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New Website!

January 23, 2012

I am in the process of rebuilding my blog in a new format that will give me more flexibility.  You can get to it with my main URL, www.DelgadoArts.com.  But, I thought I should put a note here in case people stumble across the old site here.  THanks for visiting!  Lots of great info on the Spanish Colonial Arts here in Albuquerque.


Jason’s Tin Public Art Box!

August 26, 2011

Congratulations to Jason who had his design for a rehabilitated newspaper box selected!  The newspaper, “The Alibi” is our popular free hip circular sprinkled  about town.  Excitingly, this box will be placed in the same block as Tintero Gallery so Jason can visit often.  Too cute.

Jason took the old metal box and covered it in tin.  He accented it with classic scallop rosettes.  But, the best part is the hand-stamped “alibi” lettering true to the original location and font.  Nicely done!

Click here to read the article where you can see his and other finished boxes.


New Tinwork & Retablo Classes Now!

August 17, 2011

Jason is finally ready to start teaching classes at Tintero Workshop & Gallery.  We have started adding classes and free lectures to the calendar.  We’re creating several avenues to allow you to register and to help us get the word out.  We’re going to try to offer one free lecture each weekend and at least two classes!  We also have Laguna Pueblo potter in the queue for classes and lectures!


  1. Aug 20 9AM-12PM TINWORK Workshop  by Jason $75/$55 Seniors.
  2. Aug 20 1:30PM-2PM LECTURE Our Lady of Guadalupe Free to public.
  3. Aug 20 2PM-4PM RETABLO Painting Introduction by Sean $55/$45 Seniors
  4. Aug 24 6PM-9PM  TINWORK Workshop  by Jason $75/$55 Seniors.


  • TBD Making Traditional Gesso
  • Oct 29 Doña Sebastiana vs Dia De Los Muertos
  • TBD Holiday Ornaments
Jason working with Sandias

Doña Sebastiana | Lady Sebastian

August 15, 2011

She is an unusual figure in the Spanish Colonial realm.  She is not prayed to or revered.  She is more a symbol of mortality and penance, a bleak reminder of our fragile and sinful state.  She is the only “Muerto” image allowed in traditional Spanish Market.  The colorful and playful muerto images of Mexico are actually a completely different family of imagery.  They derive from the celebration of All Saints Day (or All Souls Day), a celebration created to help the Catholic Church assimilate existing Aztec celebrations of the dead.  Much like The Death Card of the Tarot, the gleeful images of the Mexican culture actually symbolize life, change and spirit.  Originally, the morbid mesoamerican native celebrations, dating back thousands of years, would revolve around the skull of the deceased, often inserting flowers (especially Marigolds) into the eye sockets to reflect the life that once was and the hope that they might visit again to give guidance from beyond.  The Aztec figure known as the “Lady of the Dead,” presided over such celebrations.  The modern celebration is known as “Dia de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead.”

Catrina Image

Then, in the turn of the century, the artist José Guadalupe Posada, created an image of a skeleton wearing the garments and hat of a sophisticated lady.  The skeleton lady, known as “Catrina,” became the inspiration for the irreverent images you see today riding motorcycles, drinking tequila or dressed like Elvis, celebrating the life essence of the person that once owned that body.  The body of animated skeleton figures are often referred to as “calavera” (spanish for “skull”) or “muerto” (spanish for “death”) imagery.

Death Cart bulto by Rubel Jaramillo

In sharp contrast, Doña Sebastiana is a dark reminder of our humanity.  Originally, the Penitente brothers, a group of monks that were known for public acts of penance, would create a wooden cart, ridden by a skeleton woman also made of wood with jointed limbs.  The cart and woman could be nearly life sized.  The woman would often have human hair adorning her head.  She might also be seen holding a bow and arrow.  The Brothers would fill the cart with rocks and pull it on the makeshift roads about town as a demonstration of penance.

