Mexican Silver by Penny C. Morrill & Carole A. Berk. Published in 2001 by Schiffer, hardback, $59.95. ISBN 0-7643-1370-3, 272 pages with many color and b/w photos.
What is it about Mexican silver jewelry? It is different, sculptural, dramatic, and very collectible. You also want it. This is one of the best books we have seen on the subject. It is large, the pictures are great, there is a Values Reference, bibliography, and appendix of Alaskan Models, and an appendix of William Spratling’s life. It covers the main men, the women, and lesser known silversmiths. It makes you want to run out and buy silver at all of the inflated prices. A must have for collectors.
El Pueblo: The Historic Heart of Los Angeles by Jean Bruce Poole and Tevvy Ball. Published 2002 by the Getty Conservation Institute and collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum, Conservation and Cultural Heritage Series. Paperback, $24.95, ISBN 0-89236-662-1,136 pages, 88 color photos and 72 b/w photos.
We have gone on record in previous issues that projects that document historic neighborhoods are to be applauded. This book sets the rung very high on the level of excellence that other books need to obtain. Of course it is a Getty book. This book documents the beginnings of Los Angeles and shows how various ethnic communities made a contribution.
It uses archival photos as well as contemporary ones. The architecture, art, people, and murals are made an important part of El Pueblo’s history. This is the fifth book in the series and well worth the time and money. There is a suggested reading list of books and articles as well as a historic map. We found the one thing lacking was a map of contemporary LA to overlay what area was covered. It is a gem of documentation.
The Grandeur of Viceregal Mexico by the Museo Franz Mayer and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Published in 2002 by the University of Texas Press, paperback, $40, ISBN 0-89090-107-4, 379 pages, 180 color photos and 20 b/w.
This is the newest and finest book to come out on Mexican viceregal art (1521-1821). There are fine examples of furniture, silver, books, saints, paintings, and more. There are scholarly articles on the period and the pieces. The exhibit will be in Houston, Delaware, and San Diego and will be worth seeing. This exhibition catalog is large, lush, and a must have for anyone interested in Mexican colonial art. The text is in Spanish and English.
Loretto: The Sisters and Their Santa Fe Chapel by Mary J. Straw Cook. Published in 2002 by Museum of New Mexico Press, paperback, ISBN 0-89013-398-0, $22.50. 160 pages, 10 color photos and 30 B/W.
For those who wonder who built the circular staircase at the Chapel of Loretto the author has solved the mystery in this book. Yes the carpenter is named. For fans of the Chapel everything you wanted to know about it is here. It is a good little book that that will have legs in the history of Santa Fe. A good gift for those who have left New Mexico and it is a great addition to any locals’ library. Another mystery of life solved with documentation!
C is for Coyote by Andrea Helman with photos by Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan. Published in 2002 by Rising Moon, hardback, ISBN 0-87358-79-7, $15.95, 32 pages, all color photos.
Alphabet books for kids are great gifts. This one covers from A to Z but in Southwestern style. L is for lizard, I is for Indian ruin, V is for vulture, and all the way through. the photos are simple, clear, and easy for kids to understand. Kids in the Southwest will identify a book just for their region and kids in other parts of the worlds will like the new slant on the usual alphabet.
Santa Fe Houses by Christine Mather with Sharon Woods and photography by Jack Parsons. Published 2002 by Clarkson Potter, ISBN 0-609-60647-6, hardback, $45.00, 252 pages, 400 color photos.
Everybody selling homes, decorating homes, or making crafts for homes in Santa Fe should have a copy of this book in their office so customers can just open it and show them what they want. It covers everything, iron, blue, water, painted walls, santos, Native American art, folk art, furniture, adobe, you name it. Though it implies by the title that Santa Fe houses are used there are in fact houses in Tesuque and our neighbors the Rembes with Los Poblanos/La Quinta Inn. It is beautiful and a lot of ideas are covered.
Our one criticism is that all major art needs to be identified. They cite examples by Felix López, Felipe Archuleta, Sergio Tapia, and Benjamín Ortega, but failed to identify a huge shot of a Charlie Carrillo, along with Alcario Otero, David Nabor Lucero, and other artists of all races. We want to know who did the art and if you identify one you have to make the effort to identify all. Yes, it is petty but that is what we like. But it is a great book and needs to be given to anyone moving to New Mexico so they can salivate.
