Photograph of Christine Carey.


Christine Montaño Carey

Spanish Colonial Art, Tin Art, Retablo Art, Commercial Art, Fine Art





By Christine Montaño Carey

The early Spanish settlers that came to New Mexico and Southern Colorado brought with them the two most important necessities to their new world. Those things were, their faith and their traditions. In those early remote settlements, their dwellings were first priority along with a place for worship. The small but remote villages were usually centered around a chapel or capilla, and were decorated with home made retablos and bultos (statues) carved from native pine or aspen. The only materials available to them were what the land provided. Trees, minerals, plants and animals were all the natural resources they had. Thus, they cut the lumber for the retablo and made gesso, ( the white coating used on the wood to create a canvas) out of natures bounty. The gesso was made from rabbit skin glue and calcium carbonate or gypsum and or ground marble dust. The pigments were made with ground plants and or minerals, lamp black and for certain colors like red, out of ground bugs (cochineal). The final coating or varnish, to preserve the painted image was made from pinon sap from the trees. These early methods are still used today with formulas handed down through the generations.

Retablos were a very important part of the faith that was brought with these early Spanish settlers. They were used not only as a decorative element in the churches and homes, but as a teaching tool to impart the stories of the bible as well as the lives of the saints and angels which were a source of strength, comfort and a connection to their spiritual being. Research on the saints and knowledge of the bible is intricate to the creation of retablos. This is a necessary first step in the work of a true santero/santera.

Christine Montaño Cary Selected Retablo Art
Click on image for larger view

Retablo Art La Conquistadora.
La Conquistadora
Retablo Art Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Retablo Art St. Joseph.
St. Joseph
Retablo Art San Rafael.
San Rafael
Retablo Art Holy Family.
Holy Family
Retablo Art Saint Francis.
St. Francis
Retablo Art San Pasqual in kitchen.
San Pasqual
Retablo Art San Pasqual with farm animals.
San Pasqual
Retablo Art Santo Nino de Atocha.
Santo Nino de Atocha
Retablo Art Santo Nino de Praga (infant of Prague).
Santo Nino de Praga (Infant of Prague)
Retablo Art Dona Sebastiana.
Dona Sebastiana


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