San Sebastian retablo by Vicente Telles

San Sebastian retablo by Vicente Telles

There is only speculation as to the source of her name, but one generally accepted theory is that the bow, a common instrument of death at that time, was simply a reminder of our mortal state, as the Grimm Reaper carries and sickle.   Perhaps, when onlookers observed the death figure, they made an association with Saint Sebastian (San Sebastian) who is shown impaled by multiple arrows, hence the name, “Lady Sebastian.”

She has become a figure of superstition.  Although explicitly not prayed to or revered, folk remedy might include calling upon her for healing and even in help finding lost items or protection from kidnapping.

Mostly shown in bulto form and referred to as the Death Cart, I think she is a fascinating part of the unique local history and through painting her image, I have the opportunity to educate people on yet another important difference between New Mexican art imagery and Mexican art imagery.

Spanish Market 2011 is the fist time I have painted her image.  It was the last image I decided to paint just before our Preview items had to be submitted.  I was very much enjoying getting into the anatomy of the skeleton.  And, since she was such a simple image in terms of iconography and color, I focused on detailing her with fine brush work and sgraffito.  I had painted her on a large board and the possibility of translating all of that detail onto a small retablo piqued my interest.

Doña Sebastiana copyright ©2011 Sean Wells

Doña Sebastiana copyright ©2011 Sean Wells

The large ones, I had painted on a plain board with an arched top.  I thought this recalled the simple headstones of local cemeteries.  When I was done, I found the image somewhat static.  My Dad happened to be staying with me, so I asked him if he had any suggestions of items I could add.  He said he liked when I would incorporate architectural elements (he ought to since he’s the one who covered the bill for my BSArch).  I thought that was a great suggestion so I created an arched opening around the figure to recall a mausoleum.  I also thought it was important to include a hint of the actual Death Cart in the background to help me tell the complete story (it appears in the small board).  There are lots of wonderful details that I like in that image including the obsidian tip on the arrow in her hand, the brass buckle holding the quiver to her chest and the accuracy of the anatomy.  But, my favorite element was the wispy sheer tattered gown I donned on her.  I have one clay that has a wonderful translucent quality when it dries and I had the thought that I could paint it right over my detailed skeletal painting to create a gown.  It was a scary moment, but it worked perfectly.  The colors ran a tiny bit, but just added to her ethereal and eerie mystique.  I talked with a couple of the artists about how I’m too chicken to use the traditional piñon varnish sealer for fear that I will smear my painting.  But, they had recommended that I use gum arabic as a binder with my pigments.  It gives just enough adhesion to allow you to topcoat items without smearing.  But, I’m still not sure if I will use it.  I really like the purity of simply using clay and water.

It is a fun and challenging image to create.


Reflecting on Spanish Market 2011

August 11, 2011

Jason & Sean at Spanish Market 2011

Well, Jason and I just experienced our first Spanish Market as a collaborative team and it was a ride!  I actually got to speak on the Spanish Colonial Arts Society promotional video and one of the questions was “what makes this year’s Market special to you?”  I said that although it was my first Market, I was most excited to be publicly showing the works that my brother and I have created together.  On Friday night, each artist has the opportunity to show three favorite items for award consideration.   For our collaborative piece, we showed our Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe piece.  At first, it was a bit of an empty feeling to not receive any recognition for our work.  It’s not like we were expecting to win an award, but it was strange to put your best work out there and not get any commentary back.  But, the magic of Preview night is that you get to display your best work, stand with it, answer questions  and hear from the public.  We had the opportunity to hear directly from patrons, fellow artists and admirers.  They loved hearing our stories on the collaborative process and artistic vision.  They were genuinely impressed by our first major work together and encouraged us to continue on.  It was a perfect culmination to a year of hard work.  Of course, being able to peruse the amazing works of the other Market artists was very exciting as well.

Me & Alcario OteroBut, my favorite Preview moment had to be when senior retablo artist Alcario Otero recognized me from my show, New Mexican Santera!  He shook my hand and complimented me on the show.  I was just so flattered that he watched and really excited that he was supportive of the message of the show.  He commended me on creating the show.  We talked about show ideas.  And, he even asked me tips to minimize bubbles in the gesso.

