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Felix Lopez, Santero

June 30 - October 21, 2007

 

Wall text from the exhibition

Félix López: Master Santero
(b. 1942, Gilman, CO)
 
"Being a santero is a calling, a blessing from God. For me it serves to center my life and my spirituality. Carving is almost like breathing. If I don't do it every day, something is missing."
 
Félix López, as quoted in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and
Latinas in the United States (2005)
 
Born in 1942, Félix López grew up in the small town of Santa Cruz, NM, where life revolved around religion, family, and community. Spanish was the language of the community, but this was an era when speaking Spanish in school was often discouraged. Perhaps in response to this repression of a part of his heritage, Félix developed an early interest in the Spanish language and went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and German and a Master's degree in Spanish Literature. Following a short teaching stint in California, he and his wife, Louise, moved back to Santa Cruz where Félix spent the next 21 years teaching at his alma mater, Española Valley High School. "I wanted to teach the Spanish language to our own kids, most of whom could understand it and speak it somewhat but did not know how to read or write in Spanish. I felt that they needed to know more about their own history and culture, to better understand who they are."
 
Then, in 1975, the death of his father awakened a different desire in Félix. His family held the wake service in the local morada, the meetinghouse of the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus of Nazareth (los Penitentes). The loss of his father, the wake in the morada with traditional prayers and alabados (hymns of praise), and the historic devotional images that graced the casket, touched López deeply. It was this experience that led him to express himself creatively.
 
López began to experiment, first with clay and then with carving and straw appliqué. In 1976, he entered his first Spanish Market -- and won 1st Place in straw appliqué. By 1981 he had won his first award for devotional carving. He joined La Escuelita, a group of santeros who banded together to meet informally to carve, talk, and exchange ideas. This kind of camaraderie continues into the present and is part of Félix's working environment; a born teacher, he is quick to share his knowledge of methods and techniques and encourages other artists, his children among them. Becoming involved with carving and straw appliqué proved to be most helpful in teaching about Hispanic culture to his students. "As I began to meet other artists working in other traditional art forms, I would invite them to my classes to talk to my students about their art. It was a positive learning experience that served to instill pride in our rich history and culture."
 
For López, inspiration comes from his everyday experiences -- what he happens to see or read in a book or magazine, a visit to a church, museum or gallery, people, nature and from travel. Trips to Mexico, France, Spain and Italy have given him new perspectives and ideas for his work. While López bases his santos on traditional subject matter, he is innovative in his artistic interpretations. He believes that he remains true to the spirit of the santero tradition. López's distinctive style comes not only from his skill as a carver, but from his understanding of human emotion. Every image he carves carries an individual expression: serene, pensive, compassionate, determined. His figures are graceful and elongated, and the sometimes exaggerated features, (especially the hands), relate to the overall concept of the image. He captures the power of St. Michael the Archangel, the dexterity and strength of St. Joseph the carpenter and the beauty and grace of the Virgin Mary. His palette of natural pigments-like the New Mexico landscape-- is both subtle and wonderfully rich.
 
López's artistic career took off following the 1987 traveling exhibition, "Hispanic Art in the United States" organized by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Included as one of 30 featured artists, López still receives commissions and calls as a result of the exhibition. But even after receiving national recognition and being included in numerous exhibitions and publications, López remains inextricably tied to New Mexico and to his roots: "Every July, you'll find me in a Spanish Market booth in Santa Fe," he says, "The market inspires me to create, and it reminds me that I should never let myself get too far away from home."
 
 
Joseph A. López
(b. 1970, Española, NM)
Joseph López began making straw appliqué crosses alongside his father when he was just 7 years old. Now 37, he received a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico (UNM), and his life work has been his art, with a short break for a high school and college athletic career. He oftentimes shares the same workspace with his father and sister where they create and critique each other's work and motivate one another. As explained by Joseph, "I think that's what helps our whole family to excel at our artwork and what keeps us innovative."
 
Widely traveled, Joseph applies techniques that he has learned abroad to his artwork, continually expanding his repertoire and experimenting with new ideas. In 1999, he received an Education Grant from the Spanish Colonial Arts Society that funded a visit to Mexico where he learned the historic technique of creating santos of pasta de caña, a technique widely used in the Michoacán area. With this knowledge, he created a large bulto of a Monja Coronada (Crowned Nun), based on Mexican colonial paintings and the Pre-Columbian technique. The image won the Hispanic Heritage Award in 2000 and was then gifted to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.
 
