T H E E L R I T O S A N T E R O
Photos & Text by C. Whitney-Ward
Nicholas Herrera is a force of nature - always creating, always working. You might find him under the hood of a rusted and immovable car perched in his driveway...
Painting a door to his daughter's room replete with a 'gun' doorknob...
"For when she brings home a boyfriend," laughs Herrara.
Fashioning a fab studio desk out of car fenders and a grill...
Or carving a magnificent saint out of cottonwood in his vast and light-filled studio.
Nicholas is a self-taught artist following in the footsteps of his great, great uncle who was a Santero de Muerto, also carving in cottonwood. His family history is rich, tracing back fifteen generations in New Mexico - originally coming from the Canary Islands - and six generations in El Rito and the family ancestral ranch in the mountains. Nicholas lives and works in the same house where he was born.
His work - in 30 museums including the Smithsonian - is powerful and unique combining traditional Santero art with a contemporary twist and commentary.
A room in the original house is like a mini museum...
And, Nicholas built a private chapel to St. Anthony out back where
his mother is buried.
"The history and genealogy of my family is in my art," explains Nicholas, who has just completed a large painted and carved piece - Matachines - The Dancers - for a July showing at LEGENDS GALLERY in Santa Fe.
N I C H O L A S H E R R E R A
El Rito, New Mexico
125 Lincoln Avenue - Santa Fe, NM
Opening - July 6