Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of New Mexico

Santa Fe, NM




Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of the New Deal Era


Hundreds of New Mexican Hispana and Hispano artists created art during the 1930s and 1940s for New Deal programs under president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many of these artists had their works shown in major national museums. Yet with few exceptions, the artists' names have been forgotten.

Sin Nombre: Hispana and Hispano Artists of the New Deal Era, opening Sunday, June 6, 1999 at the Museum of International Folk Art, gives long overdue recognition to these artists who contributed to a national artistic legacy. The opening will include an Artist's Award Ceremony from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a reception hosted by the Women's Board from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entrance to the museum on June 6 will be free to the public, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.

"The central goal of Sin Nombre is to recover a portion of American art history and to expose a larger American audience to the significant artistic contributions of Hispana and Hispano artists of early 20th century New Mexico," says Dr. Tey Marianna Nunn, Curator of Contemporary Hispano and Latino collections at the Museum of International Folk Art.

Approximately 200 works will be featured in the exhibition, including paintings on canvas and glass, wood sculpture, three-dimensional polychrome sculpture, has reliefs, furniture, embroidery, weavings and mixed media.

Artists to be represented range from those who were acclaimed and featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1930s to those whose work has been identified as anonymous until now.

One of the artists featured in Sin Nombre is Pedro López Cervántez. Cervántez grew up in Texico, New Mexico, and began drawing as a child. As a teenager he received private lessons in oils. He worked on murals painted for the Public Works of Art Project in 1934, and 10 of his paintings were chosen for the Masters of Popular Painting exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1938. His work also was shown in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) exhibit at the 1939-1940 World's Fair. Despite the national recognition Cervántez received, not one of his paintings hangs in a public museum in New Mexico.

Why have Cervántez and other artists of his era been forgotten? According to Dr. Nunn, settlers from the East Coast perceived Hispanos as "foreign," although they had been in the area for centuries. By extension, their art was labeled "naive," "primitive," "rustic" and "handicraft," reflecting aesthetic and cultural prejudices of the time. " 'Folk art' and 'handicraft' are inadequate terms for the works by the artists included in Sin Nombre, whose art is of the highest caliber," Nunn says.

Sin Nombre will open June 6, 1999 and close September 5, 2000. The exhibition will be accompanied by a number of educational programs, including a lecture series, a film series and a statewide outreach initiative.

Funding for Sin Nombre has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the George Sakier Foundation, McCune Charitable Foundation, the International Folk Art Foundation and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Edward Arcenio Chávez,The Longhorn Trail, egg tempera on panel, 1938, Amarillo Museum of Art.; Margaret Herrera Chávez, Red Roofs, oil on canvas, 194l, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Private collection, Los Griegos, New Mexico; Esquipula Romero de Romero, Black Shawl, oil on board, ca. 1933, Museum of Fine Arts.

The Museum of International Folk Art, located off the Old Santa Fe Trail at Camino Lejo, is part of the Museum of New Mexico, a division of the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe and the Museum of International Folk Art

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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