Rio Rancho, NM and Sandoval County Inspire Artistic Expression

Discover the natural beauty of this arts destination along with some local artists who call the area home.

By
Kevin Litwin
On Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 09:58
Rio Rancho, NM Art

Award-winning artist Barbara Clark only has to step out her front door to find inspiration. The talented painter lives in the charming village of Corrales, minutes from Rio Rancho, but a world away from the pace of the city.

“I know how lucky I am to live here. There are no golden arches, no neon signs or even a grocery store,” says Clark, who, along with Susana Erling, a wire and paper sculptor and painter, owns Corrales Fine Arts. The pair creates and exhibits their work there, along with curated pieces from other local talents. Particularly popular are Clark’s hand-painted wine glasses and front license plates.

“You can’t throw a stick without hitting another artist. The support for each other in the artistic community is abundant,” she adds.

The picturesque rural hamlet, which has been called Mayberry on the Rio Grande, is a certified New Mexico Arts & Cultural District and is home to the historic Old San Ysidro Church, built in 1868 and today a popular cultural events venue.

Clark’s business is located in the Mercado de Maya, a creative strip of other galleries and inviting places along Corrales Road, the main drag in the heart of town, which includes the Corrales Bosque Gallery, an artist-owned cooperative established in 1994. Inside is an eclectic display of New Mexico visual fine arts and crafts available in a reasonable range of prices. A short distance away is the recently opened Corrales Arts Center, where a wide variety of visual and performing arts classes for adults and children, concerts from jazz to opera and a gallery are offered.

Not to be missed is the Corrales Art and Studio Tour that is presented by the Corrales Society of Artists each May, representing nearly 80 artists and is a key date on the New Mexico creative calendar.

“I like to say, ‘We all do better when we all do better,’” says Clark. “I’m thrilled to promote other artists, and I enjoy seeing arts growing and being elevated in Corrales.”

For those who enjoy the vibe of a larger venue, the city of Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center is a 7,000-seat multipurpose arena that has an exciting lineup of concerts, live comedy shows and the highly anticipated Pork and Brew Food Festival. The three-day cook-off brings together some of the region’s best barbecue cooks, beer, live music and family activities.

Natural Beauty

Less than a half-hour drive northeast of Corrales is the city of Bernalillo, where the Angus McDougall Gallery is located behind the Range Café. The gallery showcases fine artwork by contemporary New Mexican artists in an old adobe structure and is open by appointment.

Another quaint hamlet in Sandoval County is Jemez Springs, a serene place of soothing hot mineral springs and stunning natural wonders, including the Jemez Mountains.

Rio Rancho, NM Craft Jewelry
Courtesy of Janecka Skin Care

It is from Mother Nature’s plentiful bounty here that Elizabeth Janecka handcrafts her 100% natural skin care and mineral makeup lines. The Janecka Collection has grown to include free-form pottery, jewelry, furniture and guitars created by her children.

The Wesley Janecka custom minimalist-designed furniture is prized with collectors because of its thoughtful designs, clean lines and turquoise stones inlaid into the wood’s knots, holes and cracks.

“I started the natural skin care as a necessity for myself, and it grew alongside the handcrafted items our family makes,” Janecka says.

“We create everything ourselves to ensure the Janecka brand quality. Our products are all New Mexico True Certified. We draw our inspiration from the beautiful views from our studio, which is located between the two mesas, Virgin Mesa and Cat Mesa, in the Jemez Mountains.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.