Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Willy SucreWilly Sucre and Friends play trios for clarinet, piano, and viola

On Sunday, November 29, the Placitas Artists Series will present Willy Sucre and Friends. Violist Willy Sucre will be joined by clarinetist Lori Lovato and pianist Mindy Sampson.

The program should include: Märchenerzählungen: Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano; Op. 132 “Fairy Tales” by Robert Schumann; Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano in E Flat Major, K. 498 “Kegelstatt” (‘‘Skittles”) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Three Preludes for Clarinet and Piano by George Gershwin; and Three Pieces for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano from the Op. 83 Series by Max Bruch.

Violist Willy Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the driving force behind the “Willy Sucre and Friends” concerts. Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Sucre studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in La Paz; Colby College Chamber Music Institute in Waterville, Maine; Mannes School of Music in New York; and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland. He has been conductor and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra; assistant conductor and assistant principal viola of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra; principal viola and guest conductor of the National Symphony of Bolivia, the Chamber Orchestra of La Paz, and the Albuquerque Chamber Orchestra. He has performed as viola soloist with the Albuquerque Chamber Orchestra and in Cochabamba and La Paz, Bolivia. As a chamber musician, Sucre was the founder of the Cuarteto Boliviano, guest violist with various chamber music ensembles, and for ten years the violist of the Helios String Quartet.

Lori Lovato is currently principal clarinetist with the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra. She also is a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Southwest Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque, the Música de Cámara Orchestra, the Santa Fe Concert Association Orchestra, and the Three-Two Jazz Duo. As a founding member of the New Mexico Woodwind Quintet, she is actively involved in the promotion of new music and has commissioned and premiered more than twenty new works for woodwind quintet. She also performs regularly with the Santa Fe Opera, the Albuquerque Chamber Players, and as a guest artist for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Music at Angel Fire. She has soloed with the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque and in the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra’s Music Under the Stars series.

Mindy Sampson earned both Bachelor and Master degrees in piano from the University of New Mexico and has been a professional accompanist and popular solo pianist since 1977. Her broad range of venues spans music theater, dinner music, church, classical recitals, and piano bar. Styles include classical, Broadway, pop/jazz/country standards, Top 40 pop and country, ragtime, contemporary Christian, and New Age. She has performed nearly five dozen theater productions, mostly with Albuquerque Civic Light Opera, Musical Theatre Southwest, The Albuquerque Little Theatre, the Adobe Theatre, and New Mexico Young Actors, but also with many local high schools, as rehearsal accompanist, pit keyboards, and music director. Sampson has also toured with baritone Carlos Serrano and played countless concerts, recitals, and appearances at local, national, and international hotels, restaurants, convention centers, and celebrity parties (for Wayne Newton, Renaldo Bellini, Sid Caesar, and Bill Daily, among others). She currently accompanies the Westside Chorale under the direction of John Clark, and accompanies Jacqueline Zander-Wall’s vocal students at UNM, in addition to being the pianist for Las Placitas Presbyterian Church.

The concert is generously sponsored by Joan Jander and Simon Shima. Preceding the concert, a reception will be held for November exhibiting visual artists Nina Adkins, Dana Patterson Roth, Adriana Scassellati, and Betsy Shaw.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. on November 29 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church; the artists’ reception begins at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas; at Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or online at Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible, and free childcare is provided for families with children under six. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (exit 242). For more information, call 867-8080.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Placitas Artists Series presents November artists

On Sunday, November 29, the Placitas Artists Series will present the art of Nina Adkins, Dana Patterson Roth, Adriana Scassellati, and Betsy Shaw with a reception at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The works will be on display from the first Saturday of the month of November through the first Friday of December.

A native New Mexican, Nina Adkins has been deeply influenced by the colors and mountains of the Southwest for as long as she can remember. Adkins says she loves the way water media colors sing on the page or board and the luminosity and transparency that water media afford. She began watercolor painting to express her more creative side in 1986. She has studied with many nationally known artists and obtained Signature Member status of the New Mexico Watercolor Society in 1995. Her work was again shown at the New Mexico Arts & Craft Fair at the New Expo in June 2007. Adkins was the co-chair for the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition held in Albuquerque in 2002. Her paintings hang in private collections in the United States and abroad.

