November 02, 2023

Artists Iney Godfrey + Sondra Radcliffe

By Rebekah Bellingham
Artists Iney Godfrey + Sondra Radcliffe

Where did you two grow up?

Iney: Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Until 18

Sondra: I grew up in Francisville, Indiana. It’s a 2000 population Amish farming community. It was Christian Apostolic, but people from the outside call this Amish because the women rolled their hair and we had high neck clothes and things like that.  

And you met in….

Sondra: We worked in the same hospital in Indianapolis. My ex husband was a psychiatric resident at Carter Hospital, and I was a research assistant in neuropsychology. And Iney was a social worker… so we gravitated toward each other…

Iney: … almost primarily because we were the only cool people there!

Well, how were you dressed?!

Iney: Miniskirts and high boots and bright colors!

So, you were birds of a feather?

Iney: Yeah. And then we double dated a little bit…

Sondra: …and when I left my ex husband, I came back to Indianapolis and lived close to Iney. Then we both decided we wanted to travel and so we went over to Europe as language students. She went to Spain to learn Spanish and I went to France to learn French. And we didn’t want to go back after we took our summer classes so we stayed another 9 months.

Iney: She had her 7-year-old daughter, Carla us. And we traveled and lived in a little orange Volkswagen Squareback, and lived out of the car.

You lived out of the car?

Iney: We lived out of the car and along the way we both had boyfriends and sometimes they‘d be in there with us. We all fit in there, with the guitar at an angle.

Sondra: We went to 17 countries. We went to France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Africa…


Do you have a favorite place from that experience?

Iney: For me, I think Seville, Spain. We stayed six months there, after we… 

Sondra: …after living in the car, and going to Africa and different countries 


So what brought you back to the States?

Iney: When we came back we just said, okay we are going to be artists. So we tried all different kinds of mediums to see what we liked and we ended up with glass.

Iney, I know you retired from psychotherapy last year. So, when did you go back to psychotherapy after deciding to be an artist?

Iney: So let’s see. I’ve taken different breaks, once for 11 years.

Sondra: That’s when we came back I think.

Iney: That’s when we developed ourselves, learning the craft, learning to develop ourselves as artists and slowly got better and better. And when money got low and we weren't doing so well as artists, I’d go back to work and then I’d quit again. Actually when I moved here (to Portland in 2008) I quit, then after 5 years went back to work for 10 years. There’s nothing more fascinating than human behavior. I’ve learned so much from my clients. 

Sondra: I got my masters in art therapy, and I became an expressive arts therapist and taught where I went to school and I worked in hospice for 9 years as an expressive arts therapist. So I'd do the singing and the dancing… and then I worked in a residential treatment center for adolescent children and latency aged children.

Iney: We both got advanced training. I got a PHD (in my 50’s) and she got a masters (at 48).


You two were busy.

Iney: And then I studied at the Gestalt Institute in Cleveland, which is a fabulous place, and then I taught there some so you know…. we’ve…

Sondra: We’ve done everything! I was a flamenco dancer at a dance company and I taught creative writing at an arts immersion for inner city kids…

Iney: …and we had two galleries, children…

Sondra: So the first gallery we had, Sarah was a baby, she’s 44 now, I would have Sarah nursing under me with a blanket


So that’s amazing… you just decided in your 30’s…

Iney: We wanted to be artists!...We had a lot of artist friends in Indianapolis and… people in mental health were a little bit boring, but fun. The art is really what gelled our relationship.

So you basically cultivated a community of artist friends. 

Iney: We bought this house, we had no money, times were very different, for $27,000, this fabulous house with a big backyard…

Sondra: With a studio and a big nice basement…

Iney: And as we got better as artists and got more into the artistic community, we would empty our whole first floor. And of course we didn’t have anything in the living room for a while because Sondra would dance there with all her friends… and then we did shows. With seven other artists for years and it became a community happening… I mean they called us the Girls on Washington Boulevard. Everyone knew us as artists, and all of our really good friends would have these shows… in the beginning it was 4 times a year, then 2 times a year. We walked away from it all to be here with the kids.

