Miracles made from humble stuff
Family, friends, tradition, a feeling of intimacy, and a general celebration of art making are all part of Winter Spanish Market, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Featured works include santos, furniture, hide paintings, straw appliqué, hand-woven textiles, colcha, metalwork, bone work, and pottery. This year, 93 artists are represented under one roof.
“Spanish Market is a large part of my life,” said Santa Fe artist Diana Moya-Lujan, who has been an exhibitor for 14 years. “I have made so many friends with my fellow artists, collectors, individuals who love Spanish art, and my children, whom I have taught.”
Along with her daughter Lenise Lujan-Martinez, Moya-Lujan has mastered the art of straw appliqué, and the two are sharing a booth. Occasionally, they collaborate on a single piece. “To work with Lenise is a blessing,” Moya-Lujan said. “We can critique each other’s work, experiment with various designs and colors of straw, and have an end result that we are both proud of.
“[Lenise] has the ability to create flowers, which she wraps around a cross or other surface. And in her dainty work, she can cut a piece of straw that is as thin as a hair, which will then become a vine. ... It amazes me that she does this with straw. This year for winter market, I have created a series of churches and images of santos which are ½ by ½ inches.” In creating their work, both mother and daughter adhere to traditional materials and techniques, and both are scheduled to demonstrate their methods at the event.
This year is the market’s 21st. “Winter Spanish Market was started in response to [summer] Spanish Market’s success and the artists’ desire for another sales venue,” said Bud Redding, director of Spanish Market for more than 20 years. “In fact, the first year we collaborated with SWAIA [the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts] and held Indian and SpanishWinter Market in several downtown hotels and at the Sweeney Center [the former convention center]. It was a movable feast of sorts.”
Spanish Market is sponsored by the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and originated in 1926 as the Spanish Colonial Arts and Crafts Exhibition. That first year, it was held in conjunction with Indian Market and Fiesta at the Museum of Fine Arts [now the New Mexico Museum of Art] onWest Palace Avenue, Redding said. The following year it moved to the portal at the Palace of the Governors, where “the event flourished until the mid-1930s and was held sporadically until it was revived as an annual event in 1965.”
Redding views the smaller winter version as a special event. “[Winter] Market is about community and family and faith as much as it’s a celebration of traditional art,” he said. “I think it’s also about the interaction between artists and visitors and the relationships that emerge.” Retablo artists Catherine Robles Shaw and her daughter Roxanne Shaw-Galindo also plan to share a booth. Shaw has been associated with summer and winter
markets since 1995 and has been a full-time santera since 1996. “We knew [santos] were in our family history in southern Colorado,” she said via e-mail from her studio near Boulder. “I was also encouraged by my father-in-law, who had a nice retablo collection.”
Shaw said her biggest challenges are finding the right board and visualizing the image within the wood. Each piece takes her approximately eight hours to complete, and that includes applying four coats of handmade gesso as a base for her personal blends of watercolor. Like Moya-Lujan, Shaw mentored her daughter, but Shaw was taught by a variety of santeros, including Victor Goler, Charles Carrillo, and her cousin Rubel Jaramillo. In terms of the significance of Spanish Market to her career, Shaw simply called it “a milestone.”
Santa Fean and self-taught santero Carrillo, one of Shaw’s teachers, is no stranger to Spanish Market. He has participated since 1978 and has exhibited in Winter Spanish Market since its inception. During an interview at his studio, he estimated that he has, in one way or another, tutored nearly half of the santeros currently associated with Spanish Market.
At this year’s show, Carrillo plans to exhibit not only his signature pickup trucks but also a group of traditional retablos and a new series of Mimbresstyled santos painted in stark black and white. “Some of my Mimbres-inspired pieces will shock a few people, because my approach to iconography is so non-European— but so very New Mexican— and not Spanish colonial,” he said. “I’ve taken Mimbres figurative imagery and morphed them into traditional New Mexican saints.”
Carrillo described his process for San Raphael Archangel: “San Raphael is a warrior figure I took from a Mimbres pot, to which I added wings based on another Mimbres design, then added a fish from yet another Mimbres pot. So the image is a combination of three different traditional designs put together in a new way.” He occupies a booth this year with his daughter Estrella Carrillo, who creates miniature
retablos and, according to her father, is doing ramilletes— decorative floral garlands made by cutting folded paper. Apart from manning his booth, Carrillo is scheduled to sign copies of the just-published book Shoes for the Santo Niño by writer and poet Peggy Pond Church (1903-1986). Carrillo did the illustrations for the book— his first ever for a children’s book.
A relative newcomer to Spanish Market is designer and tinsmith Kevin Burgess de Chavez who, with Drew Coduti, runs BC Designs in Albuquerque. Their commissioned work includes chandeliers for the fine arts building at the state fairgrounds as well as lighting concepts for Scholes Hall at The University of New Mexico.
Born in Albuquerque, Burgess de Chavez has exhibited at Spanish Market since 2005. “I’ve been working with tin for the past 12 years. Prior to that I had been working with found objects. When I started using only tin, I wasn’t aware of anyone giving classes or willing to share knowledge,” he said. “Drew and I did research and found out that tinsmiths made their own tools. We then started making our own tools, collected others, and— through trial, error, and observation — developed our individual styles.”
In 2008, Burgess de Chavez applied straw appliqué methods to his tinwork and won the Boeckman Award for New Directions at Spanish Market. “It was great to be acknowledged for trying something new,” he said. “I was concerned that the straw appliqué artists might be upset that I used their technique using metal instead of straw, but they were very supportive and happy for me.”
Burgess de Chavez also creates retablos, makes paper, sews, and knits while maintaining his interest in stained glass. His ancestry is as diverse as his art-making skills. “Although predominantly Hispanic, I am also Apache, Scot/Irish, French Creole, and Sephardic Jew, and I feel all these heritages influence my artwork,” he said.
Carrillo sums up perfectly whatWinter Spanish Market means to so many of his fellow artists, as well as to the city. “Winter market is truly about Santa Fe and Santa Feans,” he said. “It’s really not about revenue but about traditions. It’s more a family affair, it’s quieter than summer market, and there is a feeling of closeness among the artists.”
Diana Moya-Lujan: Tryptic of the Nativity and the Three Kings, straw appliqué, pine, wheat straw, native grasses, and dyed straw, 6.75 x 9 x 3 inches
Kevin Burgess de Chavez: tin, 16 x 10 inches
Moroccan Lamp, 2007,
Charles Carrillo: Holy Family, Three Kings, and Two Shepherds, 2009, lamp black and homemade gesso on panel, 14 x 25 inches