Like bears coming out of hibernation, people start to stretch and yawn and look around and ask me “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?” It’s similar to the fall preparation for hunkering down for the winter…”What can I do to cozy-up my house?” as the leaves drop and a chill wafts through the air.20170301_084712

Spring is the season for re-birth and starting fresh. Fresh – what does that suggest? This year we are very fortunate that Pantone set forth the color direction for the entire year – greenery. I have great enthusiasm for incorporating this bright verdant living color throughout the seasons – yes, a color for all seasons – but we are not limited to green in its various forms. I give you permission to add color that makes you feel good. Pick your favorite color…any color!

Now let’s get to that question about “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?.” Here are 10 tips to change your world and bring joy as spring approaches.

  1. Color POP: Speaking of your favorite color…”paint magic” as its often referred is the practically instantaneous positive reinforcement that you need to make a quick, effective change in your interior! Pick an accent wall – preferably one that is framed by inside corners (rather than stopping a color on an outside corner) and take the leap of painting it an entirely different color than your norm. 20170301_085601 Bear in mind other color cues in the room so as not to create a discord of color or completion between your design elements – but don’t be afraid either. The idea is a pleasing POP! and an extra pointer, if your room is already painted a decisive color, white can be the accent. Yes, white can be an intentional color accent and not the lack of color that it can often seem to be.
  2. Live Plants and Flowers: Spring suggests flowers and greenery – to watch them grow toward the warm weather, bulbs inside can be fun, bouquets of your favorite flowers, sprigs of greenery in a small vase can even be enough. red_tulips_spring_decor-16A bud vase on your bathroom sink counter, a statement piece at your entry or coffee table, a flowering plant with young buds to last a few weeks, a fern to add feathery freshness. – any and all of these can add life to your interior spaces.  If you have flowering trees or bushes outside, this is the time to cut a few branches and bring them inside, place in a vase with water and the warmth of your interior will “force” the buds to bloom – Voila!
  3. Reupholster to Refresh: Do you have a tired piece of furniture that might deserve a new fabric? A favorite comfy chair, a hand-me-down of sentimental value, a good frame (bones) that can be salvaged to new with a change of printed fabric, leather, or woven textile. This furniture facelift is just the trick to give new life to older pieces.20170301_084752

4. Change It Up: When you move things around and rearrange your furniture, artwork              and accessories you will be surprised how you can refresh without adding anything                new. Take a look at your furniture arrange. Can the same pieces be rearranged in the              same room and create a new look?? Might you move one piece out to another room or            bring in a different piece from some other room?

5. Pillows to Toss: Throw pillows…throw them out! Well, I exaggerate a bit, but cycle                them into a bag in the closet for another time or place or “recovery” and find some fun        new pillows to brighten and refresh your interior. What an effective change a few                    colorful pillows can make in a room!20170301_084945

    6. Add Art: DIY or find something to cheer you! Dressing your walls with new work can              lift your  spirits! 20170301_152224

  1. Fresh Fragrances: Like Votive’s Pink Mimosa or Skeem’s Current Mangosteen scented candles, or Vance Kittera incense will add a dimension of sensory appreciation to refresh the stale, stagnant air of winter.votivo-czwxdsjwwaahpr_1
  2. Wipe and Dry: New dishtowels are a great and simple boost to change seasons! Find some fresh and uplifting colors to brighten your kitchen and make wiping up more fun! They make a great gift too!
  3. Stash Your Throw: What’s that afghan on your sofa or that blanket on your bed? Switch out the dark colors of winter with fresh new accents to add color and cuddle in too!
  4. Get Tidy: Marie Kondo has written books about it- she knows the “life-changing magic” that getting organized and tidy can do for you! 20170301_085323Spring cleaning is a great therapy and introspective look at the things you own, how much you have and what is clutter beyond your ability to enjoy it all.

 

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For years, Barcelona Tapas has been a creatively successful culinary and social scene on a quiet cobblestone backstreet in the tropical, seaside, destination of Puerto Vallarta. The vertical profile of the sun-bleached white building is distinctive with its open spaces – dining rooms on each ascending level.

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It is a extremely popular, hip and happening, dining venue which has recently had a spectacular face-lift that brings the structure and open-aired/interior environment up to par with the culinary delights.

