water and life-giving forms) are common imagery. As Loeb explains in the ASU catalogue, … “she begins at San Felipe, or Katistya as it is called in the Keresan language. She calls this her point of reference… On occasion, the town itself becomes the main subjects, and all the essential features are included… If the artist addresses a subject outside the Pueblo, she almost always includes some reminder, usually a similar, codified image of the plaza and kivas. This may take the form of the rectangle and circles…” 

Nowadays in San Felipe, as in Lucero’s childhood, the desire remains to uphold the native language (a dialect of Keresan). But, the language’s fate is uncertain due to tribal intermarriages that result in English-speaking households. In an attempt to ensure that the language will be preserved by future generations, Lucero is presently designing an early childhood education language class in the Pueblo. Says Lucero, “the concern is that the native language is dwindling away, and that’s not good for our culture—it’s totally based on language… If you speak the language, that’s how you’re going to associate yourself with the environment, with the people. That connectedness—you can’t do it with the English language.”

Lucero’s work appears in several publications and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions. She’s also exhibited in dozens of group shows, including one at Washington, D.C.’s world-renowned National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her art resides in many permanent public collections, and can be found nearby at the Albuquerque Museum, the School of American Research in Santa Fe, and the City of Albuquerque Public Arts Collection.

Poem for Landscape East of San Felipe, 1989

Dreams of ancient landscapes
soft as the underbelly of a silk purse.

Raise your skin to the touch of foot prints.

Bristle with pain your stubble of catch needles

Dreams of ancient landscapes
screaming with delicious yellows, succulent reds.

Raise your breath of dust devils to exhale the heat
burnt crazy into a spiraling dance.

Dream for strength—Dream—Dream

                Dream for the night—lover who brings dew drops
to soothe you into sleep.

—Felice Lucero

A folded book “Read,” by Linda Nystrom

“Tumbling into China 2,” by Rebecca Cohen

Altered books art show at Placitas Library

~Bonnie J. Hayes

Do you score, tear, or mutilate the pages of your books? Maybe you’re not destructive; maybe you are just a frustrated artist! Visit the Placitas Community Library to see how to use those habits to rescue a book from the landfill.

Our June art show, “Fold, Spindle, and Recreate—Books Reimagined,” runs from June 3 through June 29 in the Collin Room. There you will see books in a whole new light—from sculptural forms to admire, to handmade journals ready to preserve your fondest memories. Come to the public reception on June 9, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Meet the imaginative (and sometimes obsessed) creative souls who just can’t let go of an old book. Featured artists are: Rebecca Hull, Sue Ortiz, Linda Nystrom, Rebecca Cohen, Ellen McMahon, Kimberly Zuidema, Glo Cantwell, Karen Cox, and several others.

Friends of Historic Old San Ysidro Church hold benefit concert

~Debbie Clemente

On June 10, at 7:30 p.m., Trumpeter Bobby Shew will present “The Great Ladies of Jazz,” a benefit concert for Historic Old San Ysidro Church held at Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road, in Corrales.

Corrales Historical Society (CHS) is celebrating its 43rd year of managing, maintaining, and preserving the historic Old San Ysidro Church, built in 1868, affectionately known as “a great lady of a certain age.” Remudding, roof repair, lighting and electrical upgrades, and so much more, are ongoing concerns of the many CHS members.

To help keep this great lady aging gracefully, the Bobby Shew Quintet and singer Carla Van Blake, will be performing jazz classics from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Carmen McRae, and more.

Tickets for the Benefit Concert are $50 per ticket; $28 of the price is tax-deductible. You may purchase tickets at or at Frame-n-Art, located at 3563 Corrales Road. Additional donations accepted at the door the night of the performance or anytime at All proceeds go to preservation of the Old Church.

Free concerts at Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites on Memorial Day weekend

Coronado and Jemez Historic Site are hosting free concerts on Memorial Day Weekend. Festivities begin at Coronado Historic Site on May 27 with “Reggae on the River.” The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day-long event will start with a nature walk, followed by traditional Native American storytelling and poetry outside the painted kiva at 11:15 a.m. The world famous reggae band, Native Roots, will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. Docent led tours of the historic site and archaeological excavations will occur throughout the day.

The free concerts continue at Jemez Historic Site on May 28 with “Jammin’ in Jemez.” The event will include traditional flute music by Marlon Magdalena at 11:00 a.m. and a performance by Native-inspired funk and jazz act Delbert Anderson Trio at 1:15 p.m. Ranger led tours of the historic site will occur throughout the day.

