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 Ed Sandoval Gallery's Newsletter

102-B Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
(575) 770-6360
Grandma and the Gypsies!
Grandma Luisita Rivera (1871–1956)
"Tortilla Lady" isn't grandma, but I see the resemblance by the wood stove!
Happy 2019! Over the holidays, I was reflecting on family…I suppose we all do…and kept thinking back to my boyhood days with my grandma. I've written about her before. She was a strong, spirited little woman, a curandera (native healer) who kept herbs (medicine) hanging from her kitchen ceiling, and to stop the rain, she would go outside with a large knife and stab the sky to “cut the clouds.” ( Click to read )

Grandma and I shared a close connection - I always wanted to be with her. One of my first memories was when I was about four years old. I was watching her cook on an old wood-burning stove and the delicious smell coming from the kettle was making my hungry. When she left the room, I wanted to see what was in that pot!

I pulled a wooden chair over to the stove, climbed up, leaned forward to peer under the lid and slipped. My stomach came down on that sizzling hot, black metal. She raced in to find me screaming on the floor and immediately applied one of her odd-smelling, greasy ointments. I had been badly burned, and that scar remained on my stomach well into adulthood.

Another time, I got a bicycle for Christmas. It’s one of the few presents I remember, probably because we didn’t get many gifts growing up. I was older then, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and we were living in Los Alamos during the week - we would return to the Nambe farm on the weekends. One day, I wanted to go see grandma, but dad wouldn’t take me. I can’t remember why I was so determined…but I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. So I got on my bicycle and RODE there, which is rather insane. In a car, it’s about 45 minutes down a winding mountain road from Los Alamos to Nambe, but I peddled the whole way. It took me the better part of the day to get there.

When I stepped into her kitchen, hot and completely worn out, she looked at me, smiled and said to me in Spanish, "I’m so happy to see you! But how did you get here? Your mom and dad are going to be worried about you.”
For me, grandma’s kitchen was my “happy place.” I would sit at the table and draw while watching her cook, speaking with her in Spanish (she didn’t speak any English) and listening to her stories. One story captured my attention and imagination because it was so colorful and dramatic – the time the Gypsies came to stay on our farm in Nambe.
Some people wouldn’t allow Gypsies on their land, but grandma had a connection with them. I suppose it’s because they came over from Spain, and our family did too. In fact, my great-great-great-great (I'm not sure exactly how many “greats”) grandfather, Bernardo Romero, was sent by King Ferdinand and Isabella to map their territory in the Southwest. He was a cartographer and drew maps of central and northern New Mexico. I have one of them somewhere. But I digress…

Getting back to the Gypsies, while they were staying on our farm, one of the Gypsy women wanted to come in and read my grandma’s fortune. Once she was inside, grandma swears the woman put a spell on her. She said she lost track of time and wasn't aware of where she was… When she finally “came to,” the Gypsies were gone. Grandma raced to the tin where she hid the household money and opened it up, but it was empty. She swore to me they must have hypnotized her so she would reveal where she hid her money. How would they have known where it was? They put her in a trance...
Spanish Gypsies, Oil on Canvas, Francis William Topham c.1854-1855. ( Click for Source )
Gypsy Caravan ( Click for Source )
Marc Simmons is a historian who talks about the Gypsies in northern New Mexico. In one interesting article , he talks about collecting “the stories of old-timers who could remember as children the annual coming of the Gypsies. In those days, they traveled, like Spanish Gypsies, either on horseback, with pack mules or in caravans of brightly covered wagons. ” One woman recalled the Gypsies as a “mixed blessing,” bringing excitement, such as dancing bears, and paying cash for local chickens to feed to the bears. But others shared negative stories, stating that “ while the Gypsy woman was diverting the family with her fortune telling, her husband would slip around the back and raid the hen house.” Marc Simmons confirms that “the years after 1910 saw a flood Gypsies entering the Southwest. They floated through El Paso, Roswell, Silver City and then up the Rio Grande into Colorado.” My grandma would have been in her 40's living on the farm during that time.
Today, I often think of grandma and the Gypsies when I see Flamenco dancers. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’ve heard that modern-day Flamenco dancing descended from the Spanish Gypsies. After migrating to the Southwest, the woman made money dancing in their elaborate, brightly-colored dresses. That makes sense to me!

In any case, I’m rather sad those colorful days are gone. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m sad grandma lost her money, but…in my imagination…I can’t help being a little nostalgic for those colorful, wandering people living in such an authentic, vibrant time.
24"x30" original painting I donated to the National Institute of Flamenco in Albuquerque, NM (2015)
Painting Process via Christmas Eve Bonfires
If you haven't been to the Taos Pueblo on Christmas Eve, you must plan on visiting to witness this magical and spiritual evening. At dusk, the Procession of the Virgin Mary files out of the historic church while rifle salutes ring through the cold winter air. Then the 30-foot bonfires are lit - about 20 huge piles of pitch wood that warm visitors as they celebrate in the midst of the 1000 year-old adobe buildings.
The Bonfires
Final State: Tweaking, More Layering and Done!
Stage 1: Sketching on Canvas Painted Red
Stage 2: Beginning to "Block" Color
Stage 2 Continued: Blocking in More Color
Stage 3: Layering and Texturing
Snow Snow Snow and More Snow!
I really don't have a story to tell...but I can't get over how much it is SNOWING this year! Last year was just horrible - we hardly got any snow at all. This year, we got 12 inches and then less than a week later 14 inches in Taos. Taos Ski Valley is hopping - best and most challenging skiing in the country. Head up Kachina Peak for example... 12,481 elevation!
Featured Paintings

To inquire or to request a high-resolution photograph, please contact Ed at 575-770-6360 or  edsandovalart@gmail.com .
"Musico Del Norte" (30" x 84")
"Old Mill" (36" x 48")
"Night Snow Taos Pueblo" (36" x 24")
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