Friday, April 21, 2017

Santos y Cruces

Santos y Cruces means Saints and Crosses. I took a drive to the Santa Fe Drive area in Denver, Colorado to see the display of Santos at CHAC (Chicano Humanities and Arts Council). Santo art is wooden carvings from local wood and paints. The paints are hand made from natural materials. CHAC was celebrating their 17th Annual Santos y Cruces and works by Sean Trujillo, Carlos Santistevan, Frank Zamora, Teresa Duran, Jose Raul Esquibel, Lynn Fresques, Judy Miranda, and Ron Miera, among others, were displayed on the walls and on stands.

As I wandered around looking at the primitive looking art, a young man began talking to me about Santero art. He was very passionate as he explained that he had always had a great admiration for saints and how important his religion was to him. "I believe that is what led me to working in this field. I use only original paints that I make myself from plants, pinon oil, and red earth. It is like a bonding between me and my work." He pointed out some of his work and posed underneath his retablo. I noticed that some of his work had been sold.

Years ago I knew Carlos Santistevan, a Santero, and would have conversations with him about his work. It was then that I began to appreciate the work of the Santeros and all that is involved in producing this unique art.  I remember him but I am pretty sure he would not know me after nineteen years. His work is beautiful and so is the price tags on his work! There was nothing priced below two hundred dollars and I saw one art piece for twenty-five hundred. "Carlos is a Master Santero," the young artist told me,  "and his sons are following in his footsteps and some of the work here is by one of the sons."

One piece by Jose Raul Esquibel I found to be unique because he had placed Nuestra Senora Valvanera in a bark grotto. Artists come up with unusual and different ideas and I suppose that is why they are artists!

A post card was given to me of Our Lady of Guadalupe by Teresa Duran and then later I found her
original hanging on the wall.

There are many art galleries along Santa Fe Drive; Space Gallery, Habitat Gallery and Studio, Niza Knoll Gallery, Aker's Gallery, Core New Art, Event Gallery, Sync Gallery and CHAC.

The simple yet beautiful chest was created by Lynn Fresques and I like that women are involved with Hispanic art. In the past the Santero art was dominated by men. It was an interesting afternoon  learning about the Hispanic form of art. Years ago I thought the art form was too bloody and grotesque, but through the years I have slowly come to like and appreciate it.

Santero: Person who makes religious objects.

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