Both concerts are free, but donations are greatly appreciated. Arts, crafts, and food will be available for purchase at the events. Visitors are encouraged to bring folding chairs and sunscreen. Coronado Historic Site is located at 485 Kuaua Road in Bernalillo. Jemez Historic Site is located at 18160 Highway 4 in Jemez Springs.

For more information, call Coronado Historic Site at 867-5351 or Jemez Historic Site at 575-829-3530.

Call for artists for the 36th annual Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale

~Nancy Couch

The Placitas Mountaincraft and Soiree Society is seeking artists for the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale, an annual event held each year on the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 18 and 19, in the village of Placitas. This is a juried show and all artists will need to submit digital images of their work to be accepted. Artists do not have to be from Placitas to apply.

The Placitas Mountaincraft and Soiree Society is a 501(c)(3) organization that has supported the arts in Placitas for more than 44 years.

Artists can get information about the show and print an application at If you need an application sent to you, contact the Placitas Holiday Sale, 3 Canon del Apache, Placitas, NM 87043 or send an email to: Applications must be postmarked by July 24 to be considered.

Pastor and Jazz pianist Bill Carter performs at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church

~Janice Langdale

The Las Placitas Presbyterian Church summer ‘Songlines’ project continues with featured performer Bill Carter the weekend of June 24 and 25. Bill Carter is a multi-talented pastor and jazz pianist.

A recent online review commented: “Can any of you jazz fans out there imagine what it would be like if Dave Brubeck was living a double life, one as a Presbyterian minister and the other as a piano-playing leader of a jazz quartet? The Reverend Bill Carter and his jazz band, the Presbybop Quartet, creates jazz music that glorifies God and infuses the life of faith with the swinging pulse of jazz.”

Las Placitas Presbyterian Church will host Bill Carter the weekend of June 24 and 25. There will be two events on June 24: a workshop, “Jazz in Worship,” from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., and a Jazz Concert at 7:00 p.m. On June 25, Bill will share the ‘songline’ of his life at morning worship, at 9:30 a.m. All three events are free and open to the public. enters its 17th year and asks, “Is Anybody There?”

~Signpost Staff

After moving to Placitas in the year 2000, Gary Priester discovered that while Placitas was home to a thriving community of talented artists, very few of those artists had a website. To fill this need, Priester started, a community website that provided free web galleries for all Placitas artists. He spread the word by passing out cards to artists participating in the Placitas Studio Tour. Any artist who applies is accepted. There is no jury.

Word spread and the site was launched. Local art legend Gene McClain and Priester’s wife, painter Mary Carter, were among the first galleries on the site. Over the years, the site has grown and the number of artist’s galleries is over eighty artists. New artists moving to Placitas and who see the ads in the Signpost take advantage of the free web galleries. The website brags, The Best Art in New Mexico is in Placitas!

While some artists update their eight allotted images frequently, once on the website, most do not. Plus, many artists have left Placitas, and several have died. And this brings up an interesting question, how many artists are there really? And do people really need a community website anymore?

So, Priester has asked the readers of the Signpost to visit the site and go to the list of artists and report back if visitors know of any artists who have moved from the area or are no longer artists in need of a website. Go to and click the link for List of Artists. If you know of any changes, contact Priester from the Contact Us page.

The website is sponsored by Anasazi Fields Winery, Blades’ Bistro, Drew Owens, David R. Johnson, Sandi Pressley, Rockpile Recording and Fine Art Printing, Scrap to Sculpture, the Sandoval Signpost, and YogaCrossroads.

Bill Martin

Bill Martin presents at Placitas Community Library

~Susanne Dominguez

On June 3, at 2:00 p.m., Bill Martin will give a presentation entitled: Porgy and Bess Opera World Tour, 1952-1956: Defeating Segregation in America and the Cold War in Russia. Bill Martin is a magician, escapeologist, and retired Naval Aviator. He has been a Golden Gloves boxer and nightclub entertainer.

The Robert Breen production of the Porgy and Bess folk opera was a surprising force in desegregating theaters, hotels, and public accommodations in America during the 1950s. Director and co-producer Robert Breen fought relentlessly to ensure that the public establishments treated his cast of sixty African-Americans with dignity and respect. The cast of talented artists included Leontyne Price, Cab Calloway, Martha Flowers, William Warfield, Maya Angelou and others who went on to open many doors previously closed to black actors.

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