Welcome to
Collectors Corner!

 Ed Sandoval Gallery's Newsletter

102-B Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
(575) 770-6360
Vigas! A Story of Man vs. Logs (and Mules)
I’ve written about building adobe homes throughout the Southwest and elsewhere when I had my own construction company (see story here ). We built pueblo-style homes, which of course includes the use of vigas (wooden beams) to carry the weight of the flat roof.
Vigas Just Placed on the Walls of My House in 2016
Today, if you are building a pueblo-style home, you call up the local saw mill and order some vigas. They will arrive on a long, flat-bed trailer, and a guy with a crane will hoist each one up and place it on top of the walls. NOT SO when I was young – you had to hike into the forest, chop down the trees with an ax, strap them to mules and haul them out. After that, you peeled off the bark with a blade (dangerous business). I found some old photos recently, and I thought it would be fun to share the story of me logging for (and peeling) vigas by hand.
My dad taught me how to build, and that included going with him into the forest, finding the tallest, straightest pine trees, chopping them down and hauling them out. I can assure you…this was NOT fun. We used Jim Getsinger’s mules, and they were as stubborn and difficult as you would expect old mules to be. I got the nearly impossible job of trying to convince them to pull, which they did NOT want to do because those logs were heavy. 
Me Hauling Pine Trees out of the Forest to Make Vigas (Circa 1974)
Me Hauling Logs Again with the Mules
Contrary to what you might think, you try to find dead trees when harvesting vigas. That's because they're already seasoned/cured (dried). Cutting down live trees will produce "green" vigas, meaning the wood still has water in it. If you put up green vigas and plaster around them, they'll eventually shrink. You'll have unattractive, gaping holes between the vigas and plaster.

Harvesting vigas by hand is laborious to say the least, but they are essential for creating the beautiful adobe-and-timber architecture that makes the Southwest (New Mexico in particular) so unique and charming. I tried to remember that as I wrestled with the mules – the effort would be worth it…
I'm fairly certain the pictures of me hauling logs were taken when I was about 28 years old. I was married (to Vicki) with two young children (Tammy and Bryan). After finishing college, I decided to build us a traditional home in Nambe - a huge undertaking, but I was determined to do it. So, I borrowed the mules and off I went.

Getting timber is pretty awful, but the next stage - hand peeling them - is even worse. Imagine sitting outside with the end of a log between your legs. You then take a blade that has two handles (a draw knife), stretch it out in front of you, lay it on the bark, and draw the blade back towards you to "peel" the bark. My daughter Tammy reminded me that when she was little, maybe seven or eight...the blade slipped. I peeled about an inch-wide strip of skin/flesh off of my leg, all the way down to the bone. I had forgotten, but she remembered because it traumatized her to see a long, wide strip of her daddy's leg waving about.

Why peel them in the first place? The main reason is bugs. There have been cases of people using unpeeled vigas infested with some kind of bug, like pine beetles, and the landscaped pines that the homeowner had planted all around the main house died.

Once they're peeled, dried and placed on the walls, the vigas support  latillas that are placed crosswise. Latillas are often peeled aspen branches but can be cedar or other types of wood. Old homes (centuries old) often had layers of brush or soil as well.

I highly recommend that if you need vigas, you call a saw mill. They are just as beautiful and sturdy as the trees in the forest, but probably 99.99% less painful to acquire. AND, you won't have to deal with mules.
Bryan and Tammy at the Construction Site of our Nambe House (circa 1975)
VERY Old Split Cedar Latilla and Viga Ceiling in a Historic Ranchos de Taos Home
Later, Placing Vigas in a Taos Home I Built
Finished Nambe Home for My Young Family
Annual Pilgrimage to Chimayo
Each year during Easter weekend, tens of thousands of people embark on a pilgrimage to  El Santuario de Chimayo . This year, the walk is on Good Friday, April 19.
Starting from Taos, Santa Fe or other cities and villages, the devout walk dozens and even hundreds of miles. They walk to express their faith, to give thanks and prayers for themselves or for loved ones. This tradition has been going on for hundreds of years, and it is humbling to see good people walking along paved and dirt roads towards Chimayo, sometimes barefoot and sometimes bearing crosses that they will leave at the church.

When I was a boy, our family walked from Nambe to Chimayo, which is about 7-8 miles. I should say that my mom, siblings and cousins walked...dad did not. He always said that "someone" needed to drive the car to come get us.... That was his excuse anyway. I can't remember if grandma walked or not, but knowing her, she probably did.
For more information on the pilgrimage, click HERE .
Featured Paintings

To inquire or to request a high-resolution photograph, please contact Ed at 575-770-6360 or  edsandovalart@gmail.com .
NEW: "Sunlight on the Chile Field" (24" x 30")
NEW: "El Tempo De Musica" (30" x 30")
"Distant Canyon" (30" x 36")
"Road to El Salto" (30" x 36"")
Weekend Getaway: Silver City, NM
Silver City , in the Southwest corner of NM next to the Gila National Forest, is a wonderful getaway gem! This old-time mining town is bustling with art, festivals and a historic district with quaint architecture, restaurants, music and antique malls. Every art gallery has a red circle with the word "ART" on the sidewalk in front of it, so you can stroll along and not miss anything. We stayed at the Bear Creek Motel & Cabins nestled under giant ponderosa pines in Pinos Altos, just 7 miles north of Silver City. What a wonderful place! We got an entire cabin with two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room and a wood-burning fireplace for about $159 per night - incredible!

If you go there, you can't miss the opportunity to dine or have drinks at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House . Opened in the 1860's, you'd swear from the outside that it's abandoned and part of a ghost town. But walk inside....we've never been more impressed! The ambiance of an old-time saloon and parlor is overwhelming in a fabulous way, and the live music was awesome. We just kept looking around thinking "How cool is this place???" Truly historic, authentic and charming. I met a wonderful older lady who told us all kinds of stories about her unique life - too much fun!
Opened in the 1860's, The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House is a "Must See" Destination!
Closeup of The Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House. This Place Rates 10+ on the "Cool Factor"
Our Cabin at Bear Creek Motel & Cabins
Meeting Fabulous Folks at the Buckhorn!
Gail Douglas in Front of "Milagro"
"Milagro" Painted in 2007
Featured Collectors: Gail & Barbara Douglas

I really enjoy reading Ed’s newsletter, and I wanted to share my memories of meeting him about ten years ago, and helping get some of his art to Texas.

In 2009, Ed was represented by a gallery in Ft. Worth and needed to send two original paintings to them. We had purchased the painting in my photo (“Milagro”), and Ed remembered that we lived in the Dallas area and traveled back and forth on a regular basis. He called and asked if I would transport the two paintings and drop them off at the Ft. Worth gallery.

I was very happy to help, picked up the well packaged paintings and delivered them safe and sound. What pleased me was Ed’s trust that all would go well after only knowing one another for a short time.

Over these past ten years, Ed has been of help to Barbara and I by speaking at the Red River book club and contributing to several of our worthy causes. Thanks Ed for your friendship and keep entertaining us with your nostalgic and informative newsletter.

Gail and Barbara Douglas, Dallas, TX, and Taos, NM!
Would you like to be a featured collector?
If so, please send your personal story and photo(s) to edsandovalart@gmail.com.
Ed Sandoval Gallery  
 102-B Paseo Del Pueblo, Taos, NM 87571
www.edsandovalgallery.com | (575) 770-6360 | edsandovalart@gmail.com