Spirit Ascendant

Spirit Ascendant : The Art & Life of Patrocino Barela

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Patrocino Barela (1900-1964) worked most of his life as a wood carver in Taos, New Mexico. A renowned santero--an artist who creates images of saints--Barela is recognized by New Mexico's contemporary Hispanic artists as a major source of inspiration. He emerged in 1936 as one of America's important artists when he was featured in a show of Federal Arts Project artists in New York's Museum of Modern Art, the first Mexican-American artist to be so recognized.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 204 pages
  • 230 x 300 x 23.37mm | 1,575g
  • Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • English
  • 139 colour photos & 70 b/w photos
  • 1878610465
  • 9781878610461

Back cover copy

Patrocino Barela emerged in 1936 as one of America's most important artists when he was featured in a show of Federal Art Project artists in New York's Museum of Modern Art. He was the first Mexican-American artist to receive such a high degree of recognition. His carvings in native juniper wood depict deep psychological and mystical insights into the human condition. Barela's art is not easily classified although his carvings display parallels to Romanesque art in their narrative quality and to Modernism in their sophisticated definition of space. There is also the aspect of the primitive, or of Eros, as Barela is in touch with the life force, the deepest level of humanity shared by all peoples and all cultures. In this way his imagery suggests the tribal art of Polynesia, Africa, Mesoamerica, and the pre-Christian Middle East. The artist made his home in Canon, New Mexico, outside of Taos. He never learned much about writing and he spent much of his life working on the farms and ranches of the Rocky Mountain states. He lived and died in poverty. His tragic death by fire took place in the workshop where he had carved some of the most profound art of our time. Driven by the undeniable need to create, Barela's art transcends time and place. His work comes from the roots of the land and Hispano society of New Mexico. The imagery he made, from the erotic to the tragic to the religious, shows individuals bearing the struggles of life. Barela eludes many traps into which the works of lesser artists fall, and achieves penetrating insights into our deepest emotions.
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