Behind the mask of creativity: Corrales veteran talks art

Corrales potter Rick Snow displays a mask based off of the Arthurian legend of the Forest Man in his studio last week.
(Stephen Montoya/Rio Rancho Observer)


CORRALES — Finding an artistic outlet is one of many accomplishments Corrales resident and Vietnam veteran Rick Snow can add to his list of lifelong goals.

Snow, a man who says he can build anything he sees, has dabbled in woodwork and pottery for many years and has established himself to be one of Corrales’ biggest supporters of the arts.

He said he moved to the quiet suburb of Corrales just before he retired from the Secretary of the Army’s Office of Research and Development Acquisition in the Pentagon after working for the outfit in one way or another for 20 years.

Since then, he has been busy remodeling his home, growing grapes in his vineyard and, yes, you guessed it, creating art in his pottery studio.

“I used to design stuff as a kid,” Snow said. “I started out making furniture, armoires and tables.”

He said the last serious piece of furniture he made was an armoire for his son when he got married.

“I put secret drawers in it, just like you get in Europe, with a $100 bill and a note in one of the drawers,” Snow said with a sneaky grin. “The note said, ‘When you find this give me a call.'”

Snow said it took his son about six months to find the money and the note and to call.

Pottery became a part of Snow’s life out of sheer boredom and the desire to learn something new.

“I was playing golf three times a week and everything was going fine, but intellectually, I got bored,” he said.

Soon after he realized he wanted something new in his life, Snow enrolled in a pottery program at the local community college in the state he was living in to remedy his doldrums.

“My instructor noticed that I was in my element and asked me if I would assist him if he allowed me to play in the lab for free, you know, learn my craft,” he said.

Snow said he was given hands-on instruction on how to load kilns, mix glazes and prepare clay.

He found himself practicing pottery for three hours a day, three days of the week.

After a few years of helping with the pottery classes, Snow began to sell his pieces at art shows.

“I started making masks based off of the Arthurian legend of the forest man,” he said. “There is one called the Green Knight of Sir Galahad…which is half-tree half -man, so that was my first design.”

Snow moved on to make many masks depicting different themes and characters, never repeating the same motif.

The next theme he ventured into was making intricately decorated pottery.

“It normally takes me three times of trial and error before I get a design that I really like,” Snow said.

After molding a piece, Snow said he has to let it sit for four days before he can continue on to the next step.

“After it’s dry, you have to clean the piece up; it’s called trimming,” he said.

This is when, he said, a piece is at its most delicate state and easy to break.

Snow jokingly points to the walkway of his shop, which is covered with broken pieces of art that never made it past this point.

“I call it the walk of shame, and I have no problem with throwing it out and watching it shatter. That’s how I learn,” he said.

If the piece makes it past this point, the next step is to fire it in the kiln, called bisc firing, which can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The final step is glazing; this is where Snow said he adds whatever color palette he wants to one of his pottery pieces.

“I have made every mistake you can make when it comes to type of art form,” he said.

Snow said he is proud of his finished pottery and is always delighted to share his knowledge of the craft with others.

“I am always willing to share and teach what I know,” he said. “Ever since I started doing this, I have had a profound sense of accomplishment.”

Snow said he will show some of his work at the art studio tour in May in Corrales.

For more information on Snow’s art, call 350-7084.