Gallery 140 was transformed! In November, the gallery was a Folk Art Mercado, welcoming artists from Los Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes and welcoming local art lovers to admire, and shop for this traditional devotional art.
Los Artesanos are more than a casual alliance of artists who share an interest. They are serious about preserving their heritage and passing the torch, along with their skills and talents, to future generations. One of the artesanos, Cruz Flores notes, “Las Vegas has been quite fortunate in the sense that either by choice or circumstances the community has been able to preserve most of our historical buildings that are located throughout. The same great efforts being demonstrated to restore and protect these century-old buildings should also be directed toward the traditional and folk art that once was firmly rooted in our surrounding communities, giving that art a new lease on life.” Mr. Flores continues, “Los Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes began as a grass roots effort to define and showcase the diverse artistic talents of the local Hispanic art community. It began with the understanding that anyone in the Hispanic community who has artistic talents and are willing to share their talents with the community deserves an opportunity to be recognized, and encouraged.
The mission of the Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes is to promote ‘El Arte de La Gente’ which can only flourish in communities long settled and well established in village art. The theme for this folk art show will be ‘Spanish Market Quality Art.'”
Fourteen artesanos will be exhibiting at the show, ranging in age from 7 to 70. Many have participated in the traditional and contemporary Spanish Markets in Santa Fe and many are award winners.
The Las Vegas Arts Council, charged by the City of Las Vegas to be their liaison with the arts, culture, and the humanities of the community is sponsoring this particular show that has been organized and displayed by Los Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes. According to Susie Tsyitee, Executive Director of the Arts Council, “If the arts are the soul of the community, then these traditional artists are the heart, keeping life and strength flowing. Our musicians, artists, and storytellers keep the history alive and will lead us into a beautiful and creative future.”
The artist “Arrazolo,” known locally as Guadalupe Garcia, or Lupe, was born and raised in Northern New Mexico. He uses, as the foundation of his current art piece, natural objects found locally, typically wood or stone, or both. Sometimes a particular piece of wood or rock will compel his attention, or “curia,” and he will immediately see the image; other times he is simply attracted by the shape of the piece, and the idea of what it will later become.
Once the artist knows what the piece will represent, he enhances the natural state of the wood or the rock, adding shape or dimension to the inherent image so as to make it more apparent to the viewer, and then air brushing in the color.
The artist feels the natural state of the materials used in his art preordain the result; he only assists in bringing out the indwelling image. Important to this process is that all the separate parts to be used in the finished piece be in harmony or synergy with each other in the beginning.
The artist’s purpose is not to compel the viewer to see his pieces in a certain way, but rather to share a reality or perception founded in nature.
Two of the pieces shown in the 2016 Mercado are paper maché, with delicately painted features, one especially representing Arrazolo’s great interest in eschatology. A man of many talents, he is a long-time local barber, often cast in movies shot locally, and he also finds time for stonework restoration (pictured.)
BRENDA FLORES –
Brenda Flores’ caricature carvings look like they reflect a lifetime of experience, and even though Brenda had been around family art all her life, she never done any carving or painting. In 2010 Brenda suffered a hand injury and had to have physical therapy, so she picked up an exacto knife and started carving and hasn’t stopped since. She says. “I always liked handling strange-shaped pieces of wood, except now I remove some of the wood to expose a Santa Claus or a santito (little Saint).” Brenda has been showing her art for the past 4 years at the Contemporary Hispanic Market.
CRUZ FLORES –
Traditional folk artist, Cruz Flores, was raised in a deeply traditional family environment where art was part of daily family activities. When Cruz and Antonia established a family of their own, art was always central. Their activities were quite interactive, involving going out to the mountains and exploring for different types of wood such as drift wood and cottonwood tree roots. The family could be found digging for different colors of clay that were used for painting and picking crystallized pinon sap for home-made varnish. The varnish creates a golden glow on the work that lends vibrancy and depth to every piece.
Cruz used the same parenting philosophy as his father, role-modeling for his children. Those who chose to do the art were encouraged and those who didn’t were encouraged to pursue what they loved to do. Both Cruz and Antonia raised their children to value art and especially the tradition of Hispanic Folk Art. Cruz has participated in the Traditional Spanish Market for 14 years.
GERALDINE FLORES DE SILVA –
My name is Geraldine Silva. I was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1970, and I am the youngest of 3 girls. My grandfather taught me how to draw, paint, and cemented my feet in the Traditional Hispanic Folk Art.
As I got older, my father who himself is a Santero, polished my talent as a Santera. The lessons I received and honor from both my grandfather and my father is that I should always emphasize that culture and tradition should never be forgotten, and the gift should be passed on.
I know that artistic experiences have helped me learn and improve my communication skills by expressing my feelings, thoughts, words, and experiences. I grew up very quiet and shy. This is an area of tremendous growth for me. During the past twenty years I have acquired extensive knowledge of the many facets of Spanish Traditional Arts. In addition I have been active for sixteen years as an Artist in the Traditional Spanish Market and for many years I have used my experiences as an artist to provide prevention through the arts programs to families and youths. The following are programs that I work with—Noches de Familia Prevention Program, West Las Vegas School District Prevention through the arts program, Bernalillo School Districts Summer Academy, and currently working with the Immaculate Conception Church Foster Care Arts Program.
My communication and presentation skills have served me well during my interactions with Spanish market patrons. I have cherished every opportunity available to keep myself well informed with accurate and current facts in both attributes and traditions having to do with my art.
GENE GURULÉ –
I am a native New Mexican. My tinwork is traditional in nature, which earned me a place in the Santa Fe Spanish Market annually in July. My use of precious stones makes my tin work contemporary, with a touch of the traditional.
I manufacture my own punches which I use in my tin work designs . Many unique features can be found inserted in my tin work pieces from abstract forms to watercolor paintings. My tin work pieces include: mirrors, sconces, frames, lampshades, tea lights, crosses, candle sculptures, shelves and Christmas ornaments.
I am also noted for my painting, photography and tin work. My photography is generally comprised of Northern New Mexico scenes. I love the colors and textures that are unique to New Mexico and my photography captures the past and uniqueness of the area.
I take special orders upon request.
For more about Mr. Gurulé, visit his website here.