"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands
and his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his hands,
his head and his heart is an artist."

Francis of Assisi


A N T H O N Y   E.   M A R T I N E Z
Previously published on Chasing  Santa Fe - 2017

M A S T E R   O F   T H E   S O U T H W E S T

ANTHONY E. MARTINEZ   is  a Native New Mexican, growing up in the Española and Chimayo Valley, just to the north of Santa Fe. While other kids were playing with model airplanes and whatever a 7 or 8-year old did back then, Anthony was falling in love with the Spanish Colonial furniture that he experienced in in his grandfather's home.  And when he saw that these beautiful, hand-carved pieces were being brought to the dump and replaced with store-bought 'modern' furniture, it struck a cord that sent him on a lifelong journey to re-create these treasures - many museum pieces - and educate the world to their beauty and craftsmanship.

For twenty years he exhibited at SANTA  FE'S SPANISH MARKET, winning first place awards in multiple years. He was named Masters of the Southwest - Master Furniture Maker by Phoenix Home and Garden Magazine, and when he looked for a  a gallery to showcase his work,  the prestigious GERALD PETERS GALLERY didn't hesitate to represent him.  

Now, after a nine-year hiatus - he was creating furniture for a private collector - Anthony's back at GERALD PETERS and his show -  that opened this weekend (2017) - is a visual tour de force.  The gallery placed all of his work in a beautiful room just off the main gallery. A large stone fireplace dominates one wall and his chests and trastero cabinets are paired with gorgeous paintings that resonate with the colors and textures of his luminous furniture. It's like stepping into a wonderfully-curated living room. 

T H E   S T U D I O

I stopped by Anthony's studio to photograph his work in progress and get a feel for his art.  What I discovered were his diverse talents - his  before-making-furniture-life - that he shared with me. 

The guitar and music filling the studio was a give away...

He did a stint in Hollywood...

He does photography and paints...

Turning a photograph into a sketch and then
 into a painting or a carving...

Let's see..he was a machinist/designer... 

This delicate silver medallion with a black onyx in the center was hand cut/hand stamped and then applied to a magnificent New Mexico walnut desk.

And he collects ornate antique locks for his furniture...

A photographer's dream...fabulous 'stuff' everywhere...

He makes these charming children's chairs for friends and family..

T H E   W O R K

The 'STAR' of the studio visit was a beautiful chest (caja) he was working on for the GERALD PETERS GALLERY.   


Always the perfectionist...he wasn't happy with the finish and took it down to its raw wood and began again...

"The finish of each piece must be perfect; If I'm not happy with it, I
can't expect my client to be."

 Then begins the many, many layers of color and aging and finishing...

The sun helps in the process...

P E R F E C T I O N !


1005 Paseo de Peralta

Santa Fe, NM 87501



 I V A N    D I M I T R O V
Previously published on Chasing  Santa Fe - 2016

Ivan posing with a photograph of himself as a young
man carving a tree while sitting on an
exquisite chair that he also carved.

Originally from Bulgaria, Ivan began woodworking early-on by crafting his own tools - chisels from discarded screwdrivers; detailing tools from the ribs of old umbrellas. And when he heard of a woodcarver who had recently passed he would head out into the countryside to see if he could buy their tools.  He eventually left Bulgaria, living and carving  in both Paris and London. In 1998 he was sponsored to come to America and wended his way to Santa Fe. 

I T ' S   I N   T H E   E Y E S  &  H A N D S

"These are the hands of a man who has mined coal in un-ventilated shafts 1,500 feet underground, cut hay with a scythe under demanding conditions, and carved entire trees by hand. These are hands that also carve delicate, cascading strands of hair on a woman's head, undulating folds on a saintly robe, lavish garland borders of fruit and flowers."


Carvings from a  commission to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church of Santa Fe.

Every project begins with a drawing before it wends its'
 way onto the waiting wood...



His circa 1800's vice below - 

A mold for making a guitar...Ivan teaches classes at the Community College and he and his talented son both play these beautiful instruments. 


Last year, Ivan participated in the Santa Fe International Folk
Art Market..



t. 505.424.4808 



R A   P A U L E T T E
First published in 2014


"It is not sufficient to see and to know the
 beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it."


To say that I spent my birthday in a cave conjures up visions of the Flintstones. But my BIRTHDAY CAVE  was magical - a carved sandstone wonderland created by a reclusive, brilliantly-talented artist - RA PAULETTE - whose passion for caressing rock into curvaceous beauty is one of New Mexico's best kept secrets.

I invited friends for an afternoon of champagne and hors d'oeuvres and to share the splendor of this secret place.

T H E   C A V E

Over the past 25-years, Paulette has carved 14 sandstone caves - he calls them his wilderness shrines - and each is a celebration of his constancy and his passion for WONDER.

"Most of the wonder that I feel is in the actual making of the caves," he said on a recent interview with CBS News. "Once they're made, 
I move on, if I want fresh wonder."

This cave is on the Northern New Mexico land owned by Architectural Ceramicist SHEL NEYMARK who created all the gorgeous interior glass lighting (yes there's electricity) and tile work tucked beautifully into the sandstone eddies and swirls.

The bathroom -  there's hot and cold running water - is amazing. The tiled tub by Shel is a tour de force beckoning to be filled and enjoyed.

The kitchen nook boasts the only movable furniture.

All of the other seating has been carved into the sandstone like ancient thrones - crowns optional.

And windows and skylights are everywhere bringing the outside in.

View from the upstairs bedroom where I spent the night after all my guests had wended their way home (Details on how you can rent this sumptuous cave/hide-away below). 


One of my birthday guests - ARTIST ANGEL WYNN 

Wood circle in the middle of the floor in the main salon is a drum.

A working kiva fireplace anchors one end of the room.

cww photo above

View of the open loft bedroom above carved mirror of main salon.


Actually, it's me photographed (wearing a pristine white sheet) by Angel for her series - GHOST DANCE - SPIRITS AND ANGELS -

See her work now at 7ARTS Gallery on Lincoln St. - Santa Fe

Shel outside his glass/ceramic studio just down from the cave.

Thank you Shel & Liz for taking such good care of your beautiful cave and sharing in my birthday.

This Embudo, New Mexico cave/hide-away - 1hr. north of Santa Fe along the Rio Grande  - is a perfect romantic get-away or a very spiritual setting for a day or evening retreat.
 Contact Shel @ 505.579.4432 to see if he's still renting it out.



"Being in this beautiful cave was like climbing inside a Pablo Neruda  poem."


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