When artists collaborate, they bring their best efforts to the table. Working together in the exciting process of enhancing each other’s expressions, two artists can create a piece that might never be accomplished — or even imagined — by just one individual.
Rodolfo Parga and his grandson, Miguel Strunk, enjoy the collaborative process. Each year they work together on several pieces, including last year’s particularly beautiful painted bulto with straw appliqué, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. They also share a booth and show and sell their own work: Parga carves and paints bultos (three-dimensional figures of Spanish saints), and Strunk works with straw appliqué.
“I think artists should work together more,” said Parga. Strunk agreed, noting that he was five years old when he began observing his grandfather work on a bulto in his Albuquerque home studio.
“I’ve been lucky, because I have artists on both sides of my family. I’m truly blessed,” Strunk said. “Art was something that was always part of my life, and it seemed I should follow it.”
When Strunk, who is 21 and a junior in bioengineering at Montana State University, decided to pursue straw appliqué art and to enter the Youth Market three years ago, he chose award-winning straw appliqué artist Jimmy Trujillo as his mentor. Each youth artist must work under the tutelage of an adult Spanish Market artist, who may or may not be a relative, and who imparts historical and cultural information as well as artistic support.
Strunk won the Creativity Award that year (2011) and was juried as an adult into Spanish Market the following year, 2012. He and his grandfather have worked independently and together since.
Parga was first juried into Spanish Market in 2009 and was immediately awarded the Gloria Roth Teleki Award, for artwork showing exceptional promise by a first-time exhibitor. He also has won awards at the New Mexico State Fair.