Chat with the artists

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Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 1:29 pm | Updated: 1:32 pm, Mon Jul 14, 2014.

When shopping at Spanish Market, take the time to talk with artists about their pieces. You’ll learn so much about traditional Spanish colonial arts, as well the dedication that goes into the work. Here’s an introduction to a few of the artists at this year’s market. 


James M. Córdova

Years in market: 25

Category: Retablos, bultos, altar screens

Home: Originally from Santa Fe. Now lives in Boulder, Colorado. 

Signature pieces: “I’m told that the expressions of my pieces are soulful. I’m also told that the colors that I use are particularly vibrant.”

How I learned: “A lot of it has been trial and error. … Ruben Montoya was the first one to take me into his workshop to show me how to carve.” Ramón José López and Charles M. Carrillo also provided mentorship.

Greatest inspiration: “My artwork connects me with my history, with my family, with New Mexico, with my culture, with my religion. I see the saints I make as sort of the larger family that I belong to, and as I produce this work, it makes me an active member of my family.”

What I love about market: “I love engaging in the extended family. All these artists … we’re peers, we’re brothers and sisters. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It energizes me.”

The role of mentoring: “Over the years you learn from seeing what other people are doing and you get ideas from them. Sometimes they tell you and sometimes they don’t, sometimes it’s visible and sometimes it’s not. It’s a very organic … way of informal learning.”


Rosina López de Short

Years in market: 26

Category: Retablos, relief carving

Home: Originally from Santa Fe. Now lives in Del Rio, Texas.

Signature pieces: “I base my work on the original santeros, and then I give it a little bit more flair. My faces are prettier, and my colors are more contemporary, brighter.” 

How I learned: “I started doing research on my own and introduced this to my students in my art classes [in Pojoaque] because I felt that the Spanish kids needed to know their heritage.”

Greatest inspiration: “My greatest inspiration would probably be the feeling I have for the Mother,” also known locally as La Conquistadora, Our Lady of Guadalupe and “La Virgencita,” the Mexican term of endearment for Guadalupe.

What I love about market: “I love the beauty of it and the fact that I get to see my old friends, my old students from way back. … It’s just a very special thing.”

The role of mentoring: “I did mentor so many kids. … It was really a meaningful thing for me to share. And for me, I was learning right along with them.”


Nina Arroyo Wood

Years in market: 12

Category: Colcha embroidery

Home: Santa Fe

Signature pieces: Arroyo Wood emulates 18th-century techniques she learned by studying a colcha embroidery blanket from that period, including a distinctive stitch and very thin yarn. She weaves her own sabanilla (background cloth).

How I learned: After seeing a colcha demonstration, “I came home right away and got some thread and just started doing it, to try my hand at it. And then I completed it when I took a class from Monica Sosaya Halford.”

Greatest inspiration: “Everything in nature really inspires me: my garden, watching the hummingbirds come by, my cats. … I like to look at all sorts of shapes and pictures, Chinese art.” 

What I love about market: “I like demonstrating my spinning skills so that it may fascinate some younger people.”

The role of mentoring: “Monica mentored me. She taught me to do the colcha and then encouraged me, ‘You should go hang out at the ranch [El Rancho de las Golondrinas], and you should try market.’ I mentored my daughter-in-law, and she learned to spin.” 


Susie G. Garcia

Years in market: 8

Category: Weaving

Home: Santa Fe

Signature pieces: Rio Grande-style weaving. “I’m more traditional than most of the weavers.” 

How I learned: “I learned in Chimayó about 28 years ago from master weaver John Trujillo.”

Greatest inspiration: “John Trujillo is my inspiration. Learning from a master weaver … it’s hard to follow in his footsteps.” The weaving itself inspires Garcia. “You start a design with one idea in mind, then it turns into something else. As I weave, I create.”

What I love about market: “I think it’s meeting the people. Every year you see different people. One year something won’t sell, then the next year it does, because everyone has different tastes. And I get to meet people from all over and from different cultures.”

The role of mentoring: “Of course, John Trujillo. I’ve also been a mentor to my own daughters. All three weave. And I’ve taught my grandsons. … I hope my daughters carry it on when I’m gone. They do like it. It’s just that the younger generation would rather be in an office working on computers.”

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Today’s New Mexican, July 24, 2014

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