Monday, June 27, 2016

Santos and the Jews

At the NM Arts & Crafts Fair: Yesterday was yet another delightful day in the Land of Enchantment. So Mr & Mrs Abq Jew & Friends took the opportunity to visit the New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair at Expo New Mexico.

Here is a photo of the retablo we came home with. It is now hanging on the wall in our dining area.

Ruth by Charles M Carrillo

Ah, but there's a story behind it. In fact, lots of stories.

First of all - a retablo (if you don't know) is (Wikipedia tells us) "a devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art."

This is not the sort of thing that Mr & Mrs Abq Jew ordinarily collect.

But there we were, walking around the Fair, when we came upon the booth of Charles M Carrillo. Where, among the display of retablos, was not only Ruth - but also a young Elijah the Prophet. You know - Old Testament types.

Along with a retablo of Moshe Rabbenu with the Ten Commandments. Spelled out (OK ... truncated) in Hebrew. Correctly.

Along with (lehavdil) your more traditional, New Testament, Christian retablos.

Along with quite a few retablos that were certainly not traditionally New Testament Christian. Like, for example -

1934 Chevy with San Isidro Labrador by Charles M Carrillo

Which prompted Mr & Mrs Abq Jew to wonder -

Who is Charlie Carrillo?

Well ....

Charles M. Carrillo (b. 1956 in Albuquerque, NM) is an artist, author, and archaeologist known particularly for creating art using Spanish colonial techniques that reflect 18th century Spanish New Mexico. 
Carrillo has blended craft, conservation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero, a carver and painter of images of saints. The depiction of saints for religious purposes dates to the 18th century in Hispanic New Mexican communities. 
Carrillo’s work has shown throughout the country and is in many permanent collections in museums throughout the United States including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Denver Art Museum. 
Carrillo is also the winner of numerous awards, including the National Heritage Fellowship Award bestowed upon him by the National Endowment for the Arts. 
Carrillo earned a doctorate in anthropology/archaeology from the University of New Mexico, but his true commitment to tradition has led him to work within the religious community of northern New Mexico as an artist and an advocate. 
A generous mentor, he has inspired numerous artists to pursue the native techniques, values, and devotional spirit of the santeros.
But wait! There's more!

It turns out that Charlie Carrillo is also one of Monday's featured speakers at the 2016 Conference of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, speaking on the topic New Mexico Saintmakers of the 17-19th Centuries.

And although Charlie remains Catholic, he has traced his ancestors back to at least some Jewish roots in pre-Expulsion Spain.

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew must have spend 45 minutes just trading stories with Charlie.
We gotta tell ya - New Mexico is just one very interesting place with all sorts of interesting people. We love it here.

About Time by Deborah Klezmer

And then Mr & Mrs Abq Jew wandered over to Deborah Klezmer's booth. And yes, her forebears were in the music business.

But that's a story for another time ....


Bon said...

Your postings are always interesting to me. The make me curious and I often smile. Thank you for producing quality commentary.

Ivy said...

Hi ABQ Jew!
I am a big fan of Deborah Klezmer's work...she also shows in Santa Fe, and in Eldorado at the Eldorado Studio Tour in Spring.