In 2004 he traveled to Bolivia where he presented a workshop as one of the programs for the exhibition Cuando Hablan los Santos organized by the UNM's Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque. Later he spent one-and-one-half years in Hawaii, carving Hispanic santos while also learning the Polynesian Island style of carving. Then came a three-month stay in Florence, Italy, studying art history and the Italian language. Most recently Joseph visited Israel, Egypt and Jordan. All of these experiences have influenced his art, both technically and spiritually. He also teaches carving periodically at the Santa Fe Community College and finds that being both a teacher and a student has given him a fuller appreciation for the work that he is doing as a carver.
 
Entering Spanish Market as a youth exhibitor, Joseph now is a regular exhibitor and award-winner among the adults. In 1996, he won 1st Place in bultos; in 1997, the Vedder Award; in 1998, 2nd Place for his painted bulto of Moises; in 1999, 2nd Place for bultos en nicho and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society Purchase Award for his bulto of San Roque; in 2000, the Hispanic Heritage Award and the Virgin of Guadalupe award; and in 2006, 1st Place for painted bultos and the E. Boyd Memorial Award.
 
 
Krissa María López
(b. 1971, Santa Fe, NM)
 
Inspired by her father's work, Krissa, like her brother, was first introduced to the arts through straw appliqué. She enjoyed working with straw and continued to improve her technique, winning 1st Place in straw appliqué at Spanish Market in both 1994 and 1995. She might well have continued her career in straw if it hadn't been for a year of study at the Instituto de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua in 1994. It was there that she discovered her love for painting.
 
At the Instituto, Krissa's painting teacher encouraged her to paint an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As she took up the paintbrush, Krissa wondered why she had not done so earlier, as these images had surrounded her during her childhood. She loved the medium and quickly adopted it as her own. A second trip to Mexico in 1996 that included visits to cathedrals and art museums offered a deeper understanding and appreciation for the people and their traditions, which she incorporated into her art. Once back in Santa Fe, Krissa had the good fortune to work with noted Santa Fe artist Michael Bergt who taught her egg tempera, the medium in which she now regularly works. She credits him for challenging her to take her painting skills and techniques to a higher level.
 
All of Krissa's pieces are motivated by a deep sense of spirituality and faith. Upon viewing her work, one senses her close connection with the images that reflect different stages of her life. She often portrays powerful female figures that give her strength and solace. Krissa maintains that her father has always taught her and her brother to honor their traditions and keep them alive through a strong family unit, education and art. "I strive to maintain the dignity and authenticity of what was created by my ancestors, not replicating what they did, but using their work as inspiration for my own creations."
 
Krissa received a BA in Fine Arts and an MA in Art Education from the University of New Mexico. Her husband, Daniel Moya, also an accomplished artist, is a member of Pojoaque Pueblo and Krissa sometimes incorporates Pueblo imagery and designs into her work. The couple believes that passing on their respective traditions to their daughters is very important. New ideas and inspiration also evolved from trips Krissa and Daniel took before they began to raise a family. Their travels took them to Puerto Rico, Central and South America, Europe and China.
 
Krissa and Joseph were among the first youth exhibitors in Spanish Market in the 1970s and she has participated in Market ever since. In addition to receiving awards in straw appliqué, she won the 1997 William Field Design Award; 2nd Place in large retablos and 3rd Place in small retablos in 2002, and 3rd Place in large retablos in 2003. Krissa appreciates the excitement and camaraderie of Spanish Market. "After Market you have such a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling that you have reached your goal."


Object labels from the exhibition

Félix López
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe / Our Lady of Guadalupe
Principios de los 1990's / Early 1990's
Alamillo, pigmentos naturales, paja aplicada/
Aspen, natural pigments, straw
Regalo de / Gift of Nancy Reynolds
MOSCA 1999.039
 
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, is typically
shown as she is here, surrounded by the rays of the sun. López
evokes her role as a compassionate mother of Jesus by her
sympathetic and understanding expression. The stars on her cape are
made of pieces of straw, a medium in which the artist also works.
 
 
Félix López
San Ysidro Labrador / St. Isidore the Farmer
1998
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano,
pegamento de piel de conejo, trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, rabbit skin glue, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
Best of Show, Grand Prize and E.Boyd Memorial Award
1998 Spanish Market.
 
 
Félix López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1977
Pino, paja, pigmento negro/ Pine, straw, black pigment
MOSCA 1977.6
 
 
Félix López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1976
Pino, paja, pigmento negro / Pine, straw, black pigment
Legado de / Bequest of Ann and Alan Vedder
MOSCA 1990.247
 
This cross dates to the first year that López began working as an artist.
 
