Orlando Leyba finds reviving and embellishing older work 'cathartic'

Artist Orlando Leyba finds reviving and embellishing older work ‘cathartic’

“Chimitico,” Orlando Leyba, 2002-2022, oil & mixed media on canvas, 70×68 inches. (Courtesy of the Curated Creative)

Orlando Leyba is reclaiming his Chimayó childhood, the fields he plowed with his grandfather and his trips to the tiny Spanish town that bequeathed him a surname.

The artist’s work is on display in “Reclaimed: Orlando Leyba” at The Curated Creative through Dec. 2.

The Albuquerque Academy art teacher’s abstraction-meets-northern-New Mexico-beauty-and decay style further evolved when he painted over his work, like his hero, the California painter Richard Diebenkorn.

Leyba began his time at the University of New Mexico majoring in architecture, before he surrendered to the inevitable.

“I think I always knew I would be an artist,” he said. “My high school didn’t offer any sort of art program. All I would do was draw on my notebooks night and day.”

He performed his graduate work at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where all his teachers were from New York. The East Coast gave him a much broader experience than he had found at UNM.

“I learned that you can paint with tar,” he said. “I learned that you could use found objects. It opened up many doors for me to explore.

“It was very competitive,” he continued. “If your work was crap, people told you. I tried to take it in stride and not take it personally and learn from it.”

His current show exhibits paintings dating from 1995 to 2022.

“I have reworked and recomposed the older ones,” Leyba said. “They range in themes from dealing with the history of New Mexico land grants to the history of working in Chimayó to contemporary abstraction.”

Their bold lines and angles represent the divisions Leyba has long felt about being Hispanic in an Anglo world.

“I grew up in an Hispanic household but my parents raised me to be one of the regular Anglo kids at my high school. But I’d go to my grandparents’ house and they spoke only Spanish.

“It’s the beauty of the light I see here versus the decay I see in the arroyos. It’s about raising biracial children.”

Bolstered by an avian wingspan,”Chimitico” refers to a Tewa thunderbird found as a motif on many Rio Grande weavings.

“Chimayó was also spelled ‘T’smayo’ in Tewa,” he said.

As beautiful as it looks, that weaving disguised some darker issues.

“Two weeks away from going to high school, my grandmother’s parents said stay home and weave to support the family,” Leyba said. “People tell me Chimayó is so beautiful,” he added. “But if you live there, you know it’s being ravaged by heroin.”

Leyba’s oil and diamond dust on panel “Garcilaso” evolved from his trip to Spain.

“I discovered there’s a town with my last name,” he said. “The red represents the fields of poppies I was driving through to get to this little town. The pink on the bottom is a reflection of the petroglyphs.”

“King Solomon’s Double Wide” originated as a painting by his son Solomon.

“It’s the idea of King Solomon living in a double-wide in New Mexico,” Leyba said. “It’s just my imagination and my attempt at humor.”

“Chimayó Serpent,” Orlando Leyba, 2002-2022, oil and mixed-media on canvas, 70×60 inches. (Courtesy of the Curated Creative)

He enjoys reviving and embellishing his older work.

“First of all, I’m bored with them,” he said. “Doing that is so cathartic. I feel like I have a base, a foundation to start with, but I can pick and choose whether to incorporate a land grant or my history.”

The reclaimed works hang alongside Leyba’s 2022 paintings. Each series interconnects through a familiar landscape of beauty, intertwined with chaos and dysfunction, traditions and contemporary practices, the eroded with the newly formed.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Artist Orlando Leyba finds reviving and embellishing older work ‘cathartic’


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
A look at five items from the National Museum ...
Arts
The National Museum of Nuclear Science ... The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History provides an objective, accessible window into the past, present and future of nuclear science.
2
For Elizabeth Kirk and her father Michael, crafting jewelry ...
Arts
Elizabeth credits growing up watching her ... Elizabeth credits growing up watching her father mold, incise and polish jewelry with jump-starting her own career.
3
Adobe Theater brings the Tony Award-winning musical to stage
Arts
The first few minutes of 'The ... The first few minutes of 'The Drowsy Chaperone' occur in complete darkness, while an anxious but companionable voice drifts from the stage.
4
NMPhil celebrating winter with a series of concerts
Arts
The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing ... The New Mexico Philharmonic is gearing up for its Winter Festival with multiple 'Messiahs,' holiday pops and the 'Carol of the Bells.'
5
Vortex Theatre to bring folk tales, legends and more ...
Arts
The show opens on Friday, Dec. ... The show opens on Friday, Dec. 2, continuing on weekends through Dec. 18.
6
Here's what happening at Bishop's Lodge for the holidays
Arts
Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever ... Santa Fe resort hosts its first-ever holiday market
7
Corrales Winter Craft Show to showcase 40 local artists
Arts
The three-day event kicks off on ... The three-day event kicks off on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church, 966 Old Church Road in Corrales.
8
Want to force bulbs this winter? Here's how.
Arts
You need to decide which of ... You need to decide which of the two traditional methods of forcing you are going to employ. You can force in a draining ...
9
Albuquerque author David E. Stuart writing book exploring Chacoan ...
Arts
'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of ... 'The Chacoan World: A Legacy of Gardens' is part of a new book series from the University of New Mexico Press titled 'New Century ...