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Artist Cirrelda Snider-Bryan
Artist Cirrelda Snider-Bryan

Watercolor: Highway 44 Looking West at San Ysidro Clay: Neighbor Guineas
Watercolor: Highway 44 Looking West at San Ysidro Clay: Neighbor Guineas

Signpost featured artist of the month: Cirrelda Snider-Bryan

The art of knowing how to live

Cirrelda Snider-Bryan is an artist of life, the kind who creates not so much for the sake of her oeuvre—certainly not at the expense of everything else going on around her—but more as a way to connect with the lovely, fleeting moments of life itself.

Hers is art with a lower-case “a,” a mode of living every day, one moment at a time. Rather than works or ideas, her creative impulses serve a natural inclination to care for others or step up in times of trouble, whose objective is truly realized when the joy of creating is shared.

The artwork itself is most easily recognized in the colorful clay tiles she has been relief-printing with whimsical sketches from everyday life, or the evocative, abstracted pen-and-watercolor landscapes that illustrate her poetry. But it’s also found in her kids’ clay classes at the art compound she built behind her North Valley home and dubbed Pot Hollow South. It’s in a lifetime of private journals filled with nature sketches and poems, and the mural project she came up with in 1990 while teaching at Alvarado Elementary School: eight hundred student-made tiles illustrating a maxim on the importance of trees.

That first collaborative project proved to be an artistic watershed for Snider-Bryan, who saw her interests in art, nature, and community service suddenly come together. These days, she is hard at work on her closest approximation yet to an oeuvre: the Placitas wildlife mural she is spearheading with mosaic artist Laura Robbins.

“When Laura asked me to do this project back in February, I jumped at it,” she said of the two-year, multi-artist collaboration that will be sandwiched into the roster of projects, passions, and freelance businesses she shares with her painter-poet husband, JB Bryan. She and Robbins both harbor a love for animals and nature that borders on the spiritual, and which for her extends equally to family and community.

“My muse, when I feel visited, is definitely to honor some kind of connection,” she says, measuring her words with characteristic restraint. “That’s how I feel called. I’m definitely like, taking care of my family comes first. Then community—at school, being in the milieu. And if there’s an opportunity to bring people into the nice feeling of how it is to create…”

She trails off, brows knit before the nine-by-six-foot Styrofoam slab she is carving as the backing for one panel of the wildlife mural. Propped on sawhorses under a portable shade, it dominates the vista at Pot Hollow South, a shaded garden ringed by art studios, a tree house, archways supporting swings and stray grapevines, and a stucco book-printing studio, all overgrown with bushes and flowers, and completed by a large contented dog sprawled on the sand.

Though her countless hours of work on the wildlife mural will go mostly unpaid, Snider-Bryan hopes a grant will cover the next phase—having children from several area schools contribute foliage, small animals, and finishing details. “Environmental ed[ucation] is an area that I think is really worthy of my time,” the former schoolteacher explains, “and this really dovetails with that.” Plus, she admits, she and her husband “take on a lot of things.”

For him, that means full-time work as a graphic designer, running a letterpress printing business (of poetry books), and painting several nights a week in his Placitas studio, among other things. For her, it includes teaching her private clay classes, doing bookkeeping and publicity for the press, running the household, and volunteering for causes personal and political, from her daughter’s high school to the Obama campaign. The wildlife mural has added a steady stream of artists who drop by for help sculpting tiles, getting pieces fired, or learning about glazes.

Married for twenty-four years, Snider-Bryan testifies to the potential of partnership, in both art and life. She recalls the fun she and JB had buying their fixer-upper adobe in 1985—it didn’t even have a kitchen sink—and building their separate art studios in back (his solid, hers ramshackle). The property evolved with their vocations: She quit teaching in 1994 when their daughter was born, and started taking home-school kids for private art classes. When he got back into ceramics (which was how they met), she added a clay studio for him under their daughter’s tree house. The arrival of the hot-type press usurped his painting studio, so they bought a house in Placitas as his creative getaway, where he recently built a Japanese teahouse.

In contrast to her husband’s aesthetic, which embraces the wabi-sabi naturalism of Zen Buddhism, Snider-Bryan finds herself drawn to Japan’s animistic nature religion, Shinto. “Honoring nature is what I’m drawn to. If people ask me, I say I’m pagan-Presbyterian, because I like to honor my upbringing,” she notes of her roots in Oklahoma. She cites a central tenet of Celtic paganism: “Nature is, at its core, good. Worship is done outside, because that’s where the Creator is.”

