Los Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes
Blessing of the Waters August 4, Rio Gallinas
Gallery 140, 140 Bridge Street
Tuesday through Saturday
…..1-4 pm or by appointment, call 505-425-1085
Eighteen members of Los Artesanos Hispanos de Las Vegas Grandes will exhibit a sampling of their work in a Folk Art Mercado at Las Vegas Arts Council’s Gallery 140 at 140 Bridge Street, as a part of the Heritage Week festivities though the month of August. There will be devotional and decorative pieces, paintings, carvings, ceramics, sculpture, and more.
Los Artesanos Hispanos formed as a grassroots effort to define and showcase the diverse artistic talents of the local Hispanic community. They began with the understanding that anyone in the Hispanic community who has artistic talents and is willing to share that talent with the community deserves the opportunity to be recognized. Their mission is to promote opportunities for locals and visitors to experience artistic and cultural events and activities, which in turn preserves the Hispanic culture. Los Artesanos Hispanos always share leadership and responsibility; they collaborate as equals. And they dream of “una escuelita” where their knowledge and skills can be passed on to their sons and daughters and grandchildren.
Based on the traditions of generations of families, neighbors, and friends, these artists originally came together during a series of classes taught by a local New Mexico folk artist. One of those students was a young man, Adrian Montoya. In his own words…
I have always been interested in the lives of the Saints. Going to church and seeing the saints embedded in the stained glass windows and hanging on the walls of the churches always piqued my interest. I took a class with Cruz
Flores at Luna Community College in 2001. Cruz taught me the history of retablos and what goes into making them.
I visited another local artist, Margarito Mondragón. He encouraged me to apply for art shows and helped my painting skills.
I currently participate in the Sacred Heart Spanish Market in Gallup, NM, the Traditional Spanish Market in Santa Fe, NM, the NM State Fair, Casa San Isidro Harvest Festival in Corrales, NM, and the San Felipe Santero Market in Albuquerque, NM.
Awards I have won include Honorable Mention at NM State Fair in 2011 and 2013, 3rd Place at NM State Fair in 2017 , and 3rd Place at the Santero Market in 2017.
Their first formal event took place in 2009 with an art exhibit that included a 300-year old pre-event ceremony, the Blessing of the Waters. This ceremony brings together several religious orders from local Catholic churches with a procession that meets at the middle of the Gallinas River Bridge which unites Old Town and New Town. The Penitente Brotherhood sings the Alabados, songs from the Middle Ages relating to the Passion of Christ. The event repeated this year, on August 4, 2018 at 9:30 am at the Bridge. A Pecos-based couple, Circulo Solar Ollin Xochipilli, will dance an ancient Aztec blessing of the waters to complete the traditional ceremony.
Immediately following, Los Artesanos Hispanos invited the community to an Artists Reception at Gallery 140 to see their work and talk about the value of the heritage arts in the community. Music was provided by local favorites Mike Romero, Leroy (Pato) Lucero, and Steve Leger. The exhibit will continue through August, and the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 1 – 4 pm or by appointment. There will be extended hours during Heritage Week, so if the flag is flying, the door will be open.
The complete list of participating artists
June V. Lopez
Vera Jo Luján
José (Curly) Chávez
Guadalupe (ArraZolo) Garcia
Vera Jo Luján
Vera Jo’s passion for art first became evident with her bulletin board displays at an elementary school where she was employed. Her creations of different seasons and joyful occasions soon earned the respect and admiration of her students and colleagues alike. Her work and assistance throughout the school district was thereafter in demand.
Vera Jo describes herself as mostly “self-taught,” although she did enroll in art classes while attending NMHU. She also attended art seminars and workshops several times each year. “There is so much to learn, every time you pick up a brush it’s always a different experience and a form of relaxation.” She is first to critique her own work, however she has nothing but praise and high regard for traditional, cultural, and contemporary artists, especially those within the Southwest Region.
Known, Found, Saved
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 pieces, 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 were 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 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 participated in the Traditional Spanish Market for many 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 eighteen 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.