Blessings of Guadalupe by Eryk Hanut. Published in 2002 by Council Oaks Books. Foreword by Tey Marianna Nunn, Ph.D., hardback, $14,00, ISBN 1-57178-113-7, 48 pages, color illustrations and photos.
We have to be honest and what initially caught our eye at the bookstore was that Tey Marianna Nunn did the Foreword on Guadalupe. We took a second take and ran home to request a review copy. Their web sight didn’t work and there was no information on the book so we went back and bought it. It was cheap and there are other uses for it. It is a gift book — small in size and perfect for gifts. Actually it would be fun to include all the things Tey points out with it: Guadalupe plates, Guadalupe aerosol room freshener, Guadalupe nail clippers and on and on. There are photos and original art. It is cute. But we wonder about the motivation and to date there has been no press on the book. If you want it try Bookworks on Rio Grande.
Stitching Rites: Colcha Embroidery Along the Northern Rio Grande by Suzanne P. MacAulay. Published 2000 by The University of Arizona Press. Hardback, $35.00, ISBN 0-8165-2029-1, 220 pages, 8 color photos, 10 b/w photos.
This book won the Border Regional Library Association Award in 2001 the same time one of our books did so we became very aware of how good this little book was. We had been using it for research since it is one of the only comprehensive books on colcha in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. It documents some of the early stitchers and their attitudes toward their craft. For anyone interested in colcha this is the book to read for enjoyment and to gain a true understanding of the art of a people. Of interesting note, although Dr. MacAulay is an expert in Hispanic textile arts, she is currently heads a school of fine arts in New Zealand.
Around 505 — Legacy Media, Inc. PO Box 92575, Albuquerque, 87199. 1/505-856-0426 www. around505.com
Magazine Review — It has been a crime that a city as large as Albuquerque has no magazine. We used to. There is a Santa Fean and one for the State — New Mexico. Around 505 isn’t really Albuquerque but it has an Albuquerque look. It is a magazine that comes out six times a year and the current special is $9 for a subscription. Buying it by the issue is $3.95 but we went to five places before we found it at Newsland on Central.
It is a slick magazine with 58 pages. It is also very politically correct with articles on Native Americans, Hispanics, and Anglos. It has some lush photos that try to be New Yorkish. There are articles that are very different. We liked the locals at events-semi-candid pictures. We found the maps a distraction. They were good in the first issue but why have them in the second? Or maybe a small map applied to the story.
As all magazines try to find their way with the first few issues so will 505. It is interesting and we will try it for the first year. For those out of New Mexico it will keep them in touch.
Conexiones: Connections in Spanish Colonial Art by Carmella Padilla and Donna Pierce with an essay by Stuart Ashman. Published 2002 by Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, hardback, ISBN 0-9719103-0-8, $50.00 (SCAS/MoSCA Members get a 10% discount), 176 pages, many b/w and color photos.
To put things in perspective, we did not review the two volume book by SCAS back in 1996. They would not provide a review copy and many photos had no identification or captions while the text type was very hard to read. It is a good reference but if you can’t say something nice why bother. A lot of artists felt hurt when they were left nameless.
This is not the case with the new book. It is beautiful. The photos are wonderful and everything is identified even with accession numbers —one thing researchers love. It is a nice documentation of the opening of the MoSCA Museum and the first exhibit. There are traditional and contemporary works and adults and children are represented. Not all the work in the inaugural exhibit is in the book, especially the San Isidro display. But it is pretty representative. And the book is out in time for the opening of the Museum and the exhibits.
We found one puzzling thing that caused discussion. It is minor but strange. None of the books in the Bibliography have dates past 1998. Now the first thing to think is that the authors didn’t read anything past 1998. But the 1997 book on micaceous pottery written by Dr. Charlie Carrillo seems to be at least looked at, but not even listed as well. The book on Frank Applegate and the Portfolio book were ignored. All the recent books since 1997 containing new research — at least a dozen books —which impacts one’s understanding of the collection were missing. It is minor but why?
The other minor problem is that a photo of the Museum/house is missing. We would have even done a before and after with the explanation of how a historic house becomes a Museum. The Society may think that has been done to death but the book will outlive us all. Note too that Jimmy Trujillo is not Charlie Carrillo’s brother-in-law as stated in the book. That being said it is a beautiful book and worth having to remember the opening. The contemporary artists in the book will be pleased. It is a world better than previous efforts and starts off their new life in fine form.
Reviews by Barbe Awalt
First published in Tradicion Revista, Volume 7, No. 3, Fall 2002.
Copyright 2002. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission.