Everything Ed Sandoval touches becomes more vibrant ... more alive ... whether it's a blank canvas, a saddle on the back of a horse or an old truck.
Sandoval can be found painting on a giant easel outside his gallery, Studio de Colores, on Paseo del Pueblo Norte next door to World Cup and around the corner from Taos Plaza nearly every day — so long as the clouds aren't dropping rain or snow.
"Painting every day is like feeding you heart and soul with nourishment," Sandoval told me last fall. "My favorite color is red orange. It raises my level of anxiety and passion. I'm not a reclusive artist. I like the traffic. The noise doesn't bother me. And I have to have music playing. Other artists might say I'm putting myself out there too much. I've coined myself as 'the prostitute artist.'"
The signature image in his work is the "old man with the cane," who came about during the filming of the movie "The Milagro Bean Field War" (1998), from the book by Taos author John Nichols (who also wrote the screenplay). Sandoval was living in Truchas, New Mexico, at the time and some of the film was shot on his property. And some of his horses were used as well. He started to "hang out" with cast members. One of those actors was Carlos Riquelme who played the old man Amarante Cordova. "A light bulb came over my head and I went with it," Sandoval said after meeting Cordova. The old man walking with a cane has been a fixture in his paintings ever since.
His '51 Chevy 3100 faded turquoise pickup is never far away. He's been known to display a painting by propping it up with the truck's hood. The Chevy, he said, "is the most photographed truck in Taos."
Sandoval is as colorful as his bold and textured art. He is known to don a black mask and cape, mount his horse and transform into Zorro while riding around town. He is interested in custom adobe home design and construction. He built his own adobe house and chapel.
Sandoval was selected as the 2017 Taos Fall Arts Festival poster artist for his painting "Colors of Northern New Mexico," which graces this year's Fall Festivals Guide cover. His work has been on the pages of many magazines, on the walls of many homes and offered in numerous charity fundraising events. In 2012, he was bestowed the Governor's Award for Excellence in Art. Sandoval has inspired young artists through his work as a public school art teacher.
His education includes a bachelor of fine arts from Eastern New Mexico University, and a masters in psychology from the University of Utah.
Sandoval was born at the family ranch home in Nambe (New Mexico). He has a twin brother.
"When we were born, I pushed him out first so I could hurry up and check out the landscape," he laughed. "We also had a home in Los Alamos. I am an 'atomic brat.' When I was little we would come to Taos. I played hoops at Los Alamos High School and used to play against the Tigers in Taos. We won state my senior year. We would come to Taos for the Fiesta parade. I remember wanting to ride my horse in it. We always had a blast."
Coming to live in Taos was just a migration. He had work hanging in a Ranchos gallery and he would come up to check on that and then go two-stepping. One day he decided to see if he could make it here. That was more than 25 years ago.
"I love the security of our weather here. I love the spiritualness here," he said. "You can drive across the country and so many towns look the same. Bless our hearts, we've kept the continuity of the architecture. There's only a few places in the world like Taos. I think there's a big crystal under Taos that inspires us."
His inspiration is found in the days-of-old life in New Mexico. His paintings project motion, vividly create a mood and speak in a language that connects the people to the land. Sandoval's depictions of rural Hispanic New Mexican life have cemented him as a favorite Northern New Mexico contemporary, yet classic, artist.
"Painting is like ice skating," he described. "You move and push the ice around until it becomes a dance, and in painting you move and push the paint around until it becomes a dance."