Upon arrival, the familiar, welcoming doorway opens to softly lit aggregate stairs that sweep up each tier of the towering edifice.

A massive Cantera stone fountain babbles gently amidst tropical plantings and an iron grill-work is indirectly illuminated for a dramatic effect. An expansive patio all with honed stone tile floors begins the layers of available spaces.

Next an intimate open-aired dining area with an adjacent chef’s table and luminous, full-wall wine cooler beckons with an inviting aura. The intense red drama of a bullfight is rendered in a large painting on the rear wall – a suiting backdrop to the Spanish theme.

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Continuing the ascension, the delightful glossy black ironwork railing follows along and up the open-to-the-sky aggregate staircase turning past the last landing.  Ahead, the beautiful,  warm glow of the new dimensional ceiling treatment accented with wood and indirect lighting draws the eye upward.

Upon arrival on this rooftop dining platform, what was always an exciting view of the city lights, both in the foreground and circling the bay miles around to the north,  now expresses the new architectural features and finishes dazzling the eye.

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Effective lighting, recessed ceiling details, a new clear glass railing, and modern ceiling fans dangling like detached white nosecone propellers present a whole new, fresh, modern look. The drama and effectiveness of the lighting paired with the wonderful surround sound, coming from eight Bose wall-mounted speakers and 2 sub-woofers recessed into the ceiling, result in an atmosphere and music that are seductive and sensational.

But wait – there’s more!!! Yes, an additional rooftop dining patio is revealed upon discovering the hidden staircase at the far end of the bar. New furniture and a billowing fabric-draped portico are soon to arrive!

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This new space not only increases the seating capacity, but offers yet another  panoramic view and trendy design-themed open venue – expanding the options even more!

The project is Chef/Owner Bill Carballo’s passion.

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He has been at it for years creating deliciously original and traditional Spanish tapas (here his exquisie presentations have been half eaten in the rush to enjoy)

from the immaculate exhibition kitchen at the start of the long bar, with a fine-tuned staff eager to assist and cater to your every need.

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This enchanting transformation has attracted new discriminating, trend-setting clients and welcomed the return of  loyal fans to experience this exciting new and stylish interpretation of Barcelona Tapas.

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The doormen Luis and his affable sidekick are there to greet and assist!

Thank you gentlemen and Buenos Noches until next time!!!!

Su mundo es corazones. Artist Paola Alonso Rangel is at the heart of Vallarta and literally that is the name of her shop, Corazon Vallarta, where she thrives amidst the bustling activity in the old town, on a busy street corner, with much traffic flowing by both in vehicles and on foot.

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A man carrying a frighteningly large pane of glass about 6 feet long by 3 feet wide effortlessly and without intimidation marches down the street with taxis and buses bouncing by him. I cringe at the site and the young shop attendant, Nidia, shrugs with a smile and says “It’s Mexico.”

With Valentine’s Day nearing, this exciting little shop offers a wealth of opportunities to find just the right gift to say “be mine!”

Paola’s little Chihuahua, Pecas (Freckles), suns on the front step seemingly oblivious to all the activity swirling by. She is front and center of all that is happening in Corazon Vallarta.

A designer and hands-on artist of nearly everything she sells in her shop, Alonso Rangel is a model of organization and time utilization. She has her machine fine-tuned and knows just what it takes to create, prepare, produce and market her work.

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In the well-lit back room of her little tienda, she has all of her art supplies neatly organized on sturdy shelving sparing not one square inch of available space. Her computer plays soft Spanish songs that, with the fan blowing gently, creates a pleasing atmosphere where she designs and paints with a couple of assistants to assemble and package her work to sell.

As is true of most urban storefronts, the fine grit that is continuously accumulating from the dusty streets and vehicles in passing contributes to the concerns of successful retail presentation. Hers and others in this type of scene perhaps suffer more due to the cobblestones which collect and distribute ongoing layers of the sooty, dusty, fines.  So everything is kept painstakingly clean and wrapped in cellophane  – just another stage of the process that makes her conscientious practices so impressive.

