by Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts, with essays by Father Thomas Steele, S.J. and Dr. Charles M. Carrillo
9-3/4" x 8- 3/4" 192 pages; 129 color photos & 119 b/w photos
HARDCOVER 0-9641542-2-6 $39.95
SOFTCOVER 0-9641542-8-5 $29.95
1998 was the 400th anniversary of Spanish influence in the American Southwest. Our Saints Among Us: 400 Years of New Mexican Devotional Art is the companion book to the traveling exhibit that marks this important date in American history. The devotional history of Hispanic New Mexico has given the world the santos or saints that are prized today by galleries, collectors, museums and churches. Our Saints pictures over 250 examples of santos from the collection of over 350 pieces. The dates of the work rage from the 1750's to award winning pieces from 1997.
The book tells the importance of santos to the villages, churches and individuals of New Mexico and how the santos are made even today in the traditional techniques of hundreds of years ago. The book contains a complete list of the art and artists of the exhibit, churches and villages of New Mexico, a who's who of the New Mexican saints, a bibliography and for the first time a list of all the public collections of New Mexican santos and material culture in the world.
110 artists, both living and dead, are featured in the book including award winning artists including, Charlie Carrillo, Ramón José López, David Nabor Lucero, Marie Romero Cash, Catherine Robles-Shaw, Arlene Cisneros Sena, Alcario Otero, and Victor Goler. The art forms represented include: retablos (saints painted on flat wooden surfaces), bultos (three dimensional sculptual saints), lithographs, furniture, pottery, weaving and straw devotional objects on wood. Historic santos in the collection include those by José Aragon, Rafael Aragon, Laguna Santero, Molleno, A.J. Santero, Juan Ramón Velásquez, José Benito Oretga, and the Quill Pen Santero. Many of the pieces in the book and collection have won major awards from Spanish Market and the New Mexico State Fair. Some of the pieces have been exhibited nationally.
This is the first time a book and exhibit have explored the devotional aspect of the santos of New Mexico. The author Awalt & Rhetts, have also written Charlie Carrillo: Tradition & Soul. They are also the editors of Tradición Revista magazine. Father Steele is known for Santos & Saints, as well as The Regis Santos (co-authored with Awalt & Rhetts). Dr. Carrillo recently published Hispanic New Mexican Pottery and is an award-winning santero.
"The book Our Saints Among Us is a must - it will lead you to an appreciation of this historic art form as a sparkling gem." -- Our Sunday Visitor (national circulation 125,000) November 16, 1997
"San Juan College is the starting point of a four-year pilgrimage of saints. Our Saints Among Us celebrates this tradition of devotional art." -- The Daily Times, October 31, 1997
". . . you can see this fantastic, eye-catching, wonderful exhibition." -- KSJE-FM (Farmington), KGLP-FM (Gallup), KSFR-FM (Santa Fe), KANW-FM (Albuquerque), KDUR-FM (Durango), KENW-FM (Portales), KOTO-FM (Telluride), December 4, 1997
Book expresses the meaning, history behind exhibit of saints
Next year is the 400th anniversary of Spanish influence in the Southwest.
In honor of that "cuarto centennial," San Juan College is hosting the exhibit, "Our Saints Among Us: 400 Years of New Mexican Devotional Art," through Jan. 18.
The exhibit's companion book is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the art or its meaning.
Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts, husband-and-wife curators of the traveling exhibit, have written and edited "Our Saints Among Us" to help readers understand the history and significance of New Mexico's unique style of devotional art - its santos - from information on the exhibit's artists to the history of the media they use.
It's an easily read book with large sections of high-quality color photos of the works found in the exhibit. There are also photos of artists and of some of the state's older churches.
Since art cannot be completely understood without delving into its origins, "Our Saints Among Us" opens with a short, readable synopsis of don Juan de Oñate's 1598 explorations of New Mexico and the settlements he established.
This state's devotional art is inextricably rooted in the past. But it is also a living, thriving contemporary art form.