Dana Patterson Roth has been a photographer for thirty years, mainly specializing in black and white portraiture and event photography, but recently she has begun exploring the artistic possibilities within digital photography. “While I see photography as a never-ending quest of creating an image that accurately captures the beauty of what I see and how I see it, the best part comes when the ink hits the paper and the unexpected happens. It is that bit of painterly serendipity, which occurs from time to time, that intrigues me the most and keeps me searching.

Adrianna Scassellati has always been interested in art and the use of colors as displayed in various media. The opportunity to study and the time to create her own works of art finally came when she retired to Placitas with her husband. A friend introduced her to pastels, which she uses to capture the hues and the mood of the New Mexico landscape. The subjects of many of her pastels are often instantly recognizable. Scassellati has shown in the Placitas Artist Series, the Placitas Studio Tour, and the Debra Christensen Class Art Show in Albuquerque in the past. She won an award at the Chamisa Hills C. C. in Rio Rancho in a showing of emerging artists sponsored by The Pastel Society of New Mexico.

Betsy Shaw creates very unusual dolls using colorful fabrics, turtle shells, antlers, and all sorts of decorative elements. Each original piece is a three-dimensional collage interpreted through natural elements, textiles, and treasures. The collection of antique objects come from all over the world in the form of baubles and beads, embroidered pieces, gems and minerals, antlers, bones, small hand-made alabaster masks from Mexico, carved masks from Africa, and the ever-popular turtle shells. Each Female Spirit will express its own personality to the collector. These totally unique Female Spirit Dolls can be seen in many households across the country, adding flair and sophistication to anyone’s home. They are all fairly large, and have a definite presence of their own.

A reception for the artists will be held at 2:00 p.m. on November 29, prior to a concert by Willy Sucre and Friends. Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert, or may be purchased in advance at La Bonne Vie Salon and Day Spa in Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas; at Ah! Capelli Salon & Color Studio in Enchanted Hills Plaza, Rio Rancho; or online at Prices are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students.

This project is made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The facility is completely accessible. Las Placitas Presbyterian Church is located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (exit 242). For more information, call 867-8080 or visit

Eric Beardsley

Eric Beardsley stands by his painting "Tall Man" at the Desert Intarsia gallery on Gold Street downtown.

c. Eric Beardsley

"Petroglyph II" is acrylic and stucco on denim, with reclaimed leather strips and a reclaimed cypress frame.

A torn and patched history, rethought and reframed

—Keiko Ohnuma, Signpost

Sometimes it happens that you do your own thing for thirty or forty years, with no real audience, without notice. Then one day, suddenly, the audience appears.

That’s what happened to Eric Beardsley, who had been making art quietly for most of his forty-six years. Raised in the wide-open West, he spent his adult life working odd jobs, singing in a rock band, moving around, partying hard—and paying for it.

All the while, he kept at the drawing, painting, and collage he had turned to as an asthmatic kid who couldn’t really play sports. He favored abstract landscapes in brilliant acrylics, inspired by the places he’s lived: east and west Texas, Oklahoma, Denver, and Albuquerque, with stints in Louisiana and Kentucky.

His paintings reflect those environments, from the water and trees of Louisiana to the skies of New Mexico, which appear as layers of color running under and over personal and collective symbols.

If Beardsley ever considered himself an artist, however, the world told him different. “I got tired of trying to promote myself,” he says. He would solicit art galleries and hear that they liked his work, but couldn’t sell it. He quit making art for about eight years.

Meanwhile, life offered him plenty of other material. He moved from state to state, working jobs from oil companies to grocery stores. He got a degree in computers—then found he hated sitting in a cubicle. At one point, when he had hit bottom living “a crazy lifestyle” in Louisiana, he decided to move back West—and then got into a car crash that broke all the bones in his neck.