From colorful wooden puzzles, picture frames, key hangers, boxes and magnets, the expansive home decor and gift collection, on which she collaborates with her brother in Guadalajara, is a treasure of her designs and creativity. All manner of colorful animals with whimsical expressions are the subjects of her puzzles with a bit of flowers and fruit in the mix for a generous variety of choices. Alonso Rangel designs all of the pieces while her brother and his crew with a manufacturing studio in Guadalajara do all the mill-work, brilliantly colorful painting and glossy lacquer finish.

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Other of her work is comprised of original one-of-a-kind creations on canvas and wood, heart-themed all in keeping with her heart-felt passion for  corazones.

She efficiently sets-up her own assembly line of stages of production, with Pecas supervising closely, so that each of her made-by-hand (hecho a mano) originals are always filling the walls and shelves from where they are being lovingly selected by customers to take home.

Steel heart sculptures, wooden cut-outs, carvings, and more are the multi-media of her continually, seemingly endless creative concepts and body of work!

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Thank you Paola for all of your inspiration – by design!

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Short days and longs nights…Do you find that your interior is dull, lifeless and even feels a bit cavernous after dark? As the sun  sets and the lamps come on, the effects can be horrible, adequate or sensational.

Poor lighting can have remarkable subliminal effects on mood, energy, and attitude. The subtle signs of poor lighting such as dark corners, shadows on faces, difficulty reading and dull colors are all important factors that contribute to an uncomfortable interior in these short days of long, dark nights.

Lighting has multiple reasons for being—three primary ones—to see, yes, ambient light. But to do tasks (reading, sewing, playing games), and accent lighting to illuminate artwork and other interior features. Mood lighting such as candlelight (once the primary light source – now an effect in most cases) is a lesser but effective  lighting tool.  Good lighting makes amazing differences.

Beware of down-lights. Lights that shine down from the ceiling. Although a very effective and common lighting tool, they must be balanced with good ambient light.  I have often used this example of sitting in a restaurant across from your date and their face is painted with ghoulish dark shadows under their eyes, beneath their nose, and accentuating all the folds of their features. It is the opposite of a kid putting a flashlight under their chin shining upward creating similarly haunting effects. Creepy. Certainly not flattering.

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The same unpleasant effects happen in the home. It’s such a common malady of ineffective lighting that most people assume it is a necessary evil of short days. It’s sad—no, really it’s SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder! To treat the serious effects of this syndrome there are many studies and inventive solutions, but for most of us, the less arresting effects of poor lighting can be greatly improved and our lives enhanced.

To begin this process of evaluating your lighting an improving it right away, start with the lamps—the light bulbs! We have so many choices these days including the familiar incandescent, compact fluorescent, and the newer LED with excellent color choices and low energy usage.  We could talk about the “temperature” of light sources measured in Kelvin, but we won’t—only that it runs a spectrum of warm to cool.

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Walk around your home and look specifically at the color that glows from the various light sources. Does it look yellow? Does it look white? Does it look blue-ish? Recognizing these distinctions from warm to cool is the start.

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Where are the shadows? Are the corners dark and recessive? And, when you combine these two, do you find, for example, dark areas and yellow glowing sources? Sometimes that soft, warm yellow is preferred while other scenes are made more intentionally crisp with cooler light.

Experiment with different lamps in your fixtures – light bulbs in your table lamps and recessed cans, hallway sconces and bathroom fixtures. It’s a fun experiment and very illuminating – yes, the pun was intended.

Are your lamp shades opaque or translucent? Do the shades themselves cast a color? Do they block the light or allow it through? Do they throw the light up and down or up, down and out? This is another detail of which to take note.

If you have dated recessed fluorescent tube units – common in kitchens for example – they are often housed in a box either recessed or surface-mounted on the ceiling. Take a look at the plastic lenses – are they discolored and yellow? This aging process can dramatically affect the quality of light that is emitted. So if you are not ready to replace these fixtures with more effective modern lighting statements, try replacing the lenses.