So Awalt and Rhetts focus not only on the history of the santos, but on the 20th-century artists, or santeros, who have kept the tradition alive. Among the guest essayists in the book is Charles Carrillo, one of the exhibit's most prolific santeros.
Another modern devotee of the art form, the Rev. Thomas Steele, shares his insights into the importance of family in carrying on the santero tradition.
And for those less familiar with individual saints and their significance, Awalt and Rhetts include a short list of who they are and why they're important to the state's Roman Catholic faithful.
Whether the viewer of the exhibit currently displayed at SJC participates in the religious significance of the santos - or simply values their artistry - this companion book is a "window" into the world of New Mexico's santos and into New Mexican culture and creativity.
"Our Saints Among Us" is distributed by the University of New Mexico Press, (800) 249-7737, or is available through the San Juan College bookstore, (505) 599-0260. -- The Daily Times, December 5, 1997
As a part of the celebration commemorating this significant date in American history (the 400th anniversary of Spanish influence in New Mexico), Our Saints Among Us was put together as a way to share an important private collection of Hispanic New Mexican devotional art in conjunction with a traveling museum exhibit. This book emphasizes the importance of santos to New Mexican churches, villages, and individuals. It describes how the santos are made today following the traditional techniques developed over the last few hundred years. This book carries a complete listing of the artists and pieces shown in the exhibit, in essence a "Who's Who" of the New Mexican santeros and santeras, and, for the first time, a list of all the public collections of New Mexican santos in the world . . . .
The overall emphasis both in the book and the traveling museum exhibit is not on art for art's sake, but rather on art as an extension of the devotion of the people - a window that allows us to view the way people lived and practiced their faith. The santos of New Mexico offered a way of telling the devotional stories of Catholic New Mexico. For, after all, the santos are family.
This is the first time a book and exhibit have explored the devotional aspect of the santos of New Mexico. -- Albuquerque Arts Magazine, February 1998
Murder mysteries set in New Mexico might be full of sinners driven by the love of power and money, but this is also a land inhabited by saints. And nowhere are saints more beloved than as the traditional santos figures. OUR SAINTS AMONG US: 400 Years of New Mexican Devotional Art by Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts (LPD Press, 2400 Rio Grande Blvd. NW #1-213, Albuquerque, N.M. 87104-322,192 pages, paper, $44.95) is both a book and a traveling exhibit of santos. The book is a dynamic interplay of text and illustration. Awalt and Rhetts introduce their collection, as well as describing the historical traditions out of which saint carving grew. They note that the often-used word santero to describe a maker of saints is actually contemporary usage. The traditional saints of New Mexico are also specific, as "The full inventory of Catholic saints from Europe was never available in those early days . . . whereas other saints, some of them unique to the New World, became great favorites." Among New Mexico's saints that grace these pages are, of course, San Antonio, San Francisco de Assisi and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Our Saints Among Us chronicles the art of carving figures and altar screens, and the technique of applying paint and inserting straw. Essays by Thomas J. Steele, S.J., and by Charles M. Carrillo greatly add to the depth of the book, bringing both a religious, iconographic perspective as well as a look at not only how a santo is made but also blessed and used. The photographs are colorful and numerous, so the pages of the book function as their own miniature traveling exhibit. Whether a handsome Santo Nino or a serene if crucified Santa Librada, each saint brings his or her own story and teaching alive. The book is greatly enhanced by photographs and biographies of both historical and contemporary santeros, and serves in its own way as an informal guide to some of the artists showing regularly at Spanish Market. -- New Mexico Magazine, June 1998
Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts are the publishers of Tradición Revista magazine, which focuses on the Hispanic art and culture of the American Southwest, and have published seven books on Hispanic art and culture. They have also curated a exhibit on New Mexican santos - "Our Saints Among Us" - that is travelling to museums and arts center throughout the country through 2002. They are the authors of Charlie Carrillo: Tradition & Soul and Our Saints Among Us, co-editors of Seeds of Struggle - Harvest of Faith, and co-authors of The Regis Santos: Thirty Years of Collecting.