 
Félix López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1984
Pino, paja, pigmento negro / Pine, straw, black pigment
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
San Miguel / St. Michael
1995
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
pegamento de piel de conejo, trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments,
rabbit skin glue, piñon sap varnish
Donación de / Gift of Margot and Robert Linton al
Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of New Mexico, DCA
 
 
Félix López
San José el Artesano y el Niño Jesús / St. Joseph the Carpenter and the Christ Child
2000
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
pegamento de piel de conejo, trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments,
rabbit skin glue, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Chester Gougis and Shelley Ocahab
 
First Place painted bultos and People's Choice Award
2001 Spanish Market.
 
 
Félix López
La Piedad / Pieta
1997
Pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
pegamento de piel de conejo, trementina de piñón/
Pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments,
rabbit skin glue, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Lillian López Tafoya
Santa Cruz, NM and Bakersfield, CA
 
 
Félix López
Mi Hijo, Abre tu Corazón / My Son, Open your Heart
2004
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
La Humanidad/ Humanity
1991
Alamillo y nogal/ Aspen and walnut
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
La Humanidad / Humanity
1991
Bronce/ Bronze
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
Bailando con la Muerte / Dancing with Death
1984
Cedro, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales, trementina de piñón/
Cedar, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
Nuestra Señora de Dolores / Our Lady of Sorrows
1996
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Judith Espinar
 
 
Félix López
La Reina del Cielo / Queen of Heaven
1996
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Dr. and Mrs. George Holloway
 
 
Félix López
La Virgen María y el Niño Jesús/ The Virgin Mary and Christ Child
2005
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap barnish
Colección Particular/ Private Collection
 
 
Krissa López
Nuestra Señora de Dolores / Our Lady of Sorrows
1996
Madera, témpera de huevo / Wood, egg tempera
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Félix López
San Rafael Arcángel / St. Raphael Archangel
1994
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish
Colección Particular / Private collection
 
 
Félix López
El Mensajero / The Messenger
En Memoria de mi Madrecita, Eva Rodríguez López (7/26/08-2/29/04)
(In Memory of my Mother, Eva Rodríguez López (7/26/08-2/29/04))
2004
Litografía / Lithograph
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Joseph López
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe / Our Lady of Guadalupe
2001
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
hoja de oro, trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, natural hide glue, homemade gesso,
natural pigments, gold leaf, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Joseph López
Santa Cecilia / St. Cecilia
2005
Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales,
hoja de oro, trementina de piñón/
Aspen, pine, natural hide glue, homemade gesso,
natural pigments, gold leaf, piñon sap varnish
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
Florence Dibell Bartlett Award for Design
2006 Spanish Market
 
 
Joseph López
Monja Coronada / Crowned Nun
2000
Pasta de caña, Madera, yeso, pigmento, hoja de oro /
Cane paste, wood, gesso, paint, gold leaf
Donación de / Gift of Balbino y Flora Fernández
MOSCA 2000.66
 
Hispanic Heritage Award for In-Depth Research
2000 Spanish Market.
 
 
Joseph López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1983
Pino, paja, pigmento rojo/ Pine, straw, red pigment
Legado de / Bequest of Ann and Alan Vedder
MOSCA 1990.249
 
 
Krissa López
Nuestra Señora de Dolores / Our Lady of Sorrows
1996
Témpera de huevo / Egg tempera
Colección de / Collection of Krissa López-Moya and Daniel Moya
 
 
Krissa López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1993
Pino, paja, pigmento negro/ Pine, straw, black pigment
Donación de / Gift of Nancy Reynolds
MOSCA 2000.8
 
Krissa López
Cruz con Paja Aplicada / Straw Cross
1983
Pino, paja, pigmento rojo/ Pine, straw, black pigment
Legado de / Bequest of Ann and Alan Vedder
MOSCA 1990.248
 
 
Krissa López-Moya
La Beata Kateri Tekakwitha / The Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha
2005
Alamillo, pino, tempera de huevo, barro local /
Aspen, pine, egg tempera, micaceous clay
Colección de / Collection of El Potrero
 
A member of the Turtle Clan of the Mohawk nation, Kateri Tekakwitha
was first introduced to the Christian faith by French Jesuit missionaries.
She was baptized in 1676, and led a spiritual life attaining a close union
with God through prayer. She was the first Native North American
proposed for sainthood, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980,
and her canonization is pending. She is the patroness of ecology and
the environment. López-Moya found inspiration for this piece from the Pojoaque Pueblo and their sense of community and fortitude. The corn
stalks on either side of the figure represent New Mexican gardens, the
turtle upon which she stands indicates the Turtle Clan, and the
shield is meant to convey strength and provide protection.
 