Even that wasn’t quite bottom, however, since he “got shipped back to Denver, moved in with the meanest woman in the world, and went with her to Kentucky.” When that blew up, he came back to Colorado.

Beardsley relates his remarkable biography offhandedly, because what really seems to interest him is what was going on beneath the surface. His artwork began to change, he says, as his belief system changed.

“Like the way Native American, Buddhist beliefs are more in touch with nature,” he says, hunting for the words. “My outlook changed, from looking for ways to make people happy with my art, to making me happy.” He came to realize that “you have to make yourself happy first, be in touch with your surroundings.” To make art, in other words, for yourself and not for others.

Nature, symbolism, and surface thus play unselfconsciously across his canvases, which reflect the stitched-together, well-worn aspects of his life quite literally. For canvas, Beardsley uses old jeans, centering them with pockets and tears intact. They are stretched over wood reclaimed from construction sites and dumps, with frames made of shipping palettes or scraps from cabinet shops.

He turned “green,” he says, out of necessity—because canvas and framing cost a lot if you’re not selling the results. The first time he tried using a pair of old jeans, the painting sold, so he found better ways to do it.

You might think that old jeans would be a fairly limited and limiting resource, but not in Beardsley’s case. He works as a flooring specialist at Lowe’s in Rio Rancho, and goes through jeans like aprons. The hardened stains of stucco and mastic add sculptural interest to his canvases, which are laced together like Native drum skins when a pant leg limits the width of a painting.

The materials he uses, too, are drawn from his daily life: figures stenciled in stucco, sand, or sawdust, with bits of pine boughs, rock, or other natural materials when he works outside, as well as leather ties and Native American fasteners.

His parents are collectors of Beardsley originals, and their wall art drew the attention of a friend who happens to own an art gallery. She heard Eric’s story, and brought her husband by to look.

Stacy and Brian Maggard were then moving their Desert Intarsia gallery from Old Town to a much larger space downtown, and they told Eric’s parents they wanted every painting he had. Last month, Eric Beardsley was their featured artist for First Friday Artscrawl, with twelve paintings on display in the new eighteen-hundred-square-foot space.

“The neat thing about Eric’s work is that everything has a story—even the frames,” says Brian Maggard, who opened the gallery initially to sell his intricate stone jewelry. Desert Intarsia carries the work of some twenty artists, eighteen of them from around Albuquerque, Maggard says. “We try to keep everything local.”

After years of rejection, Beardsley says he still has a hard time answering his inner critic, though his enthusiasm takes over when he relates the story behind each painting.

Fascinated for years by Native symbols, he was shocked to encounter on a trip to Hawaii the very petroglyphs he had “invented” for his paintings years before.

Beardsley says he likes living in Rio Rancho because it’s close to work, affordable, and centrally located. A fly fisherman since age six, he still drives to the mountains every chance he gets.

Of his sudden arrival in a downtown gallery after years of failed attempts, he offers the same matter-of-fact acceptance as for years of hard luck. “I just look at it like, sometimes the harder you push, the less you succeed.”

His home life has transformed in the last decade from just a dog and roommate to being happily settled with a girlfriend, her daughter, and the three grandchildren who come to visit. He says he realized recently that he had stayed in flooring for fifteen years because it lets him help people with creative design.

“It comes from living the right way,” he says of his new outlook. “Things come to you when the time is right.”

Placitas Holiday Sale

Get in the holiday spirit with the Placitas Fine Arts and Crafts Sale

—Nancy Couch

The time is right to holiday shop and have fun at the same time. Get ready, because eighty-two of New Mexico’s finest artists will converge on Placitas for the Placitas Holiday Sale. For twenty-eight years, residents and visitors have enjoyed the transition to the holidays while shopping, talking with the artists, and meeting old friends amidst the creative wonders of the Placitas Holiday Sale.

