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Streamlined Spanish Market

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Victor Goler’s “Santa Abigail” Bulto; carved wood, gesso, watercolor and beeswax. (Courtesy of Blue Rain Gallery)

With the pandemic shuttering all the major Santa Fe summer markets, Blue Rain Gallery is stepping in for devotional art.

The 27-year-old showplace is offering a streamlined Spanish Market through Aug. 8 at 544 S. Guadalupe St. and at

Executive Director Denise Phetteplace has gathered works by eight artists with the help of famed Taos santero Victor Goler. The roster includes Alcario Otero, Lorrie Garcia, Marie Romero Cash, Jean Anaya Moya, Nicolás Otero, Frankie Lucero and José A. Lucero, as well as Goler. Each boasts a long history of exhibiting at Spanish Market.

Los Lunas santero Alcario Otero created a series of bultos (carvings) and retablos (paintings) dedicated to Santo Niño de Atocha, Mary the Good Shepherdess and San José con Niño Jesus.

“His work is just so lovely and so beautifully executed,” Phetteplace said. “You can tell he’s been doing this his entire life.”

His Santo Niño features the saint holding a traditional staff and drinking gourd, as well as a bread basket. The figure wears a cape with a shell, symbolic of the pilgrimage to St. James.

Santa Fe native Marie Romero Cash, known for spicing her work with humor, alphabetized 28 saints.

“It’s a wonderful little shrine or altar piece,” Phettplace said. “It’s very simple and sweet. There’s more of a folk art quality to this piece.”

Galisteo artist Jean Anaya Moya’s “En el Rio” is a relief carving on bass wood with gesso, natural mineral pigment, piñon sap varnish and wax buffing. Moya also is an award-winning straw appliqué artist

The winged fisherman dangles a trout in one hand and his fishing pole in another. Cattails ascend the frame.

“I love the northern New Mexico setting,” Phetteplace said.

The multitalented Moya also created a streamlined treasure box with geometric straw appliqué. In this piece, she combines old materials with new. She uses soft pine, hand-carved designs, homemade gesso, wheat straw, corn husk and some natural pigments. Then she adds such modern materials as acrylic black paint, commercial glues and varnish.

“It’s a beautiful little storage box,” Phetteplace said, “with every little detail attended to. It’s very regal looking.”

Often referred to as the Picasso santero, the paintings of José Lucero dance across boundaries between traditional devotional art and outsider sensibilities. His work is part of the City of Santa Fe Art In Public Places Program.

Goler carved a St. Abigail, the patron queen of bee keepers.

Goler was raised in Santa Fe among a family of Latin American art conservators and restorers. He spent his early years apprenticing in the family conservation studios, where he was taught to carve. This is where his interest in saints developed. Later, he studied at the University of New Mexico, and earned a degree in graphics and advertising design from the Colorado Institute of Art.

In 1986, Goler returned to Santa Fe to open a conservation and restoration studio, specializing in the repair of religious carvings from around the world, and became specifically involved with working with New Mexico santos. Goler’s work can be seen in the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, the Harwood Museum in Taos and in Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art, as well as in churches across the country.

“The markets were cancelled this summer,” Phetteplace said “They provide the livelihood for these artists for the rest of the year. We wanted to give them an opportunity to have a show.”

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