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Barela, Patrociño

A black and white photo of a man carving a piece of wood.

“An integral figure in twentieth-century Hispanic and New Mexican art history, Patrociño Barela rose to art world celebrity in the 1930s, an unlikely prospect for someone of his background. He had left home at age eleven following the death of his mother and sister to travel around the Southwest in search of work. He ended up as a laborer in Denver, Colorado, before getting married and settling in New Mexico in 1930. Asked to reconstruct a damaged wooden bulto (a devotional carving), Barela then began making his own wooden sculptures. His prodigious output soon caught the eye of Russell Vernon Hunter, artist and state director of the WPA, who signed Barela up for the Federal Art Project (FAP). By the summer of 1936 Barela’s sculptures were on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, and in September of that year they appeared in New Horizons in American Art at MoMA. In the wake of the exhibition, Time magazine named Barela its ‘Discovery of the Year.'” – National Gallery of Art

Episode: The Legacy of Patrociño Barela