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JUNE / JULY 2018

“Colors of  Spanish New Mexico”

Traditional weaving by Don Sandoval

June 1 – July 28, 2018

 

In 1598, Juan De Onate, his soldiers and settlers from Spain traveled up the Rio Grande River basin up to the confluence of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama in Northern New Mexico. There he settled and started a colony and township called San Juan just north of what is now the town of Espanola. He brought when him livestock including churra (now known as churro) sheep. The churra sheep is an ancient Iberian breed of sheepfrom Zamora province in Castile and Leon, Spain. These sheep provided meat, milk and wool that helps sustain generations of settlers. The Spanish settlers were only allowed to bring the churra sheep from Spain. Churra means common or ordinary. The prized sheep in Spain at the time was the Merino sheep. However, the king of Spain did not allow the Spanish settlers from bringing the Merino sheep to the new world. From this Spanish township of San Juan the entire sheep, wool and weaving craft spread out to influence the entire southwest.

 

The Navajo population acquired many churro sheep from the Spanish population. Prior to the introduction of sheep to the Southwest by the Spanish, weaving production by the Navajo was based on plant fibers. The Churro sheep is a very hardy sheep that doesn’t require lots of food and water to survive. This was useful in the harsh southwest environment where the Spanish and Navajo were living.  Characteristics of the Churro sheep include course long outer hair and fine soft inner wool, range of colors and a double set of horns. The durable long hair and the fine wool are used together to make a yarn that is long lasting. The hair protects the finer wool. This is why Navajo and Spanish New Mexico Rio Grande rugs last a long time. The churro sheep come in about 15 natural colors. Deep rich blacks, whites, subtle grays, tans to browns are all found on churro sheep.

 

Churro yarn also holds dyes very well. The short wool fibers absorb the dyes while the long hairs do not. This produces a wonderful sheen (or luster) when light reflects of the yarn that doesn’t occur with other types of wool yarn. Early on the preferred dyes were from natural plants found locally. Sage blossoms (Chamisa) produce wonderful shades of yellow, Kota (Navajo tea) produces yellows, golds, ochres and rust colors. Onionskins and lichens produce greens. Walnut hulls are used to produce browns. Brazilwood was used to dye reds. Madder root was used for reds and oranges. Logwood was used for purples and shades of gray. Once imports were available the local dyers started using indigo (from a plant) for blues and Cochineal (a cactus beetle) for reds, pinks and purples. These two dyes were imported from Mexico. In the late 1800’s Germantown synthetic-dyed yarns became available to local weavers. The convenience of using commercial yarns helped make this the choice for many textile artists in the 19thcentury. Both natural and synthetic (chemical) dyes are still used today.

 

The Spanish New Mexico Rio Grande design style has evolved through the years. Early on, the designs were just simple stripes and bands. Both the Spanish settlers and Native Americans were using just bands and stripes. Soon, however, Navajo designs started to become more complicated as traders began to influence the Navajos to evolve their designs to make them more marketable. Traders began to introduce the Navajos to Asian textile designs. Soon after, the New Mexico governor Don Fernando Chacon requested that the victory in Mexico City contact the Bazan brothers, Don Ignacio Ricardo and Don Juan who were certified master weavers to live in Santa Fe where they could teach weaving trade to local weavers. They arrived in 1807 to train local weavers Saltillo weaving and design. Saltillo design elements have the following design characteristics: serrated lines, double-serrated lines or hourglass line, zig-zag strips, inset rhombus or diamonds, diamond stripes and Saltillo leaf patterns. Soon the local Spanish weavers were making designs with bands and stripes that included Saltillo design elements. Soon these design elements evolved to include chevrons: plain, stepped and serrate; diamond and hourglass shapes; centered diamond; serrate diamond; leaf; zigzag column, serrate zigzag column, central concentric diamond. Textiles that are made in New Mexico that use of some or all of these design elements are known as the Rio Grande textiles. There are three distinct variations within the Rio Grande style. The first is the Rio Grande banded style. This style is a simple design that includes only bands and stripes. The second is the Rio Grande Saltillo style that includes Saltillo design elements without bands and stripes.

 

The third is the Rio Grande Vallero Star style. The Vallero Star style includes Saltillo design elements with the addition of one or more 8-pointed stars but without bands and stripes. The 8-pointed star design is similar to the American colonial quilt star and was introduced in Rio Grande textiles by Patricia Montoya (ca. 1865-1890) who lived in Vallecitos, NM.

 

Don Leon Sandoval is (at least) a fifth generation weaver. He comes from a family rich in the New Mexico Spanish arts and crafts traditions. His great-uncle, Jose Dolores Lopez, was a world famous woodworker from Cordova, NM. His work is in collections world wide including museums in New Mexico and the Smithsonian. Don’s father, Laido Sandoval, was a hobbyist woodworker. As such, Laido built looms for local northern New Mexico community centers and as gifts to those who asked for one. Though Laido built looms he only made a handful of weaving in his life. His passion was with woodworking and carpentry. During the summer of 1991 Don was home from college. Without anything to do to keep him occupied he decided to try his hand in weaving since there was an unused Rio Grande style walking loom in the house that Laido had built. Since his grandmother passed in 1982, Don learned how to operate this walking loom from his father. He also learned about simple banded design styles from him. Soon Don was teaching himself how to dye his yarn with natural pigments in the style of his ancestors. He also started learning advanced Rio Grande style designs through self-study at Santa Fe museums and trial-and-error.  A few years later in 1994 Don juried into the world famous Santa Fe Spanish Market, an art show that specializes in Spanish New Mexico arts and crafts. Don has won numerous awards for his textile work at the Spanish Market. His work is in collections throughout the world including the St. James Cathedral in Seattle, El Rancho de las Golondrinas Living Museum in Santa Fe, NM and the Denver Art Museum.