Byron Martinez with his award winning piece

I also got a chance to share some Preview night jitters with some of my other first year artists, who I now count among my friends.  I was especially proud of my freshmen classmates, Byron Martinez (bulto carver) and Gene Gurule (tinsmith) who both took awards for their work.  Byron created a beautiful unpainted bulto of La Conquistadora.  He really captured her hands.

Gene Gurule with JasonJason and I spent some time with Gene, who explained to us that the reason he was there that night was because he was inspired after having my Grandmother, Angeline Delgado Martinez demonstrate in his classroom more than 30 years ago.  He was moved by her work and recalls many details of the encounter.  He continued to practice tin after the demonstration, but it took him nearly three decades to feel his work was worthy of Spanish Market.

Me & EricI was also inspired by the strength of returning bulto artist Eric Gonzales who had just lost his mother the Monday before Market.  He dedicated this Market to her.  He was very grateful to be at Market after a long stint away and reminds us all of the deeper meaning behind all of our work.

Then, during Market, the following Saturday and Sunday, we had dozens of people who recognized the Guadalupana from preview night.  It was nice that she was memorable among so many fine works.

But, I was pleasantly surprised to get a lot of positive feedback on a piece that I had done at the 11th hour.  I decided I wanted to submit one more piece to Preview for consideration in the small retablo category.  I had a small board on hand and had been working on an image of Doña Sebastiana.

Doña Sebastiana copyright © 2011 Sean Wells

(She is a fascinating figure—I will do a separate write up on her.   You can read more about my execution of her image in that article).  It was that image that garnered the most interest in my work at our booth over market weekend.  I would never have imagined that we would have collectors lining up at 7:30AM (you cannot start officially selling at Market until 8AM).  But, we did!  We made a quick hand-scribbled sign-up sheet and soon had several names.  The first couple had admired my Doña Sebastiana and La Conquistadora (the one I use for all of my marketing) and bought both!  It was  wonderful way to start Market.  Better yet, they allowed me to display the purchased items throughout the day while they enjoyed Market.  I was able to take several custom orders off the small retablo.  That little image ended up making a good Market into a great Market!  Jason just laughed—“Didn’t you just whip that up on Tuesday?”

Jason and I were so swamped the first day just talking with people about our work that we rarely got a chance to demonstrate.  On the second day, we did get to do a bit of demonstration and we really didn’t get a chance to do any visiting with fellow artist as we normally would.  But, that was certainly a good problem.  We saw many distant relatives, old school chums , family and friends.  We made some new friends of patrons and admirers.  You can view our gallery on our Facebook page, “Dos Artisanos.”  People were very excited to see a brother-sister doing collaborative work together and many actually said it was imperative that we continue our work.  They were also verbally thankful that we made such an effort to demonstrate the techniques, share history and invite questions.

I’ve helped Jason in the demonstration booth for many years.  In doing so, I have always tried to incorporate some graphics that tell some of our family history in tin.

Jason goofing in Angelina's crown

This year, since our grandmother, Angelina wasn’t up to attending Market with us (she’s 91), I told her I would bring her in spirit and made a giant banner of a photo I found of her posing with the 1944 Fiesta Court.  She was one of the princesses that year along with Peaches (the queen, we believe) and Viola. But, the best part about the presentation was that when she found out about the banner, she allowed me to  display the original crown she wore that she had designed and constructed from tin and accented with rhinestones.  People loved the banner, but nearly applauded when I would show the crown, often donning it or allowing people I thought might truly appreciate the experience to wear it themselves.  It was funny how many times I had to remind the husband or Dad that this was a real photo op!  I think every girl wants to wear a crown, especially a real one worn by a real princess!  Some shy visitors would turn me down, but most were tickled.  Several women said they had never worn a crown before.  Most broke into an impromptu regal wave.  Anyway, I love giving people ways to connect to the history, so it was a great vehicle to bring them into the story.