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A similar installation is that of skylights which have fluorescent lamps up inside the wells with that same plastic lens over the opening to the skylight. The original idea was to have the natural light pass through during the day and artificial light take over after hours. The lens  was to intentionally conceal the unattractive fluorescent tubes, but it sacrificed the depth of the framed well. A quick update is to remove the lenses and fluorescents and expose the well of the skylight adding dimension to the room and eliminating the unattractive lens that conceals the dimensional cavity. Recessed can fixtures around the skylight in the surrounding ceiling are the most common solution to this transition from old to new, a cable can be strung, pendants can be hung, but if budget constraints prohibit that investment at this time, you might investigate the power source up inside the skylight well and replace the fluorescent fixture with an inexpensive, adjustable, surface-mounted spotlight – perhaps with two heads to provide light from that same source while opening the skylight well without the unnecessary lens.

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The dark pockets around your rooms can be improved with up-lights in corners and up under plants. Inexpensive fixtures are available at any lighting store or big box home improvement stores. Place one of these up-lights (remember to select the color “temperature” that pleases you the most) and see what that additional pop in the corner does to open your space. When up-lights are used beneath plants to shoot upward and cast shadows onto the walls and ceilings can create drama and exotic interest at night. This is true both indoors and out.

Torchiere floor lamps are those that face upward. Like a torch, they send the light toward the ceiling – another effective splash of light in an otherwise dark space in the room.

Colors are radically affected by the color of light that shines upon them. Therefore, an interior color scheme can be horribly tweaked to not resemble at all the actual colors chosen and combined to create the scene, when artificially illuminated after dark. Contrarily, colors can be rendered with great brilliance and accuracy when illuminated with the right combination of lighting. (although daylight contributes in these two examples).

By the same token we can have great fun and “paint” with light creating a color scheme entirely with colored lamps washing the walls, and interior elements just for the art and exercise of doing so, but I digress.

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In summary, look around your rooms after dark and look for opportunities to make changes that will dramatically affect the comfort level – the results will be startling!!! If planning new construction or remodel – have plenty of light in key places throughout the space. Think dimmers so you can control the amount of light. Let there be light in this Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ta Da! Pantone announces its color of the year for the coming 2017…drum roll please…and the color is Greenery!! Yay!!! Last year there were two  – yes, imagine that – they couldn’t decide so they slurried Rose Quartz and Serenity resulting in a pale, cool, wimpy blend of soft rose and lavenderesque shades into a blended wispy pastel dream. Non-committal, in my opinion…lacking confidence.  Last year the rationale was stated by Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman as…

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But this year they have it with this fresh organic hue in a yellow-ish shade primed for this year’s rationale from Ms. Eiseman which is:

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I have always loved green. I grew up in a Virginia jungle of a suburban neighborhood inside the Beltway surrounding my hometown of Washington DC. where the first signs of spring were the tiny tips of dogwood leaves poking forth from the delicate branches of those beautiful under-growth trees. The dogwoods were the graceful, human-scale layer beneath the towering canopy of the immense, rigid, vertical tulip poplar and white oak trees that commanded the woods.

Soft mosses, lacey ferns and perky lily of the valley carpeted the hidden pockets of our backyard. New growth is that prediction of amazing renewal and promise of the start of summer. So it is a prime observation that as Eiseman states in her 2017 rationale “greenery…bursts forth…with a reassurance we yearn for…” although I do not feel this is peculiar to this year as winter always makes me yearn for greenery and the reassurance  that spring and summer will return.

My mother also loved green and that probably influenced my childhood perception of comfort and context of it in interior design. She had and still has an eye for color. In 1959 she selected an amazing sculpted wool pile carpet in a warm, dark, neutral, taupe tone and built upon it a color scheme of pinks and greens that was subtle and relaxing, organic and contrasting, blending beautifully in our wooded setting of verdant lushness in which we were cozily situated.

That was upstairs where we felt like we lived in a flowering tree house amidst the dense collection of green leafy between the trees and surrounded by all shades of pink and white azaleas. Downstairs, where we retreated in the winter months, her greens were mixed with gold tones creating a warm interpretation of the greenery around us.

When so many in that era, between the 60s and 70s, were styling interiors with heavy oranges, browns and golds,

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my mother gravitated toward Lily Pulitzer’s fresh, tropical palette of lime green and hot pinks, clean crisp turquoise and citrusy lemon yellow – both in her wardrobe and her interior accent colors.

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Our beach house was turquoise and teal, navy and tan – the sea and the sand.