Always held on the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale becomes a beacon for artists and art lovers. This year, it will be Saturday and Sunday, November 21 and 22, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Placitas Holiday Sale has acquired a reputation for excellent fine arts and crafts, good food, fine wine, and lots of fun. The fair takes place at three central locations in the historic village of Placitas: Site #1—Anasazi Fields Winery; Site #2—the Big Tent next to the Presbyterian Church; and Site #3—Placitas Elementary School.

We are pleased to have expanded the space at the school, which is much appreciated by both artists and the public. The other two locations will be familiar to our faithful customers: Anasazi Fields Winery and the Big Tent east of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The Big Tent is heated and has clear window walls to allow natural light to illuminate the art. Close by is the Anasazi Fields Winery, which features a cozy adobe pavilion and magnificent view of the vineyards and orchards. Colorful signs and banners will mark the way.

Since 1982, villagers of Placitas and visitors have enjoyed the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere of the Placitas Holiday Sale. Its size is less intimidating than most shows of the season, offering patrons a chance to enjoy the splendor of the wares and actually talk with the artists about their work. After a hectic autumn, the mood turns more leisurely, with time to visit with old friends, enjoy the goodies, and discover what wondrous works folks have brought to our village. Many are renowned artists from Placitas, while others come from across the state, including Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Corrales, Chimayo, Santo Domingo, Pecos, Santa Fe, Taos, Tijeras, Silver City, and Crestone, Colorado.

The artists were selected by a jury from an increasing number of applicants based on excellence, originality, and variety. The organizers feel that by maintaining the number of artists at about eighty, they can assure a top quality show.

A wide array will be offered to take care of your holiday gift list: glass, water prisms, ceramics, batiks, jewelry, gourd art, wood, prints, paintings and painted drums, photography, wood, baskets, metal work, handmade clothing, and much more will be at the Placitas Holiday Sale this year. Everything is handmade, and many of the artists create special gifts for the holiday season. Look for many items created just for the show, at affordable prices.

Anasazi Fields Winery will be featuring a new release of their American Cranberry Table Wine, the perfect complement to the holiday dinner. They will also be serving cups of hot, mulled cranberry wine. Also available will be their two grape-based wines, Blanco Seco and Rojo Seco, and three wines produced exclusively from fruit grown in Placitas: Apple, Peach, and Plum. Visit for more information about the wines and the winery. Fine delicacies such as chile chocolates, coffee bean chocolates, pecan chocolates, and more can also be found at the Anasazi Fields Winery from Amour Chocolates. Nancy Coonridge from Pie Town brings her many flavors of organic goat cheese to the Winery and offers complimentary tasting of each unique blend.

Across the road at the Big Tent east of the Presbyterian Church, Las Placitas Presbyterian Church will sell their own superb frozen chile, “Just Coffee,” and handmade Christmas gift bags to benefit Habitat for Humanity and other mission projects.

Delicious food will be available at all of the sites. At Site #1, Anasazi Fields Winery will host Little Smokies, who will serve salmon on a stick with lettuce and cheese, as well as shrimp dogs, shrimp tacos, and cheese-stuffed bread. West of the Big Tent at Site #2, the Presbyterian Church will offer homemade fare from their church kitchen, the “Chile Pepper Café,” including breakfast burritos, pulled pork sandwiches with beans and slaw, brownies, cookies, and drinks. At Site #3, the parents of fifth-graders of Placitas Elementary School will be selling hot Frito pies, drinks, and desserts for all to enjoy. When you’re doing your holiday shopping at the show, make sure you sample something yummy from all of these fine groups.

For the last six years, the artists have been donating a piece of their artwork to raise funds for a good local cause. This year, the Placitas Holiday Sale will be donating this money to the Arts in the School program to buy art supplies for the children of the Placitas Elementary School. The public can purchase tickets at $1 for the chance to win a nice piece of artwork donated by the generous artists, and one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to this program. All artwork for the raffle will be on display at the school. The Placitas Holiday Sale has raised over $6,000 from this art raffle in the past six years.

Mark your calendars for this fun and festive holiday art event. The fair runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, November 21 and 22, and is located six miles east of I-25 on Highway 165 (take exit 242). Colorful signs and banners will mark the way through the scenic hills to the historic village of Placitas. All three sites are centrally located.