 

Don works mainly in the Rio Grande style traditions of his ancestors using hand-dyed (natural and chemical) churro wool yarn. Sometimes he creates tapestries by blending the three styles for his own interpretation of the Rio Grande style. He also produces contemporary style tapestries.

 

This year, Don is teaching his fifteen year-old daughter Maya how to weave. She will enter into the 2018 youth Santa Fe Spanish Market as a first year participant.

 

Both Don and Maya will have textiles at the Eastern Shore Art Center. To see more of Don’s work, visit his Instagram page here.

“Beachcombing: Impressions of the Gulf Coast”

Paintings by Theresa Grillo Laird

June 1 – July 28, 2018

 

“Painting, like the rest of life, is a journey filled with glimpses of the less obvious truth if you take the time to look. What is truly there beyond the impressions of a first glance?

 

 This question filled my mind after an early painting experience. I was younger than school age and was sitting at a child size picnic table in my back yard on a glorious summer day. The scent of fresh laundry that my mother was hanging, filled the air. In front of me was a coloring book with an image of an elephant already covered in a layer of black dots. There wasn’t much room to color between those black dots but I picked up a crayon and was about to begin when my mother set a brush and glass of  water beside me. “You need this.”I touched a dripping brush to the page and jumped back in startled amazement as a sea of viridian green raced across the page.

 

I was so intrigued by color hidden within black dots, that I started looking more closely at other things to see if there was another reality underneath. I scraped rocks to see if they held color under their dusty surface. I took pieces of bark off off tree trunks hoping to find hidden colors. I peeled the beige paint off the metal buttons of my shirt to see if the paint was masking other colors. When I didn’t find colors there, I dreamt dreams of buttons with layer upon layer of vivid colors. I knew I wanted to be an artist though I barely knew what that meant. I was still in elementary school when I began painting in oils.

 

Today I still paint in oils, and I’m still searching for what lies hidden within. What am I really seeing and what combination of line, brush stroke and color do I need, to reveal the true character within the seemingly ordinary? That is the journey I’m so fortunate to have been set upon. I invite you to enjoy the results”.

 

Theresa grew up in New Jersey near the Palisades of the Hudson River. She started painting as a young child and her art has always been the focus of her life. After living in Canada for twelve years, she moved to the Florida Panhandle, where she paints outdoors and in her studio in Gulf Breeze. Through her generous use of color and bold brush strokes, Theresa creates oil paintings that represent the intimate and emotional bond she has with her natural surroundings. Theresa was honored to have her painting Gulf Islands National Seashore, selected to become part of the Permanent Art Collection of the Federal Reserve Board Bank in New Orleans. She has been juried into and has exhibited with both the Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionist Society. Theresa teaches painting from her Gulf Breeze studio and is an adjunct instructor at Pensacola State College teaching plein air painting, floral still life and color workshops.

 

https://theresagrillolaird.com

“Gulf of America” 

Watercolors by Herb Willey

June 1 – July 28, 2018

 

Born in January 1940, Herb Willey has devoted much of his life traveling an artistic path that lead to his present identity as an internationally known Mississippi watercolorist.His first structured art lessons were in the public school system in Miami, Florida.

 

While serving in the US Naval Air, Herb attended the University of Hawaii as a part-time art student. After leaving the Navy he attended USL at Lafayette, Louisianaon a senatorial scholarship as a fine art major. While attending USL, Herb’s collage work was selected by the LouisianaState Art Commission in 1963 for a 1-year traveling exhibit in all the Louisiana State Art Museums.

 

His acrylic paintings of Louisiana swamp scenes were chosen by the LaSalette Hospital Board to decorate theirhospital in Loreauville, LA.Working part-time and following school, Herb worked as staff artist and advertising designer at the Daily Iberianin New Iberia, Louisiana and later as Advertising Manager at the Hammond Daily Star in Hammond, LA.

 

As a self-employed advertising designer in New Orleans from 1965-2003, Herb won awards from companies includingMercury Outboard Motors and Cook Chemical Company. His primary watercolor instruction was with the well-knownNew Orleans watercolorist, Harrel Gray and his work was on display with Harrel’s at the Old Quarter Galleryin the French Quarter during the 90’s. Herb has been a full-time Mississippi resident since 2000 and Bay St Louis since2013. His work is displayed at Galleries along the coast including Gallery 220, the Biloxi Visitors Center and Bay Life.

 

His watercolor pieces have been juried and honored in regional, national and international shows including the Arts ofHancock County, The Louisiana Watercolor Society, The International Watercolor Society Global Division, The Gulf CoastArt Association, the Ocean Springs Art Association and the Pass Christian Art Association annual shows. He has also beenfeatured in other venues including the Hancock County Courthouse, the Bay St Louis Mayor’s Office and the DiamondheadLibrary. In August 2014 Herb was chosen by the Sea Coast Echo newspaper as both “Artist of the Week” and “Artist of theMonth”. He was chosen “Peoples Choice” Artist in 2015 in “The Arts Invitational Jury Show” at the Waveland City HallGallery. His art project for his solo show “Along Beach Boulevard” (scenes along Highway 90 in Mississippi) was featuredin a story in the April 2017 edition of “South Mississippi Living magazine”.

 

To view more of Herb’s work, visit him Facebook or Twitter.

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