Following color trends is a slippery slope. I have blogged about it in the past. Adopting that which is often a combination of colors instantly records a place in time when everything from bath towels and shower curtains, bed dressings to draperies appears in the marketplace and inserts its predetermined obsolescent combinations into the lives of so many who would rather catch the wave – often behind the crest – to own and participate in what is conveyed by the market to be the “in” thing to do and to have.

It is best not to embrace and adopt the combinations that the market presents. It is better to select color and combinations that transcend the trends – skirt them so as not to fall into the trap of dated color schemes and tired combinations. Some avoid the trap by staying neutral. The safe, timeless colors of whites and grays mushrooms and taupes- but where is the risk and fun in that?

“Too bad for them” I often remark. It is such a missed opportunity…a limitation to select colors that you think you are supposed to like rather than those that truly bring you joy. I say “go for joy every time.” Color is such personality. It is a stage-setting element. It is a backdrop or foreground. It is a theme. It is an atmosphere.

With all that having been said, I for one am thrilled with this fresh selection for the new year. A bright beginning full of hope and new growth, fresh starts and positive forward movement – organic and life-affirming. So seek the colors that brings you joy and go forth with color in this new 2017 soon to arrive. My personal schemes will always have greenery!!!

Fun with PERF!

December 3, 2016

Currently finishing a project that has provided a great theme for incorporating metal, it seemed a worthy blog subject for it’s fun and flexibility! Perf is the product – a perforated steel that comes in several percentages of perforation.

We have used this many times for rolling window shades in a flexible coated nylon material. It is great for filtering for sunlight and privacy while allowing a certain amount of “see-through.” It has been used as an architectural screening material for years. You have probably seen it and not realized it on building storefronts and bus wraps – the perforated vinyl coatings are often used for advertisement because they read as though a solid from the one side and are transparent from within.

Here we are playing around with the steel to create cool elements that compliment the theme of this new taproom. The theme is silver and what material does bring to mind? Metallic. So by dressing raw steel with paint – we apply the silver finish and there we have it!

The required outside patio fencing was constructed with very generic square stock. I called it a hamster cage. It was a bland beige when we first arrived and, without notice, the shopping center management had it and the other structural columns lining the canopy/portico painted chocolate brown.

The plan had been to screen it with perforated panels. The darker paint color created a little better contrast and aided in providing a depth of detail to set-off the silver painted perf.

Inside we needed to fill the volume of this most uninteresting dropped ceiling. Already painted black and looking quite voluminous – but not in a good way – the empty space needed some mass. So in one of those restless, middle-of-the-night design sessions of insomnia the idea to create large drums for lighting shades came to mind.

Drums have been in vogue for several years now. Nothing original from the initial use for table lamp shades except their use was broadened to include suspended fixtures and halved for wall sconces. You’ve seen them – hip and happening – and these were quite over-sized and carried the space.

We needed to fill the void of the 12′ high ceilings in this room that had little or no comfort. All hard surfaces, it was a challenge to maintain the silver theme and edginess of a popular taproom while creating comfort. Seemed an oxymoron of a task. But the mass of the perforated drums in three different sizes grouped in the near center of the room did just that.

The addition of multiple warm white lamps inside will be the crowning touch. (photo to be added here in a week or so)

Then a third use of the perforated material came in the idea for a room-divider/hostess station.

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We needed a place to create a point of arrival. Whether manned or unmanned, this unit can have a chalkboard or other signage identifying special events or beer tastings, with a podium in front creates a translucent backdrop to partially cordon off the rest of the space until the customers are greeted and it also can divide the space for special events and table groupings. to accomplish all of those various purposes we designed it with heavy duty commercial casters complete with brakes so that it could be moved easily for its grand height and weight and  placed where needed for the best advantage.

Stay tuned for the complete un-veiling of this cool new interior in the coming weeks. And meanwhile dream of all the fun you can have with perf!

 

Oh the Faces! Spanish Market

November 27, 2016

The sky was grey and the air had a decidedly seasonal still-cool yesterday which called for a cozy indoor activity – offered this weekend in the handsome Hotel Albuquerque, host of the Winter Spanish Market. Yes, the decades old traditional Spanish Market held in Santa Fe outside around the Plaza, on warm summer days in July, has begun a new tradition in Albuquerque in the opposite season indoors. http://www.visitalbuquerque.org/abq365/events/detail/28th-Annual-Winter-Spanish-Market/31793/

The collection of world class artists’ booths beneath the enormous hand-tooled tin chandeliers suspended from the spacious ballroom sparkled with festive illumination and colorful creations.

