Treasures of San Francisco de Asis

Exhibition reveals many intriguing works displayed in the Ranchos church parish hall

Opinion by Enrico Velasquez
Posted 5/22/19

Opinion by Enrico VelasquezThe San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos is the embodiment of Spanish Colonial architectural design and beauty by its creator, Fray Jose Benito …

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Treasures of San Francisco de Asis

Exhibition reveals many intriguing works displayed in the Ranchos church parish hall

Posted

The San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos is the embodiment of Spanish Colonial architectural design and beauty by its creator, Fray Jose Benito Pereyro.

Spanish Colonial art in the form of 19th-century reredos by Antonio Molleno and bultos by Jose Rafael Aragón have adorned the interior décor of our church since its creation. In recognition of our accomplished Spanish Colonial artists' outstanding works of art and their dedication to maintaining culture and tradition, Pastor Dino Candelaria is sponsoring his second Spanish Colonial Art Exhibition with curator and parish archivist, Guadalupe Tafoya.

Tafoya is a former curator at the Millicent Rogers Museum and has given visitors to the exhibit a pleasant viewing experience by the way the art is displayed along each wall.

The exhibit is open to the public Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through July 1.

This exceptional Spanish Colonial Art exhibit contains 64 works by 27 artists. We are privileged to have on display art pieces by internationally recognized artists such as Leo Salazar, Lydia Garcia and Juanita Lavadie. This exhibition is special because all the artists who contributed pieces for display have in-depth knowledge of New Mexico Spanish Colonial art and are highly skilled artisans. Their works of art come from their faith, creativity and the examples left by New Mexico's Spanish Colonial artists over hundreds of years.

When I viewed this extraordinary collection of Spanish Colonial art for the first time, I experienced one of those rare "OMG" moments. As I entered the room I immediately became transfixed by the most beautiful and perfect wood sculpture I have ever seen, "Cristo Crucificado," by renowned wood worker and wood sculptor Roberto Lavadie, who is from our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taos.

I was pleasantly surprised at the large number of separate pieces of art, which includes wood carvings, wood sculptures, retablos, small pine boxes, furniture, paintings, weavings with natural dye and colcha stitch with mixed media.

This exhibit has the largest collection of Leo Salazar's wood carvings (seven), ever assembled at one exhibit. Salazar was an internationally renowned wood carver with pieces in the Smithsonian and Millicent Rogers Museum, other famous art museums and private collections. Salazar was greatly influenced by the great Patrociño Barela, as well as by other famous wood carvers from all over New Mexico, such as José Rafael Aragón.

Included in this exhibit are other accomplished wood carvers: Frank Salazar, Ernesto Salazar, Michael Salazar, Luis Barela and Dan Rael. Luis Barela is the grandson of Patrociño Barela with three wood carvings on display - "Love of a Child, Parents with Two Hearts," "San Antonio with Baby Jesus" and "El Casorio - The Wedding Bride and Groom, Father and Familia."

On a small table to the left of Salazar's santos is Johnny Coca's "Carreta de la Muerta - Doña Sebastiana." I learned that La Carrreta de la Muerta is a crude oxcart carrying a seated figure of a skeleton clothed in black with a hood over its head holding a bow and arrow; in New Mexico folklore it is associated with the unpredictability of death. I learned a lot from Johnny Coca's piece and from Guadalupe Tafoya's oral history lesson.

The exhibit has three large retablos by acclaimed artist Lydia Garcia. Each one is reflective of her tremendous accomplishments but most important her work places you on a journey to another place in time and reflection of our faith over centuries in the New Mexico frontier.

Retablos by Roger Trujillo include four of his best works. These are exceptional works of art and I just kept going back to them, amazed at his refined painting ability. Wall hangings -- quilted prints with embellished appliqué -- by Luzita Trujillo are just beautiful to look at, as is the large colcha stitch and mixed-media piece by Maria Reina Candelaria. Weavings by Juanita Lavadie include three of her best works. Finally, the exhibit includes one piece of Spanish Colonial furniture by Felipe Tafoya and three masterpieces by Frank Tollardo, which include a beautiful copper and spruce banco.

This local exhibition gives our artists an opportunity to display their immense talent and creativity. I am proud of their achievements and so happy that 27 artists took the time to contribute to the second San Francisco de Asis exhibition of traditional Spanish Colonial Art.

Parallax is a reader-submitted opinion column. Readers may submit Parallax columns of up to 750 words on Taos arts and entertainment subjects. They may be sent to Tempo editor Rick Romancito at tempo@taosnews.com. No handwritten submissions, please.

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