Their marriage of opposites extends to the artistic couple’s working styles: Her husband is focused and driven, she notes, whereas she tends to be more diffuse and multi-tasking, as is typical of women—less concerned with product than process. Even in high school back in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she recalls spending long hours throwing pots at the ceramics studio and slicing them open to check her progress, mostly because she just loved hanging out there.

“We had two or three records with clay fingerprints on them, Bob Dylan and Jethro Tull,” she smiles, turning suddenly wistful at the connection. “I just loved the atmosphere there… like I love the atmosphere here,” taking in the quiet afternoon, dog, butterflies, and artists content at Pot Hollow South. “Some people really do like coming here to work,” she muses, adding quickly, “not many.”

With a shrug, she turns back to the Styrofoam slab, an artist in her world—possibly the subject for a colorful glazed tile sketched with trees, house, family, and dog that might be labeled, “All is well.”

Placitas Mural Project

One of eight arched-paneled murals being installed on the Placitas recycling center wall.

Mural project installs first panel, raises awareness for wildlife movement corridors

Sandoval County is one of the most important links in the “Spine of the Continent”—a corridor which provides movement routes for wildlife, especially for big mammals, to seek food, water, and mates. Hoping to help wildlife survive amid rapid development, the Placitas Recycling Center wall has become a showcase to raise awareness about this concern as it becomes home to a wildlife mural built from clay and glass. The goal of this mosaic mural is to spread the word about the fragility of mountain springs and the shrinking passageways for wildlife in the mountains of north-central New Mexico.

Over two dozen local artists have submitted drawings and completed life-sized clay animals and flora for inclusion in the mural. The work of half of them is currently completed or in progress and will be installed in one of three mosaic panels in the coming months.

Mural project co-organizer Cirrelda Snider-Bryan said, “Thanks to the vision, dedication, and infectious spirit of Laura Robbins, who is allied in so many ways in this community, the wildlife corridor mural is happening and on schedule. The atmosphere in many of our local artist studios has been transformed.”

Local artist Roger Evans developed the concept to install the eight completed murals on arched panels along the recycling center wall, so they can be seen by residents who drive by. Mid-August saw the bolting-in and on-site grouting of the first two panels: the title panel and a transition life-zone panel. A host of almost twenty volunteers organized by Daisy Kates spent sixteen hours over three days to install these first two panels at the site. Later this month, a second life-zone panel with a high country theme will be installed on the recycling center wall.

As a participant in Pathways: Wildlife Corridors of New Mexico—a nonprofit, grassroots collective which has the vision to see that all animals who need to move between New Mexico’s mountains may do so freely and without harm—Laura Robbin’s idea for the mural struck in the winter of 2007 and was immediately supported by many, including the Las Placitas Association and the Recycling Center Board. In the intervening six months, other artists who heard of the project through the Signpost and other community events came forward with a common bond to raise awareness for wildlife corridors around the area.

In the currently installed life-zone panel, the bear and cub were made by Karl Hofmann; the great horned owl and rabbits are by Cate Clark; the ring-tailed cat is by Barb Belknap; the quail family was made by Judith Roderick; and the plant life and grey fox are by Laura Robbins. Hours of glass and tile mosaic work to assemble the panel were contributed by Susan Lashbrook, Rick Kossow, Carole Vosburgh, Anne Arkin, Daisy Kates, Eve Jones, Barb Belknap, Cate Clark, and Laura Robbins.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students at Placitas Elementary have also gotten in on the project through the guidance of Cirrelda Snider-Bryan and art teacher John Bradley, who helped the children make plant tiles; Linda Hughes who included the project in Placitas Elementary’s Art in the School program; the Placitas Elementary fourth- and fifth-grade teachers; and their school principal Daniel MacEachen. The panel to showcase the students’ plant tiles will be another transition life-zone theme with antelope, elk, and deer, and it is scheduled for installation this spring.

If you are interested in volunteering your help on the project, you may contact Cirrelda at or Laura at

Placitas Artists Series presents cello/guitar duo Montana Skies

On September 14 at 3:00 p.m. at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, the Placitas Artists Series will present the Montana Skies duo. The duo’s styles range from finger-picking to flamenco, with an unusual pairing of cello and guitar, as well as the seamless use of modern electronic effects. Jonathan Adams on guitar (steel string and Spanish/nylon) and Jennifer Adams on cello (acoustic cello and her six-string electric cello) make up the duo and together explore the boundaries of contemporary instrumental music.

Jonathan and Jennifer met almost a decade ago while studying music at the University of Georgia. They discovered music written for cello/guitar was as rare as the cello/guitar combination itself. Not having a set repertoire has given these artists a great freedom in their musical expression. Jonathan explains, “Throughout the years, we have developed many of our own arrangements, ranging from world music and classical to original compositions. We love composing and arranging, and appreciate the opportunity to present old favorites, along with newer music, to our audiences.”