To preview the artists, artwork map, and sites, please visit our website at

2009 Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale Artists

The following is a list of the food and artists to be featured at each of the three sites at the upcoming Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale:                                                                                                        


26 Camino De Los Puebilitos
(505) 867-3062
Refreshments: Free wine tasting, hot food by Little Smokies (salmon on a stick with lettuce and cheese, shrimp dogs, shrimp tacos, and cheese-stuffed bread, drinks)


  • Terry Adams—Southwest and contemporary wall art and sculpture
  • Barbara Barkley—framed and three-dimensional sculpture, handmade paper made from plants and cloth
  • Andi Callahan—fine silver, sterling, gold, and semi-precious jewelry 
  • Gwen and Scott Clapp—Southwestern-inspired gourmet chocolate and chile chocolate products 
  • Michael Colombo—artist-made beds, earrings, necklaces
  • Nancy Coonridge and Isai Pexton—organic goat cheese
  • Helen and Joseph Coriz—inlaid turquoise jewelry, necklaces, and slap earrings
  • Nancy and Jon Couch—glass water prisms, windows, pyramid lamps, mandalas, and boxes 
  • Sylvia Ortiz Domney—pastel paintings of nature, portraits
  • Jim Fish—wooden sculptures, walking sticks
  • Cay Garcia—knife-cut paper images, wall art, miniatures, and jewelry pins
  • Stacey Golden—hand-tied clothing
  • Richard Meyer—ceramic vessels (thrown, classic form, craftsman style)
  • Tricia Simmons—metal clay on organic materials, rings, earrings, and woven copper jewelry
  • Frank Szyper—wine bottle stoppers from cholla cactus and hardwood cutting boards
  • Nancy Wood Taber—colored pencil drawings of animals and nature
  • Bill Tondreau—large photos on canvas
  • Rick Van Ness—sculpture made from found materials over steel
  • Fred Wilson—raku and stoneware sculpture, masks, pots
  • Kristen Wilson—jewelry (hand-hammered and manipulated metals and stones, necklaces, bracelets, earrings)
  • Ginny Wolf—jewelry assembled with mixed media, beads, and found objects

Site # 2—THE BIG TENT Next to the Presbyterian Church

623 Highway 165
Refreshments: Hot food at the Presbyterian Church—Chile Pepper Café (breakfast burritos, pulled pork sandwiches, beans, coleslaw, green chile by the quart, brownies, and drinks)


  • Jeanine Allen—still life, landscapes, animal and wildlife pastel paintings on paper and board
  • Jitsudo Ancheta—small edition woodcuts and linocuts
  • Dona Calles—copper repousse wall pieces, night lights, image transfers of photos on metal, paper, and cloth
  • Sharon and Adam Candelario—etching with a nail on tin, tin stamping                    
  • H. Cordova—primitive fired clay sculpture (natural patina)                              
  • Lazaro Gutierrez and Aurelia Gutierrez—jewelry/contemporary designs                  
  • Joan Hellquist—wildlife images hand painted on Indian-made drums
  • Elizabeth Jenkins—hand-woven jackets, vests, and scarves
  • Sarena Mann—Papier-mâché mobiles and sculpture figures
  • Adrian Martinez—all-natural wood inlay pictures
  • Michael McCullough—acrylic and watercolor paintings
  • Dana McDaniel and Ron McGowan—kiln-fired glass with silver embedded/attached
  • Kate Nilssen and Morten Nilssen—hand-woven women’s apparel
  • Dana Patterson Roth—photography of botanicals, landscapes, and people
  • John Saunders—watercolor paintings of horses, wolves, and wildlife
  • Pam and Villy Slipyan—custom leather belts, handbags, hatbands, eclectic jewelry, contemporary necklaces, pendants, earrings
  • Phil Sonier—wildlife and Western photography
  • Jeff and Myan Sorensen—naturally-shed deer, elk, and reindeer antler jewelry with semi-precious stones
  • Diana Stetson—fine art printmaking, monotypes, collographs, and etchings
  • Willow Summers—wearable art of semi-precious wire and beads, worldly postage stamps, collage-embellished pins and magnets
  • Patricia Wyatt—paintings and mixed media
  • Judith Young & Allan Edgar—edgar stone mosaic, inlay in sterling 


