Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things.
 (St. John Paul Letter to Artists, 1999)

was born in New Mexico where her father's family has deep roots. When her grandfather, William R. Dobson, came to New Mexico from Colorado, he married Emilia Garcia, a very talented self-taught painter whose family had been sheep ranchers for several generations.

On her mother's side, Grace is Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian. Because her maternal grandmother was an Orthodox Christian, icons were part of Grace's growing up. Because of this,  Grace was inspired  to become an  iconographer as well as a santera. "There are a lot of things in common between icons and retablos". 

After a pilgrimage to the famous medieval shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Grace became  interested in her own Spanish art and culture. Wanting to explore this in depth  she majored in Spanish Literature in college and then did graduate work in Art History.

The cultural awakening led Grace to become a self-taught santera. She says that her ancestors on both sides have given her a spiritual as well as a cultural legacy.

San Pasquel

Her use of pastels in most of her art, makes her unique in the world of santeras.  Grace's work is found in private collections across the United States and abroad.

MARILYN MOYES live in the art community of Kayenta in southern Utah. Marilyn started making “functional art” cabinets with her husband John as a hobby. John is a master carpenter, grandson of David Huges, a famous wood carver from England. He is responsible for the wood, furniture and carvings that Marilyn paints on.

San Pasqual

St. Frances of Rome

After retiring from nursing, Marilyn began to explore painting on wood by herself. After she had requests for Frida Kahlo and the Our Lady of Guadalupe icons to be placed on John’s cabinets, Marilyn was inspirated to make retablos. She and John had been collecting Hispanic religious folk art  for many years, so were familiar with its style. Marilyn then began to add milagros (miracles) to the garments of her patron saints to add texture to the saint’s picture and carry on another tradition. In Mexico, a person may pin a milagro onto the garment of a patron saint’s image to remind the saint of the suppllicant’s special favor.

I love her subtle use of colors and also giving us unusual saints, such as St. Frances of Rome, patroness of Benedictine Oblates .
MM- St. Francis

comes from a long line of artists on her mother’s side of the family, with talents ranging from painting to ceramics and metal work. She began painting devotional art in 1995. Though she began working with acrylics, she switched to natural homemade pigments after being taught by Charlie Carrillo, a Santa Fe santero who rediscovered the techniques of the early New Mexico santeros. Ellen carves all her own wood for both retablos and bultos, and also prepares her own gesso and paints from natural materials.

Holy Family

She has won many awards for her work and has shown in many exhibitions.

Together with her husband, Mark,  she created Santos de Santistevan, a cooperative and creative partnership dedicated to creating devotional art. Their motto is, “Connecting people with their faith through art.”  She and her husband are heads of the altar servers’ ministry at their church.

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