 
Krissa López
Mi Abuelito, José Inez López
My Grandfather, José Inez López
1996
Madera, témpera de huevo / Wood, egg tempera
Colección de / Collection of Krissa López-Moya and Daniel Moya
 
 
Krissa López
Cruz con paja aplicada / Straw Cross
1995
Pino, paja, pigmento negro / Pine, straw, black pigment
Colección de / Collection of Félix y Louise López
 
 
Krissa M. López-Moya
Santa Inés / St. Agnes
2002
Témpera de huevo / Egg tempera
Colección de / Collection of George and Felicia Rivera
 
 
Joseph López
Monja Coronada / Crowned Nun
2000
Pasta de caña, Madera, yeso, pigmento, hoja de oro /
Cane paste, wood, gesso, paint, gold leaf
Donación de / Gift of Balbino y Flora Fernández
MOSCA 2000.66
 
Hispanic Heritage Award for In-Depth Research
2000 Spanish Market.

Images

 

(above: Félix López, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe / Our Lady of Guadalupe, Principios de los 1990's, Early 1990's, Alamillo, pigmentos naturales, paja aplicada/Aspen, natural pigments, straw. Regalo de / Gift of Nancy Reynolds. MOSCA 1999.039)

 

(above: Félix López, Nuestra Se//ñora de Dolores / Our Lady of Sorrows, 1996, Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales, trementina de piñón/Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap varnish. Colección de / Collection of Judith Espinar)

 

(above: Félix López, La Virgen María y el Ni//ño Jesús/ The Virgin Mary and Christ Child, 2005, Alamillo, pino, yeso hecho a mano, pigmentos naturales, trementina de piñón/Aspen, pine, homemade gesso, natural pigments, piñon sap barnish. Colección Particular/ Private Collection)


(above: Joseph López, Monja Coronada / Crowned Nun, 2000, Pasta de caña, Madera, yeso, pigmento, hoja de oro / Cane paste, wood, gesso, paint, gold leaf, Donación de / Gift of Balbino y Flora Fernández. MOSCA 2000.66. Hispanic Heritage Award for In-Depth Research, 2000 Spanish Market.)

 

Acknowledgements

The Felix Lopez, Santero exhibit sponsors are William and Sam Field and Eliza Lovett Randall. The Director and Exhibit Designer is William Field, Curator is Robin Farwell Gavin and Assistant Curator is Alessa Greenway Palacio.

 

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About the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

The first U.S. institution devoted to the first truly global culture, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art opened to the public on Sunday, July 21, 2002. This new institution inaugurated its 12,000 square foot facility in Santa Fe with an exhibition titled Conexiones: Connections in Spanish Colonial Art, featuring works drawn entirely from its outstanding permanent collections.

The Museum's holdings come to it from its founding institution, Santa Fe's Spanish Colonial Arts Society. Objects in these renowned collections document the world-encompassing range and variety of this culture, as it spread from Europe to the Americas and onward to the Philippines. The collections also celebrate this art as a living tradition, with roots in the late Middle Ages and branches in the work of today's artists.

Located on a hilltop overlooking Santa Fe, the Museum stands adjacent to the popular Museum of New Mexico complex (the Museum of International Folk Art, the Laboratory of Anthropology and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture) and is within walking distance of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

"Our mission is to bring deserved recognition and greater understanding to Spanish colonial art," states Stuart Ashman, former Executive Director. "Looking outward from New Mexico-the northernmost reach of Spain's empire-we view the entire range of this culture, as it has transformed local traditions throughout the world and been transformed in its turn."

"Between 1519, when its forces entered Mexico, and 1565, when it wrested control of the Philippines, Spain achieved an empire that truly spanned the world," notes Donna L. Pierce, former Chief Curator of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. "Wherever they went, the Spaniards transplanted their religion, language, art and architecture, along with crops, livestock and tools of daily life. The result was the first global culture: unified through trade routes that stretched from Manila to Madrid, enlivened by influences from every country in its domain. Conexiones uses the broad reach of our collections to trace some of the human interactions that have run through this culture: from the late Middle Ages to the present day, from Spain to Asia, from New Mexico to the tip of South America."

