D A V I D   M I C H A E L   K E N N E D Y

. M A S T E R . A T .T H E . F I N E . A R T . O F . P H O T O G R A P H Y

Photo by C. Whitney-Ward

David Michael Kennedy lives and works in El Rito, New Mexico, a blip on the map that is off the beaten path and a sanctuary for a bevy of remarkable artists. He invited me to his home/studio and  introduced me to two other amazing artists who will share this post... 

DMK's platinum/palladium prints are hauntingly beautiful, capturing the essence of his subject(s), everything from a weather-beaten car, the ethereal movements of a Native American dancer, the true grit of Bob Dylan - to the quiet eloquence of Isaac Stern. And, he does it all on film with finesse and grace and then creates magic in his darkroom.

Photos courtesy DMK website

In the 70's and 80's  David worked in advertising in New York, photographing a portfolio of celebrities - Bruce Springsteen, Yo Yo Ma, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Cliff, Loren Maazell  - just to drop a few names. Then in 1987 he decided to follow his dream and  settle in Northern New Mexico where he's firmly ensconced - save for a two- year photographic journey  across America in an Airstream trailer. His images From the Road are raw and real, capturing a rapidly vanishing way of life. 

Pentecostal Minister Sister Reiddie Harper's larger-than-life portrait makes a quiet statement  in DMK's living room.  Which brings me to his home and studio. The house  is really two - a 200-year old house which was one of the first structures in El Rito, and a newer addition. David took me on a tour and I snapped away.

                You enter through a large gallery/studio filled with current work - every surface warm and inviting.

As you meander through the rest of the house,  his favorite prints and belongings take pride of place in every room.  

His handmade kitchen table.

 Henry who was along for the two-year road trip.

Upstairs is his darkroom where the magic happens.

David teaches Master Classes in landscape, portraiture and Platinum/Palladium printing. His vintage airstream is outback and available if an artist would like to be in residence for a week or so. David's work is on display locally at Legends Gallery,   and his work is coveted by an impressive list of collectors. Five of his photographs are being considered by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for their permanent collection.





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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.

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.

His work -  in 30 museums including the Smithsonian - is powerful and unique combining traditional Santero art with a contemporary twist and commentary. 

"The history and genealogy of my family is in my art," explains Nicholas.

N I C H O L A S   H E R R E R A

El Rito, New Mexico


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Photos & Text by C. Whitney-Ward

When  LARRY SPARKS, a former Santa Fe builder/designer retired and bought 14 acres of land in El Rito, New Mexico, he immediately started building with passion. The result? A wonderfully-eccentric compound of  structures encased in licence plates, found objects and vintage signage.

Featured on the cover of the Feb issue of World of Interiors Magazine, Sparks' outsider art buildings are a labor of creative whimsy. His first building went up in 1991 and he's been at it  ever since. "They are a canvas in themselves," notes Sparks.  "I'm trying to do something that is aesthetically cool using re-cycled, biodegradable stuff."

Before there was inside plumbing, he built this snazzy outhouse.

When he built his house bathroom, he tried his hand at stained glass.

And even built a separate house for a spa/sauna.

Let's see. There's a main house, an outhouse, a spa/sauna house, a guest house, a studio, and another studio/retreat house. There's even a sculpture garden filled with his found object assemblages.

All in all, wonderful stuff inside and out.

Why El Rito?

"I like to be able to see 60 miles in a couple of directions.
 It's rural and beautiful."

I'd say that Larry Sparks has found his perfect roost. 


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