5 Calle de Carbon Highway 165
Refreshments: Hot food by the fifth-grade class; bake sale (Frito pies, chile stew, burritos, desserts, and drinks)


  • Amy Adshead—original copperplate etchings, hand-inked, hand-printed
  • Marjie Bassler—whimsical animal art
  • Paul Birchak—sculptural ceramics icons, imagery in plaques, vases, wall sconces, and pastel paintings
  • Roger Preston Blatz and Roxanne Bebee Blatz—mostly color photography of landscapes, scenics, humor, abstract
  • Sallyjane Bolle—rock art jewelry
  • Bunny Bowen—matted and framed batik landscapes, silk scarves
  • Michael Burris and Katherine Goulandris—jewelry, self-made sterling silver gemstone pendants with loom work neckpiece
  • Annette and Shawn Caffrey—copper and aluminum home and office accessories
  • Heather Carlson—aspen lamps (wood-burned and painted), paper lampshades
  • David Chavez—watercolor paintings of historic architecture of the Southwest in landscape of the region
  • Barbara Clark—paintings in pastel, acrylic, and oils
  • Ramona Eastwood and Matthew Eastwood—original jewelry designs, hand-cut, handcrafted overlay
  • Terrence Emery—sterling silver inlay jewelry with semi-precious stones
  • Renee Brainard Gentz—hand-dyed cotton and silk turned into wearables and wall art
  • Mario Hinojo—intricately carved gourds by hand, using images of the Southwest
  • D.L. Horton—fused dichroic jewelry and petroglyph etched stemware
  • David Reed Johnson—wooden cutting boards, trays, and clipboards
  • Sandy and Michael Kadisak—fine art pottery, ceramic sculpture of little people and animals
  • Elzbieta Kaleta—freehand scissor paper cutouts/collage
  • Maria Kenarova—decorative plaques and wall vases
  • David  Magruder—watercolors of wildlife, birds, flowers, and butterflies
  • Art Menchego—Native images in watercolor, oils, pencil drawings 
  • Randy Miller—multi-stones inlaid in sterling silver jewelry
  • Rachel Nelson—wreaths and ornaments made from pine cones and other plant materials
  • Sue Orchant—hand-painted silk scarves, clothing, pillows, wall art
  • Renee Rector—hand-woven fabric sewn into hats, jackets, vests, ruanas, ponchos and scarves
  • Jim Sacoman—punched tin and copper colcha in tin
  • Gary Singer—photography of landscapes, birds, and wildlife
  • Alice Slemmons—functional and decorative kiln-worked glass
  • Janice Smith—acrylics on wood, clay, gourds, and found objects
  • Reynold Stafford—Southwest carved trunks, chests, benches, cabinets, mirrors
  • Holly Stults—museum-quality silver, pearl, gemstone jewelry
  • Deb Suess—hand-woven Rio Grande-style textiles and hand-knit wearable art
  • Geri Verble—tribal and ethnic jewelry
  • Mike Walsh—wheel-thrown ash glazed stoneware
  • Sheenasha Warner, Tim and Loren Warner—traditional beadwork jewelry, beadwork and leather handbags, hand-painted ornaments
  • Gail Diane Yovanovich—Southwest, nature, mid-scape fine art photography

Napolin and Roller

Mark Napolin and Gary Roller

Placitas art scene

—Ron Sullivan

It takes a whole village to mount a successful art show, and this one was no exception.

During the 2009 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, an art event occurred in Placitas at the Rockin’ R Gallery in Homestead Village. It was not the first time that artists have been featured at the Gallery. What made it special was the number of individuals whose featured art was displayed for three days in the Placitas venue.

