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Nicolas Otero: New Devotional Works

December 15th, 2023
Gallery wall featuring several of Otero's paintings, retablos, and carvings

In the railyard of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Blue Rain Gallery is set to reveal an enthralling exhibition that transcends the boundaries of traditional art appreciation. 

This months “Guadalupe Street Feature: New Devotional Works” are not merely a showcase of religious art; they stand as a cultural odyssey and historical exploration manifested in the artistic marvels of santero Nicolas Otero. 

Scheduled to run from December 15 to December 30, 2023, this exhibition promises to be a captivating experience for art enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Retablo painting featuring a Spanish man standing in a field with an angel
Nicolas Otero, San Isidro Labrador, Retablo: Natural pigments, pine, natural gesso, 23k gold leaf, 26.5"h x 11.5"w

The journey of Nicolas Otero into the world of Spanish devotional art commenced at the tender age of 16, initially oblivious to the fact that this was more than just a pastime or profession—it was a true calling. Over the years, his profound comprehension of religious-themed sculptures, carvings, altar screens, and paintings has metamorphosed this folk art tradition into fine art. Otero's extraordinary talent has garnered him prestigious recognition, including the esteemed New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, attracting a fresh wave of collectors drawn to the enduring symbols of faith and devotion that are encapsulated in his creations.

Gallery wall closely featuring several of Otero's paintings, retablos, and carvings

Otero underscores that his creations transcend the religious spectrum; they embody a fusion of influences from Spanish settlers and New Mexico's Native population. His santos, bultos, retablos, and other works serve as a conduit between different historical eras, capturing the essence of a tradition that has evolved while remaining deeply rooted in its origins.

What distinguishes Otero is his unwavering commitment to preserving historical techniques and tools. By forgoing modern conveniences, he takes a nostalgic voyage, connecting with his ancestors through every brushstroke and carving. The utilization of traditional materials fosters an atmosphere of reverence and compassion, forging a distinctive connection between the artist and the observer.

Retablo featuring a Spanish symbolic winged figure holding a knife standing atop a cloud and snake
Nicolas Otero, San Miguel, Retablo: Natural pigments, pine, natural gesso, 23k gold leaf, 24"h x 11.5"w

Otero's dedication to the old ways extends beyond his artistic process—it permeates the very fabric of his being. His artworks serve as conduits for dialogues, sparking discussions among diverse cultures. In a recent panel discussion featuring a Native poet, Otero delved into the nuanced facets of historical conflicts, questioning whether these figures were solely religious artifacts or tools of oppression and conversion. His art becomes a conduit for reconciliation, a bridge connecting disparate cultures seeking to comprehend and address historical divisions. 

Bulto featuring a haloed nun looking upward while holding a cross and skull
Nicolas Otero, Santa Rita, Bulto: Natural pigments, pine, natural gesso, 23k gold leaf, 15.5"h x 9"w

As Otero contemplates his craft, he recognizes the pivotal role his artworks play in the enchanting aura of New Mexico. The pieces are not mere expressions of religious devotion; they are contemplations on the significance of devotional art in fostering connections, kindling conversations, and contributing to the enchantment that defines New Mexico as a cultural sanctuary.

Therefore, as the doors of Blue Rain Gallery swing open on December 15, 2023, visitors are not only invited to savor the aesthetic allure of Nicolas Otero's devotional art but also encouraged to embark on a voyage through time, culture, and history—a journey that goes beyond religious confines and ignites meaningful conversations in the captivating landscape of New Mexico.

Left side of gallery wall featuring several of Otero's paintings, retablos, and carvings

Find all of Nicolas Otero's work at Blue Rain Gallery


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