 

The Setting

The Museum building is itself an important expression of this living tradition, having been designed as a residence in 1930 by John Gaw Meem, a leading figure in the development of New Mexico's Spanish Colonial/Pueblo Revival architecture. Built with a multitude of handmade, historically accurate appointments, which range from the ironwork on the doors to the carved decorations on the ceiling beams, the house is the only Meem building in Santa Fe that retains its original integrity.

Donated anonymously in 1998 to the Spanish Colonial Arts Society for use as the Museum's home, the building has been renovated and expanded through a $7 million capital campaign to create 3,400 square feet of exhibition space, 6,400 square feet of collections space and a range of education facilities and visitor amenities. Architects for the renovation and expansion are the firm of Architectural Alliance, headed by Eric Enfield with project architect Martin Kuziel.

 

The Collections

The 3,000 objects in the Museum's collections include devotional and decorative works and utilitarian artifacts, representing an artistic heritage of five centuries and four continents. Among the countries whose influences are reflected in the collections are Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Also included as expressions in colonial art are works from the Caribbean, the Philippines and Goa. Objects from France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Morocco, China and Tibet also play roles in the collections, serving as points of comparison for Spanish colonial art throughout the Americas.

According to Donna Pierce, "The collections are unique in four ways: their global range, their representation of daily life in the colonial world, their historic importance as a repository of key research objects and their incorporation of works by modern-day Hispano artists of New Mexico." Having been stored since 1953 at the Museum of International Folk Art, under the conscientious stewardship of that institution's staff, the collections now claim their own home in the new Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.

The collections are rich in retablos (religious paintings on wood) and bultos (free-standing religious sculptures). Important works in this tradition include an image of San Rafael from 1780 that is the only dated retablo by Captain Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, the first known Spanish artist in New Mexico. Another such key work is the only colonial New Mexican retablo that bears an artist's full signature: a painting of San Cayetano, signed "Aragon Jose Rafel" (sic) in large block letters.

Other important retablos and bultos in the collections are a spectacular gilt sculpture of St. Michael Archangel with billowing robes, made in the late Baroque estofado style by an anonymous artist (Mexico, late 18th century); bultos from the 19th century by artists such as José Benito Ortega (Virgin) and Santo Niño Santero and his followers (St. Raphael), whose work summed up the tradition that New Mexico had inherited from Spain and transformed into its own; and contemporary works such as Cristo Resucitado (Risen Christ) by Luis Tapia (1993).

Major holdings of furniture include an elaborate missal stand of hardwoods, tortoiseshell, bone, ebony and silver wire, made in the late 17th or early 18th century in Puebla, Mexico, a city well known for marquetry furniture and objects. A late 18th-century pine chest is notable not only for representing the six-board dovetail construction that was common in Spain and its colonies, but also for bearing traces of pigment, which prove (contrary to former assumptions) that furniture in colonial New Mexico was painted in bright colors.

Tracing the route of fine metalwork to New Mexico, the collections include objects such as a silver filigree platter (18th-19th century, Colombia or Peru) and a filigree necklace in gold and glass (19th century, New Mexico), both representative of a merging of Spanish and New World jewelry traditions. Showing how colonial artists adapted their traditions to humbler materials, the collections also feature works such as an elaborately worked tinplate frame with a lithograph of the Immaculate Conception, made by the Rio Abajo tinsmith (ca. 1875-1900), and remarkable objects in which straw appliqué imitates the appearance of the woods, ivory and shell used in expensive marquetry.

The Museum possesses an important collection of textiles, ranging from tapestries such as a richly decorated Rio Grande saltillo blanket (New Mexico, ca. 1870) to embroidered silk shawls imported to the Spanish colonies from China and the Philippines. Utilitarian objects include hand tools, weapons, spurs, cattle brands, candlesticks, tobacco flasks and strike-a-lights. Among the precious objects in the collections are crucifixes and rosaries, rings, earrings, fans and hair combs-including contemporary works such as a hair comb in silver, mother of pearl and oil paint by Lawrence Baca and Arlene Cisneros Sena (1999).

Among the most recent acquisitions, and no doubt the largest, is an entire wooden colonial house, built in Mexico ca. 1780. Donated by the Denver Art Museum (where Donna Pierce serves as Curator of Spanish Colonial Art), the house stands near the front entrance to the Museum, providing a dramatic contrast with John Gaw Meem's later interpretation of the architecture of Spain's northernmost colony.