Jerardo Teno, master potter from Mata Ortiz, showcased his pottery—from effigies honoring his pre-Columbian heritage to contemporary works. During the three-day event, Jera demonstrated his slip designs and firing techniques. Several of his pieces were sold. Thanks to Diane and Chuck Homer’s commissioned ceramic alpaca, we were invited to gather piñon and cedar on the Homers’ and a neighbor’s properties for the firing. The Homers also donated alpaca dung, which provided an extra burst of Fahrenheit.

Thanks to Jera’s vision and skills on one of his early morning treks, he discovered a vein of clay in an arroyo within a short hike from our Placitas home. Using the most basic of implements, he demonstrated his talent by creating a coyote using a yucca branch and moisture found near the base of the clay bank. We have since named it the Tena Clay Fields.

Jerardo and Norma Hernandez, his wife, have won many awards. They’ve been married for sixteen years and are proud parents of two daughters and a son. Most recently, he took first place in the Concurso (Competition) Ceramica de Mata Ortiz 2009. Norma learned to pot from her husband and specializes in miniature pots with Mimbres designs. She, too, is a multiple winner at the Concurso.

Tito and Pablo Carrillo are our friends. We met them as Tucson traders of Mata Ortiz pottery. They have dedicated many years to the ceramic community of Mata Ortiz, Mexico, helping to transform it into a world-class potting community. Tito and Pablo drove to Palomas, Mexico, a border town crossing, to meet Jera and deliver him to our doorstep.

Tito’s love of his Tucson multicultural heritage is best described in a community stories article by Voices that speaks to the past and present of Tucson. Tito says, “I’ve lived here all my life. During World War II, my mother remarried a Mexican American who had a business called Cactus Cleaners in South Tucson. There were two cleaners—Garcia and Cactus. We had all the Mexican American barrios. I worked there with my stepfather delivering clothes. The Chinese I would deliver to would be eating Chinese food, and they would ask if I wanted some. I would deliver to the African American families and go in there and smell that barbecue. Everyone knew me because I was the cleaner man. I was accepted by everybody.”

When Pablo is not by his father’s side or driving the Tortuga Dos (Turtle Two) van, he can often be found enjoying breakfast in John Franklin’s A&E Foods & Café at Homestead Village. When the restaurant begins to fill, it is not uncommon to see Pablo deliver menus to the customers’ tables and take their breakfast orders. We think John appreciates his actions.

If you live in Placitas, you probably know the Rollers. Carolyn and Gary are owner/partners in the Rockin R Gallery. We felt confident that once they were introduced to the Carrillos, something special would eventually happen. It did! With lots of email chatter, a calendar spot in the Signpost and the Albuquerque Journal, and word of mouth, the event was set for the final weekend of Balloon Fiesta. With great weather, traffic from the Merc, A&E Foods & Café, Blades Bistro, and of course Balloon Fiesta gatherers, the event kicked off Friday evening.

There are a lot of us who collect and appreciate Mata Ortiz pottery. It seemed like the entire art community of Northern New Mexico and beyond was there. A Native American Mandan family from North Dakota appeared with guitar and beautiful voices and performed a chant blessing. Bill Freeman, Placitas artist and prolific collector, demonstrated his slip application techniques with Jera watching on with a smiling face. Chuck and Diane Homer, our alpaca ranch neighbors, commissioned a piece of Jera’s work. Of course it was a ceramic handmade alpaca. Gene McClain, a Rockin R Gallery partner and artist, provided his own display of furniture creations, paintings, murals, and sculpture.

As we said our ‘buenas noches‘ and ‘bonne nuits‘ on Friday evening, a final unwelcomed visitor appeared at our doorstep. For me, it was a positive foreshadowing of the two remaining days of our show. A piñon mouse tenaciously tried, unsuccessfully, to experience the remaining moments of one of Placitas’s great art events. After clinging to the Rockin R Gallery’s stucco wall and fending off screams, shouts, and near misses of cowgirl and cowboy boots, the mouse scurried off into the darkness. Oh, what a night!






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