November 5, 2004

Hispanic Devotional Arts Go On Display at The San Diego Museum of Man

Exhibit Features Examples of  Santero Tradition

An exhibition of carved images of Saints, “Cuando Hablan Los Santos: Contemporary Santero Traditions from Northern New Mexico,” will  open at the San Diego Museum of Man, Saturday, November 13  and continue through September, 2005.

According to Mari Lyn Salvador, Ph.D., the Museum’s new executive director, the Museum of Man  is the last stop on a highly successful international tour which included Bolivia, Madrid, and Andorra and Los Angeles.

“The exhibition, with text in Spanish as well as English, documents the past, present and future of a rich tradition in the Southwest, and includes with a selection of 19th century Santos from the Museum of Man collections,” she said.  Highlights include a lovely San Ysidro, the patron of laborers, by Jose Benito Ortega, and painted images by Jose Rafael Aragon, the artist associated with many of the chapels in New Mexico, which have inspired Santeros for generations.

A contemporary section features the work of 13 of New Mexico’s finest Santeros or “Saint Makers.” Each artist created a piece they felt represented their best work, plus an early piece and one that illustrated a transition in their style. 

The artists used a variety of tools and materials, including Spanish Colonial hand tools, power tools, watercolors, oil paints and acrylics. While they used many methods and materials, each sees their work as “carrying on the Santero traditions —sometimes reinforcing traditional aspects, and sometimes challenging them through innovation,” Salvador said.

To give a sense of the future, pieces created by 22 children and grandchildren from the families of the featured Santeros are also included in the exhibition.

Developed at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mex-ico with Salvador as the exhibit curator and project director, the exhibit  is finishing an international tour.

“The Museum of Man is an ideal culmination for the Santos exhibition,” Salvador said. “It was such a great success in Madrid, Barcelona, Andorra and La Paz, Bolivia, I feel that it will be well received in this warm and gracious community.”

Located beneath the landmark California Tower in Balboa Park, the Museum of Man is San Diego’s only museum devoted to anthro-pology. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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