Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Veterans of All Twenty Placitas Studio Tours: Founder Riha Rothberg, Bunny Bowen, Lisa Chernoff, Mary Hofmann, Nancy Couch, Jon Couch, and 2017 Coordinator Andi Callahan.
(Not pictured: Peaches Malmaud and Karl Hofmann)

Signpost featured artists

Twenty years of Placitas Studio touring———and counting

~Oli Robbins

A couple decades ago, Riha Rothberg envisioned Placitas as an artistic destination—a place already brimming with both traditional and eclectic art (created in an assortment of visually unique studios). She launched an annual studio tour, now enjoying its twentieth year and thriving, thanks to Rothberg and a team of dedicated local collaborators.

All committee members work on a volunteer basis and are driven by their involvement in, and respect for, the Placitas art community—a community that, frankly, partially owes itself to the tour. Indeed, artist after artist interviewed by the Signpost has expressed a fondness for the tour and the far-reaching opportunities it generates. Studio-goers are likewise grateful for the candid and creative environments the tour affords them. Describing itself to the Signpost back in 2004, the Placitas Studio Tour (PST) committee wrote, “In the process of visiting our studios, you will have the opportunity to explore the many places in Placitas that most people never see. We hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at part of the artistic life of Placitas."

Rothberg, a multi-media painter (this year in studio #7), is the tour’s own tour de force. Her co-committee members have lovingly granted her the monikers “Mother” and “Diplomat,” since she has—for twenty years—been tasked with everything from meetings to advertisements, applications, and obtaining sponsorships. It was originally Rothberg's work on the Placitas home tour, back in 1997, that led to conversations about Placitas’ artistic makeup. Its dense population of artists—many of whom are interesting characters who possess a great deal of talent—made it ideally suited for a studio tour.

In its inaugural year, 36 studios participated. Now, after years of success, the tour tends to garner around sixty artists. To borrow the accurate and now twenty-year-old words of Rothberg (promoting the very first tour for the West Side Journal in 1997), “As different as the artists are, so are the studios.”

Looking back on that first year, Rothberg says that she was naive. “I made a poster and took it somewhere to be blown up, and I put it up at the Merc. It was pink. I remember that! And it said, ‘First Annual Placitas Studio Tour, Call for Artists.’ And at the end of the tour I thought, well that wasn’t so hard. I could keep doing that.” So she did. And a set of seven loyal local artists have stood by her side, opening their doors for the tour every year for twenty years. These "originals," pictured above (l. to r.) are Riha Rothberg, Bunny Bowen, Lisa Chernoff, Mary Hofmann, Nancy Couch, Jon Couch, and Andi Callahan. (Not pictured are Karl Hofmann and Peaches Malmaud.)

As the tour has grown (both in size and maturity), Rothberg has welcomed the help of committee members, now integral to the tour’s accomplishments. Planning and orchestrating alongside her during the tour’s first year were Thomas Ashe, Nancy Bolton-Couch, Jon Couch, Wayne Mikosz, Michele Bourque Sewards, and John Shannon. And over the years, as Rothberg has flirted with the idea of scaling back her duties, others have continued to step up to the plate. The hardworking team of 2017 includes Rothberg (advisor to all), Callahan (coordinator), Bunny Bowen (webmaster and go-to figure), Marce Rackstraw (ad design and map maker), Joan Fenicle (brochure designer, photo editor, and more), Mary Hofmann (brochure manager, party shopper, and beloved “run around”), Jon Couch (irreplaceable “sign guru”), and Nancy Holley (social media manager and coordinator-in-training for 2018).

This year's coordinator, Callahan has been a committee member for many years, a tour artist since the very beginning, and is well-versed in various essential chores and deadline requirements.

Bowen’s allegiance to the tour, like Callahan’s, hasn’t ceased. She created the PST website in 2004 and presently maintains it. Says Bunny, “Gosh, twenty years of experiences—and no two years alike. I have always liked that in the studio tour I can show whatever media I happen to be excited about at the time, as well as the medium I am best known for. That makes experimentation fun and permissible… So, at the tour, expect artists to be trying new things and stretching their creative muscles.”

The beginning of each calendar year brings the committee a frenzied laundry list of deliverables. Says Callahan, “It's furious in January—January just blows up." The mandatory meeting for all participating artists is the first major deadline for the organizing team. Thanks to the generosity and graciousness of Jim Fish, the meeting has, for several years, been held at his Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas—where the loads of signs are also stored, assembled, and disassembled.

Just as it has for each of its previous 19 years, the tour will commence the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, May 13 and 14, and run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m daily. Visit one or several of the 59 artists, 13 of whom are new to the annual event. Studio guests are encouraged to explore, where they can begin to get to know the artists’ philosophies and styles, download a brochure and map and plan their routes.

Corrales Studio Tour reveals eighty artists’ work

The first weekend in May, the Village of Corrales will once again host the Corrales Studio Tour. Maps and catalogs will be available in tents on the south end of the Village, on Corrales Road, and at Loma Larga and Meadowlark. Start your tour at the Preview Gallery in the historic Casa Vieja Events Center, 4541 Corrales Road, open on May 5, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and during tour hours, May 6 and 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit or CAST is sponsored by the Corrales Society of Artists (CSA), a nonprofit organization that fosters a vibrant and distinctive artistic community in Corrales and New Mexico.

Free concerts coming to Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites

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.

The free concerts continue at Jemez Historic Site on May 28 with “Jammin’ in Jemez,”—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. 

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.

Placitas Artists Series presents season finale

The Placitas Artists Series winds up its thirtieth season, at 3:00 p.m. on May 21, with a flourish as Willie Sucre and Friends perform string sextets. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by violinists Krzysztof Zimowski and Carol Swift-Matton, violist Justin Pollak, and cellists Lisa Donald and David Schepps. On the program are Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in d minor, Souvenir de Florence and Brahms’ String Sextet in B flat Major, Op. 18.

Prior to the concert, a 2:00 p.m. visual artists reception will feature works by Rebecca Nolda, painting and drawing; Gary W. Priester, digital stereographic prints; and P.K. Williams, water media. Their works, all of which are for sale, will be on display from April 29 to May 27. The concert and visual artist reception take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas. For ticket information see Page 2, this Signpost, call 867-8080, or visit

Placitas Library presents "Art in Bloom"

The Placitas Community Library May Art Exhibit will highlight the works of Placitas’ Plein Air artists Tom Blazier, Linda Heath, Malinda Menke, Bonnie Mitisek, Betty Temple, Dee Sanchez, and Lisa Zawadzki. Their work will be on display from April 29 through June 1. A public reception will be held at the Placitas Community Library on May 5, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The artists are working in collaboration with the Sandoval County Master Gardeners and the Placitas Community Library to raise funds for future landscape projects and educational programs in Placitas.

Music at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church

This summer, Las Placitas Presbyterian Church will host guest musicians and area talent to enhance joy in music. From May through September, a nationally recognized musician will lead in a weekend of musical celebration. From June through August there will be an exhibit in Fellowship Hall, displaying art that relates to music.

On May 19, at 6:00, Dr. Don Saliers, from Emory University in Atlanta, will host a community hymn sing at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Dr. Saliers cowrote A Song to Sing, A Life to Live with his daughter Emily Saliers, a member of the Indigo Girls. The public is welcome to join in rousing tribute to the hymns and songs that we cherish.

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