This beautiful folk art "bulto" or three-dimensional wood carving of the Holy Family is by renowned "Santero" Abad Eloy Lucero (1909-2009). Lucero was honored in 2001 at the age of 92 as a "Santa Fe Living Treasure." From his bio on that website: "Wood into art. That has been the lifework of Abad Eloy Lucero. Ever since he was 18 he has been turning pine and cottonwood into furniture, santos, retablos, bultos and other expressions of art. And that has been a long time-74 years--for he is now 92. He began crafting wood for the Native Market in Santa Fe, making Spanish Colonial furniture. During the Depression he taught traditional Hispanic arts for the National Youth Administration, inspiring hundreds of students. After service in World War II, he returned to New Mexico for a series of jobs: construction, U.S. Forest Service shop foreman, trainer at the Springer Boys School, instructor in woodworking, sculpting, upholstery and painting in vocational institutions in Taos, Mora and Quay counties. Since retiring from public service in 1971 he has concentrated on his art. His santos have been featured at the Museum of Albuquerque; and others of his works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe." This particular piece, which is absolutely charming, was done in 1958, when Lucero was 51, fairly early relative to the overall length of his vocation. Compared to his later works, this one is more primitive and less sophisticated, which is exactly why I love it.
Religious art of New Mexico originated with the Spanish settlers who came to this region in the late sixteenth century. As described by Montez Gallery in Santa Fe, they merged "their old European art form with their experiences in New Spain, they created their own unique devotional art. The santos (saints), were made in two-dimensional form known as retablos, and three-dimensional sculptural pieces known as bultos. Both are among the most valued collectibles of religious antiques today. The contemporary santos and bultos made by well-known artists, many of whom are descendants of the original santeros (religious artists), are equally valued by those seeking spiritual support and serious investment value."
Retablos and bultos of New Mexico are a beautiful form of folk art, a truly early form of "outsider art", that can be found in churches, museums, and personal home altars, as well as displayed as pieces of art in adobe and other homes.
This piece measures 9" wide by just over 10" tall and about 1-3/4" thick at the thickest point. Weighs 1/75 pounds unpacked. This piece is from 1958 and not only reflects the early style of the artist but also the wear of an older piece.
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