Museum hosts Master Santero Geronimo Olivas

ALAMOSA — The San Luis Valley Museum presents Master Santero Geronimo Olivas in a special program from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26, at 401 Hunt Ave., Alamosa. Learn the secrets of making traditional santos centering around Hispanic heritage, and hear the history of the Catholic saints.

Olivas received a bachelor of arts degree in foreign language/Spanish and a minor in art in 1993 from Adams State University.

His first crucifix was created in 1988 while attending a workshop instructed by Master Santeros from New Mexico. It was then that Geronimo realized he had a gift to carve holy images out of wood. Thus, began his life as a santero.

Geronimo received a Master-Apprentice grant in 1992 from the Colorado Council of the Arts under the mentorship of Master Santero Rubel Jaramillo. In 1993 was a featured artist for the “Young Audiences” Artist in Residence Program for the Colorado Council of Arts. In 1994, he became a Master Santero for the Master-Apprentice Program sponsored also by the Colorado Council of Arts.

Participating in numerous art shows, gallery exhibitions, and presentations throughout Colorado including: Adams State University’s Luther Bean Museam and the Salazar Rio Grande Del Norte Center, San Luis Valley public schools, Lifeway’s of the San Luis Valley, Colorado State Veteran Center, Colorado State Fair, numerous traditional functions, and museums. Some of his santos are part of the permanent collection of Tomas J. Steele, S.J. “The Regis Collection of Santos” Dayton Memorial Library Regis College and private collections of Bishop Arthur N. Tafoya and Fr. Patrick Valdez.

His unique style derives from research of traditional santos of Colorado and Northern New Mexico and centers around Hispanic heritage; particularly the Morada de Nuestro Padre Jesus in Lobatos, Colorado and history of Catholic saints. The rivers and forest produce an abundance of resources available to him. Geronimo searches for many types of wood native to the San Luis Valley:  pine, aspen, cedar, and cottonwood root. Using carving tools, gesso, rabbit skin glue, pine pitch, natural and manmade pigments, and a cheese cloth method for creating garments. The final product is created in accordance with tradition.

Caption: Master Santero Geronimo Olivas will give a presentation this Friday evening at the San Luis Valley Museum in Alamosa./Courtesy photo