Connecting with the past
Spanish art arrived in New Mexico with the early explorers from Spain during Coronado's 1540-42 explorations. The expedition included a landscape painter named Cristóbal de Quesada.
New Mexico's distinctive Spanish arts tradition continues to flourish today. At Spanish Market, one of Santa Fe's biggest events, artists display bultos (carved and painted devotional figures) and retablos that they create using the same techniques and materials employed by their ancestors. Artists at the market carry on other traditional Spanish art forms as well, including tinwork, weaving, and straw appliqué.
Many of the market's artists live in the isolated mountain villages around Santa Fe―especially along the High Road (State 76) to Taos. Here in this bastion of Hispanic culture, a creative tradition unlike any other in the United States endures. The village of Cordova has evolved its own distinctive carving style and is renowned for unpainted, somewhat abstract carvings made from aspen and juniper. Some artists sell from showrooms at their homes, advertised only by handwritten signs on the roadside.