Sunday, March 8, 2015

Santero, Alcario Otero, Creative Lives Series

Recently on an Arts Crawl through a few Albuquerque galleries organized by my friend Katrine Stewart, we met the New Mexico Santero, Alcario Otero.  As we were admiring a bas relief retablo in the current show at the Albuquerque Museum, Visualizing Albuquerque, a friendly man asked if he might join us to look at this piece.  He shared some insights about the artist and pointed out what he thought was special about it.  We began to ask questions and he shared that he too had a piece in the exhibit.  Sonja, Katrine and I were intrigued and asked to see it. 

On the way to another room, Alcario stopped to explain several other pieces by Santero artists.
This San Isidro was one of my favorites. Sorry that I did not make a note of the artist's name.

Alcario began telling us about his dramatic visit from God when he was called to be a Santero and his disregard of this revelation until the vision came true several months later.  He almost lost his life in the motorcycle accident that he had been shown in the vision.  This sobering event turned his life around and he began to at first paint retablos (two dimensional sacred pictures) and then carve Santos, three dimensional depictions of saints.

At one point, we were all laughing loudly at one of Alcario's stories when the museum guard (not at all amused by our mirth) shushed us.  No respect whatsoever for an exhibiting artist!

 I am sure you would like to see Alcario's carving, which we finally reached...
Sonja captures the moment on her cellphone.


Santo Nino, Salvador Del Mundo, 2011
Don't you just love the face on this Holy Child, Savior of the World?

An email from Katrine confirmed that Alcario, as promised, brought his latest carving for a preview to Katrine's house.  I had asked to see the piece before it was gessoed but I am currently in Colorado.  My daughter, pregnant with twins, and hospitalized with pre-term labor, needs help with Eliza who is two and a half, so I missed my opportunity to see this Santo midway in its creation.
The legend of the Santo Nino is that he was a little boy who helped feed the Spanish soldiers who were fighting the Moors by giving them bread from his basket (that never emptied).  You can see that he also wears Santiago's pilgrim attributes: the shell, hat and pilgrim's staff. 

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