The National Hispanic Cultural Center announces the opening of “Caminos Distintos: Patrocinio Barela and Edward Gonzales in New Mexico” on February 22, 2008, at 6 p.m. with a free public reception in the Center’s Art Museum.

This exhibition, which runs through August 10, 2008, celebrates the work of New Mexican artists Patrocinio Barela, a Taos sculptor; and Edward Gonzales, an Albuquerque painter and printmaker.  Each artist blazed trails both locally and nationally, helping to dispel stereotypes of Hispanics and their art.

“The National Hispanic Cultural Center is a New Mexico treasure, an incredible visual experience” said Michael Cerletti, Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “This new exhibit is sure to attract new visitors to both the Center and to New Mexico. We encourage all New Mexicans to enjoy the Center and all it has to offer.”

Caminos Distintos: Patrocinio Barela and Edward Gonzales in New Mexico” will also highlight the works of important New Mexico artists and writers inspired by Barela’s creative legacy, including Luis Tapia, Glen Gunderson, James Jimenez and members of Patrocinio Barela’s family who continue to follow in his footsteps.

“This exhibition is very important because it recognizes Hispano Nuevomexicano artists and their contributions at the local and national level,” said Center Visual Arts Director Dr. Tey Marianna. “We are so proud to organize a major exhibit acknowledging these artists and the impact they have had in the arts world.”

Barela was born around 1908 in Bisbee, Arizona and moved to Taos with his father and brother before 1920. He earned a living as an itinerant laborer throughout the Southwest and returned to Cañon, near Taos in 1930. At this same time, Barela began carving his organic unpainted sculptures from local woods. Barela’s works were featured in a pivotal national exhibition, “New Horizons of American Art” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1936. This exposure gained him national recognition and he was hailed as a “true” modern artist.  In 1937 Time Magazine called him “Discovery of the Year.”  While other Nuevomexicanos worked within a strong santero tradition, Barela infused his craft with distinctive personal and imaginary elements, to become one of the area’s most beloved artists. He died in his Taos studio in 1964. Caminos Distintos will feature 55 sculptures by Barela, part of a recent gift to the center’s permanent art collection.

Gonzales was born in Los Angeles in 1947. After returning from serving in the Army and Vietnam, he completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art at the University of New Mexico and later earned a Masters of Public Administration. His first public museum show which featured his water colors and drawings was in 1974. Since then Gonzales has been recognized locally, nationally and internationally for his richly painted images of Nuevomexicano life, culture, landscape and tradition.  Through his work Gonzales separates himself from the mainstream art market and challenges stereotypical depictions of Hispanic New Mexicans. Gonzales has also been a maverick force in helping to gain recognition for contemporary Hispanic artists in New Mexico.  He has been instrumental in challenging New Mexican cultural institutions to include more Hispanic and Chicano artists in their exhibitions. Gonzales was one of the organizers and founders of both Santa Fe’s Contemporary Hispanic Market and the New Mexico State Fair’s Hispanic Art Building at Expo New Mexico. Caminos Distintos will feature 32 paintings and prints by this well-known Nuevomexicano artist. 

This timely exhibition and generous gift marks the 75th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration, the federal programs created during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.  The various New Mexican WPA art projects were instrumental in creating, recording and maintaining cultural aspects and traditions throughout the state. Barela was an artist on the Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943 and Edward Gonzales did a series of paintings influenced by historical photographs taken during the 1930s and 1940s.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Hispanic arts and culture at the state, national and international levels and is a Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.