But you’ve obviously been able to do it for 50 years in some capacity in your life, that is pretty amazing.

Iney: it’s pretty wonderful

Sondra: And the fact that we get along well enough to work on the same thing… Iney was still working (as a psychotherapist) when I was sort of stockpiling things during covid… hahah. I had to have some kind of structure.

Let’s talk about fashion a little bit. You’ve seen a lot in your travels, and over time. Is there a moment in your history that you wish you could replicate?

Iney: When we were in Italy, we bought these fabulous shoes. They were bright colors

Sondra: Platforms

Iney: Wlatforms, beautiful leather. I mean we had no money but we splurged on these shoes, they were just gorgeous. I remember that.

What color were they?

Iney: Yellow and green

Sondra: Oh that wasn't in Italy, it was in Lisbon, Portugal. Mine were strappy, and a bright green.

Iney: But when we were traveling, we had no money. We were going to the galleries and the museums, or on the ocean, or in the woods, in nature. As far as clothes go, I think the funnest time was in the 60’s. Which was also a hard time as women, I mean we were hit on every day. And you know, you can imagine if you can imagine the problems today, back then it was even worse. But that was a fun time for dresses because it was spunky, great colors, even the slips were really really cute. Pattered…

Sondra: I wish I had all that stuff. The lace up boots that would go up to your knees, the bellbottom pants. I had a black and white dress that was really dancy….

Iney: So just many colors

Sondra: I came from a cloistered, navy blue place…. My mother was a little radical because she was a half member (of the church) because she married my dad who was part Native American. When she got free of the church she really loved clothes and loved shoes and I have beautiful pictures of her.


Did you have any style icons?

Sondra: In my early years, my father was a music teacher and had six kids and my mother was a stay at home mom. She made all my clothes and I was always chagrined to wear the homemade clothes, and always had to wear hand-me-downs. My mom always had to wear these house dresses. But then I had a house dress that I wore that I got at an antique store and I wore it all the time, it reminded me of my mom. She always had flowers and alway wanted brighter clothes, but the church cut that down, but she rebelled. But in the 60’s when I got out from Francisville, and I could pick my own things, I wore a lot of brighter, flowery, louder colors and things like that.

Iney: I gravitated to music so one of the privileges of being this old, for example, my boyfriend and I went to downtown Milwaukee and saw Nina Simone three nights in a row. And no one even knew her, it was a tiny little club, there were maybe 10 people in there, and Nina and her trio. It was unbelievable. I mean throughout all the years, we were around when all these musicians came to light and we experienced it and could go see them in a small area sitting 10 feet from BB King. I love music, music is my healing. That was a privilege. We were there when they first evolved. There were just spurts of time when everything came alive in many different ways.

(We got off topic for a while, and got onto aging…. This is what happened once I started talking about being middle aged, I’m 41)


Sondra: We lived so much after the age of 40.

Iney: I would tell my clients, because I’m an old biddy, and I would just say…

Sondra: She's more than twice 40! I’m more than twice 40!

Iney: …you can have so many chapters, or not. I would tell my clients, you have so much time. A lot of my clients were in their 30s or 40s and they thought their life was over. You know it’s like, you have so much time, and then we figure it out. And I would ask them, what do you want for your next chapter? People hit a certain age and think, this is it.

Sondra: On the other side of the coin, now, Iney and I talk about it… I've been so programmed to try to make a living and work and work and work and cook on all these burners. And now I’m trying to deprogram myself and just enjoy my life more and play more and not have to accomplish something everyday

Iney: This is a cultural thing

Sondra: When we lived in Europe, especially Spain, people just had fun. They weren’t so driven. I mean we have fun, we had a lot of fun but I still think at the end of the day I still think I didn’t accomplish anything today...

Iney: When you did a million things! When you hit 80, there's something about hitting 80. If you get that far, then you kind of begin to think oh, I might not have so much time left. Now I’m almost 85! I’m pretty healthy still, but you know I can feel it. And you know that your time is limited but there’s not a whole lot I still want to do. I've done a lot. Yeah I don’t have any regrets.