Martha Varoz Ewing implored me to attend the Sunday Morning Market Mass at the Saint Francis Basilica.  I dragged my feet thinking logistically, we would not have anyone to watch the booth.  Jas and I decided to go with it and left the booth unattended and went to Mass.  I’m so glad we did–It was the highlight of Market!  The artists are invited to bring a piece in to have it blessed.  Jason insisted I bring our giant Our Lady of Guadalupe collaborative.  He said it looked like Our Lady was walking around with legs because it was so big, no one could see me!  And, there was Jason with his delicate hollow tin cross which weighed about 2 ounces.  I teared up as we entered the Church in procession with the other artists and artworks.  We placed the art at the front altar.  I managed to sneak in my Grandmother’s crown to be blessed as well.  I thought she would appreciate that (and she was).   We listened to the bilingual mass.  It was just so moving.  The priest talked about how we were using our gifts to honor the Lord. Then, after the blessings, we gathered our pieces and processed out of the church and around the plaza.  I saw Martha and thanked her for encouraging me to attend.  She confessed to tearing up every time she attends.  Our Dad was filming for the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, so we made it a point to turn our artworks and walk slowly whenever we saw his camera!

Jason and I had an excellent Market.  Although it would have been icing on the cake to have sold our two large pieces (currently available at Tintero Workshop & Gallery), we had a great showing.  We are feeding on the energy you all gave us and are fired up to get started for next year.  We will be working on ways to find other avenues and outlets for our work in the meantime.

Jason demonstrates to on-lookersThank you to all the patrons, friends and family that came to show your support!  It is somewhat a labor of love, so to get encouragement for us to continue this work  means a lot to both of us.  We will look forward to Spanish Market 2012 and may even try entering some new categories this year!


60th Annual Spanish Market July 30-31

July 27, 2011

Come join nearly 200 Spanish Colonial artisans on the historic Santa Fe Plaza July 30-31 for Spanish Market!  Jason and I will be in booth 164 near the southwest corner of the Plaza, across from the 5 & Dime.  To get the word out, we have created a somewhat elaborate mini-marketing campaign.

New Mexican Ad 2011We will have an ad in the Santa Fe New Mexican official Market newspaper insert.  I designed the ad myself.  It’s kind of wacky, but I really wanted to do something fun and festive and get away from the gallery feel.  The design is inspired by the old Sideshow posters.  The ad in the paper is black and white due to budget restrictions.

We’ve also created a video invitation that will serve as a landing page for anyone who visits our new website, www.DosArtisanos.com.  Technically, “artisanos” should read “artesanos.”  But, the ‘artesanos’ URL was not available and the misspelled ‘artisano’ is widely accepted around here and we really liked the wunderkin siblings idea–it suits our “let’s have some fun” attitude.

The promotional video was shot by our Dad and the landing page includes a link to the outtakes which is highly entertaining.

Dos Artisanos Video Landing Pageclick on image above to view our video invitation or see outtake reel.

Dos Artisanos websiteclick on image above to visit our new website.

The new website is just really a front door to our individual sites that promotes us as siblings and 5th generation artisans.  The left column is all Sean links and the right is Jason links.  You will find links to our online storefronts, a page on our videos and DVDs and links to our personal art blogs.  If you click on the stamp, you can send us an email  Or click on the Tintero images to get more information on Jason’s workshop and gallery.  I’ve also just added links to our professional Facebook pages where you can get snapshots of works in progress and event reminders.  Enjoy poking around!

click on image above to download the official Spanish Market brochure

The brochure includes artist name sand booth numbers along with some other goodies.  I hesitate to say “I designed it” since I completed it so quickly.  But, I’m proud to say I conceptualized and assembled it.

One of our family members, the talented oil painter Damian Gonzales will be showing at the Contemporary Market which happens simultaneously with Traditional Market and runs up Lincoln Street.

Click here for more logistical information on Spanish Market from the new Spanish Colonial Arts Society website (which I also designed).

Well, we hope to see you there!  And, remember to support your local artisans!