Santera Marie Romero Cash: Grande dame of Spanish Market
If they were to name an official grande dame of Santa Fe’s Spanish Market, or something close to the term, then santera and author Marie Romero Cash would be right at the top of the prospects. This year marks the 41st consecutive year the 75-year-old award-winning artist has participated in Spanish Market; her debut was in 1975.
And Romero Cash’s lineage to Spanish Market impressively dates back decades before that, as her mother and father, Emilio and Senaida Romero, used to show their tinwork at the event from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The elder Romeros used their talents to feed a renewed public interest in Spanish colonial art that occurred in the late ’50s and ’60s.
In 2011, the market managers created a new category of work called InnovationsWithin Traditions, which encourages artists to expand their creativity while remaining true to most of the original artistic materials, themes and styles. Romero Cash essentially has dominated the Innovations niche since its creation, winning it several times, including last year. Her 2015 winning piece, 100Madonnas, featured scores of carved inches-tall madonnas enclosed in a big case. In addition to many other awards she’s won during her impressive Spanish Market run, Romero Cash was also chosen as the official poster artist in 1982 and 2001. She also has written six books on Spanish-culture themes, three mystery novels and a coloring book.
“It’s a great category; it really fits my work,” Romero Cash says of the InnovationsWithin Traditions division. “Just how many St. Anthonys can you do over a 40-year period? Long before the category was created I was being innovative. It’s a personal thing — I’m in competition with myself!”
The Santa Fe native says she plans to enter two pieces into the Innovations category again this year — companion pieces consisting of paintings on a retablo and a series of carvings. She says she is well prepared for Spanish Market this year and will have at least 40 small and large pieces on view. Over the past several years she had been caring for her ailing sister and brother, who have since died, and this year she had more time to prepare for the event.
“I was able to work every day, sometimes six or seven times a week,” she says. “That’s my job! I like to create big and small pieces, especially for those who can’t afford the big pieces.”