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A variety of Mariachi bands played to the crowds as the curious and collectors wove in and out of the rows of talented exhibitors.

Fine tin-work, dyed and cut straw assemblies, weavings and jewelry presented an incredible variety of work. Fine crafted furniture and spectacular wall pieces were displayed by master carvers. It was a collection of world-class art and fine craft.

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Crazy interpretations of his beloved traditional retablos are Charlie Carillos commically contemporary interpretations of vintage cars with saints at the wheel. Humor that is received with mixed reviews. But his talent is undisputed. Here he entertains at his booth with his colorful delivery.

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By startling contrast, the rich warm colors and traditional reverence that Catherine Robles-Shaw displays in her incredible carvings and painting techniques, wonderful detail and soulfully expressive faces. Her rich hues are Old World in their sensitivity to tone on tone and dark earthen colors outlined and enhanced with ribbons of gold.

Daughter, Roxanne Shaw-Galindo, a respected santero in her own right has continued to carve her own niche in this exclusive world of bultos, retablos and other manner of fine carving and painting.

The mystic powders carefully sought and gathered from ancient land forms and mineral-rich geology diluted with water and even the precious red of the rare cochineal all contribute to the luminous, translucent colors that read so differently from other media.

And further contrast is Frank  L. Garcia with his primary colors of electric blue, yellow and  red shining off of his wood surfaces. Uplifting and extracting smiles from all who pass his booth.

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Oh the faces!! Each santero has his or her own style.  Like fingerprints, the santeros each have cultivated a unique “look” to their work and expressions of their subjects.  The eyes say so much. Mournful, cheerful, pensive or stony stares, the characters are exclusively their own. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, each artist presents a specifically unique style which conveys incredible personality. These signature expressions, as individual as fingerprints, represent so distinctly each  inimitable artist. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, the methods and materials, each shine with startling individuality!

Here santero Ruben Gallegos poses with Mary Anne Green an avid collector and fond owner of several of Gallegos’ work.

Lee Valdez hunches over his soon-to-be cross carefully carving the rope detail around the edges. Light pencil lines define the decoration that he follows with remarkable precision – and look – he is sporting two pair of glasses stacked atop one another – which he says works just fine.

Behind him displayed on the wall are several other crosses in all manner of carving and decorative woodwork. One piece in particular is a yellow pine cross that is riddled with dark cinnamon colored worm holes – splattered actually – creating a spectacularly natural design. And further marks of nature that Lee captures are a knot hole and adjacent burled wood that he places dead center in the intersection of the cross. The four end pieces are carved from a piece of butternut wood providing the perfect natural contrast to the yellow pine yet complimenting the dark flecks of the worm holes. Quite a find, in this amazing piece of wood he spied in a hardware store, and remarkable sensitivity to isolate and assemble the various pieces to create the whole.

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A striking woman caught my eye. Her thick curly black hair and handsome silver cross strung on a multi-strand necklace of turquoise made a big statement amidst all of the art and drama. Meet Vanessa Baca.

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As we visited briefly I learned that she is a fellow blogger and I am sure it was fate that we met as her foodinbooks.com is a wealth of observations centered around great books and fabulous food within described. She writes with great depth of description and observation AND she breaks it down and teaches you how to prepare that about what you have just read!

Sean Wells painting as we watched, represents her art in her own striking appearance. Dark hair whipped and twisted with a stylish flair and topped with screaming orange flowers.

Wells’ images are equally colorful, happy and festive. If not her fine retablos, You might recognize her Fanciful Day of the Dead wine bottles and famous, collectible Lottery Scratchers! Find her on Etsy!

It was an inspiring day of extraordinary art in a genre that is so historically and regionally rooted with original methods and patient execution paired with the artistic imaginative people who practice and study this fine work. Thanks so much Mary Ann for a rare treat!

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Today YOU can go see this final day of  the 28th Annual Spanish Market 2016! Get over there!