 

The Exhibition

To bring these objects to life for the visitor, the Museum has organized the exhibition Conexiones: Connections in Spanish Colonial Art, featuring some 500 of the finest works in the collections. The exhibition has been created by curator Donna Pierce, writer Carmella Padilla, installation designer William Field and David Rasch, Conservator and Collections Manager of the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.

Stepping into the Museum through a foyer, known as the Dr. Harry P. Mera and Frank Mera Entry, the visitor immediately gets a panoramic view of the collections. To the left, in a salon that has been remade into the Alan and Ann Vedder Gallery, is an installation titled Un Mundo del Arte (A World of Art), bringing together works from the greater Spanish colonial world: retablos, bultos, furniture, textiles, metalwork and other objects. In the salon on the right, now the E. Boyd Gallery, is the installation Obras Grandes (Great Works), featuring objects made in New Mexico, as well as a selection of comparative pieces from other areas.

Straight ahead from the Mera Entry are the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Austin-Applegate Gallery, which open onto the Museum's main courtyard, the Anita Gonzales Thomas Garden. Installed in this patio gallery is Hecho con Fuego (Made with Fire), showcasing utilitarian objects of ironwork, tinwork and micaceous pottery from a variety of locales.

Turning left through Hecho con Fuego, the visitor will find the Museum's Curtin-Paloheimo Gift Shop, installed in the building's former kitchen. Turning right through Hecho con Fuego, the visitor may proceed to the former library of the Meem house, now the Cornelia Thompson Gallery. Here the installation Tesoros (Treasures) features precious personal objects from around the world: strike-a-lights, hair combs, jewelry, religious medallions, reliquaries and more.

The next installation, La Casa Delgado (The Delgado Home), is a period room, based on the 1815 will and estate inventory of Captain Manuel Delgado, who lived on San Francisco Street in Santa Fe and whose descendant and gallery namesake, Concha Ortiz y Pino de Kleven, has been a longtime member of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. Furnished to replicate the sala, or living room, of a colonial New Mexican home, La Casa Delgado includes furniture, textiles, religious images, tools, utensils, clothing, books and personal items similar to those listed in Delgado's inventory. The comfortable juxtaposition of objects from Hispano and Native American sources, intermixed with imports from Europe and Asia, demonstrates that the so-called Santa Fe Style is not an invention of the 20th century but rather is derived from the material culture of the colonial period.

Located just off La Casa Delgado is the Nina Otero Warren Gallery, featuring El Futuro (The Future), a changing exhibition of objects by today's youths who are working in the Spanish colonial tradition. This gallery also serves as the Children's Activity Center and Costume Nicho, under the direction of Curator of Education Patricia Price. Continuing along the path, the visitor next comes to the Norma Fiske Day Gallery, which is installed with a changing exhibition of Obras Nuevas (New Works): recent acquisitions to the Museum's collections.

Temporary exhibitions organized around themes in Spanish colonial art will be seen in Cambios (Changes), installed in the Lois Field Gallery. The initial exhibition, titled San Isidro Labrador: Santo de la Tierra (St. Isidore the Farmer: Saint of the Land) salutes the beloved patron saint of farmers, who is popular throughout the Spanish colonial world. The exhibition includes images of the saint dating from the 17th century to the present, such as a 19th-century bulto by an anonymous artist from the Mesilla Valley.

The exhibition concludes with an installation in the Ina Sizer Cassidy Gallery titled Visiones (Visions), dedicated to the work of contemporary Hispano artists of New Mexico. The bultos, retablos, furniture, textiles, tinwork, straw appliqué and silverwork seen here connect the art of the colonial past to the art of today, while testifying to the creative inspiration of individual artists and their collective vision for the future.

 

Stockman Collections Center

To realize its potential as one of the world's primary resources for research and education in Spanish colonial art, the Museum has created the Stockman Collections Center: a major facility built as a new wing to the Meem house.

Housing 2,500 objects from the collections and a 1,000-volume library, as well as a conservation laboratory, a conference room and collections-management offices, the Stockman Collections Center will serve staff, scholars and museum visitors alike. Docent-led tours will give the public access to the full wealth of the Museum's study collections. Contemporary artists, who have long sought inspiration in these collections, will now enjoy instant access to images and objects through the Collections Center's library.

The Museum is located at 750 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87502. For hours and admission fees please see the Museum's website.

 

Resource Library Editor's note:

Readers may also enjoy photos of Spanish Market in Santa Fe, 2013.


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