The concert is sponsored by Lucy Noyes; Dick Hopkins; and La Puerta Real Estate Services, LLC. 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 or online at Prices for the Montana Skies concert are $18 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students. An artists’ reception for September exhibiting visual artists Janet Shaw Amtmann, David W. Cramer, Susan Jordan, and Vera Russell will begin at 1:30 p.m. prior to the concert.

Signpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Klimpert does Santa Fe

Canyon Road Contemporary Gallery will host an opening reception for Rudi Klimpert’s show “New Mexico Views” on Friday, August 29. This one-man show will feature Klimpert’s vibrant oil paintings with rustic door and memorabilia themes merged with Southwestern landscapes. Working from a consistent palette of bold color, Klimpert’s painting glow New Mexico in this historic building that was once the Manuel Delgado House.

Canyon Road Contemporary Gallery is located at 403 Canyon Road, Santa Fe. For

further information, contact the gallery at 505-983-0433.

Poets and spoken word artists converge at Duende event

On Sunday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m. at Anasazi Fields Winery, the Duende Poetry Series presents a gala reading with Joan Logghe, Sawnie Morris, and Michelle Holland of Tres Chicas Books, as well as a finale reading of “STIR: A Festival of Words,“ featuring out-of-town poets Regie Cabico, Sheri-D Wilson, Catt Kidd, and others.

Joan Logghe, one of the founders of Tres Chicas Books will introduce Morris and Holland, whose book (along with Catherine Ferguson), The Sound a Raven Makes won the New Mexico Book Award for Poetry in 2007. Logghe has been one of the movers and shakers in the New Mexican poetry scene since the 1960s. She was poetry editor for Mothering Magazine for seven years and has been awarded a National Endowment in Poetry and a Barbara Deming Memorial/Money for Women grant. Author of numerous books, Logghe has taught workshops at Armand Hammer United World College, Taos Institute, Vancouver International Writer’s Conference, New Mexico School for the Deaf, New Mexico State Penitentiary, and Ghost Ranch Conference Center, where she has been on the faculty since 1991. She is project director of Write Action: Writing from the Heart of AIDS, a grassroots organization which offers free writing workshops to Santa Fe, plus educational outreach to schools throughout northern New Mexico.

Sawnie Morris has made Taos her home since 1983. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyan Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and other literary journals. She won a Texas Pen Literary Award and the National ACLU Creative Non-Fiction Prize. She teaches literature and writing at the University of New Mexico in Taos, and is co-founder of Amigos Bravos, an eighteen-year-old nonprofit river protection and social justice organization for the Rio Grande watershed. She is married to artist and environmental activist Brian Shields.

Michelle Holland lives in Chimayo with her husband, fifteen-year-old daughter, two horses, two dogs, a cat, some very fat koi, a few laying hens and a nasty rooster, two widowed love-birds, and four bunnies. For the past twelve years, she has been co-poetry editor for the Sin Fronteras journal. Her first book of poems, Love in the Real World, was published by Palanquin Press in 1999. She is also very active as a poetry slam coach with teams in the Española and Chimayo area.

This reading is part of the three-day festival, STIR, organized by Lisa Gill and the Harwood Art Center, being held in various venues around Albuquerque. The festival will gather together an eclectic mix of people, poetry, music, visual arts, film, organizations, and events for readings, workshops, performances, collaborations, and a small press book fair.

Filipino performance poet and comedian Regie Cabico lives in New York City and is known as a one-man cabaret infused with pop culture, humor, and insight. He is a spoken word pioneer, having won top prizes in the 1993, 1994, and 1997 National Poetry Slams. He is the recipient of three New York Innovative Theater Award Nominations, with an award for 2006 Best Performance Art Production.

Sheri-D Wilson, “The Mama of Dada,” is internationally renowned for her jazz-infused performance style laced with a biting wit. Poet, playwright, performer, filmmaker, essayist, and teacher, she is the artistic director of the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival.

Catherine Kidd is a spoken word artist from Montreal, whose work has been described as “an adult blend of Dr. Seuss and Aesop’s Fables.” She has performed at festivals such as Edinburgh’s Fringe, as well as in Oslo, Bristol, Singapore, South Africa, and many others.

For more information about STIR, visit or

At the Duende Poetry event, there will be a variety of tasty snacks, books by the authors, and Anasazi Fields Winery will be offering its delicious products. Non-alcoholic drinks will also be available. Donations will help pay the poets. For more information, please contact Jim Fish at 867-3062 or Cirrelda Snider-Bryan at 897-0285.



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