San Luis Valley Embroidery exhibit in Taos and workshop in Alamosa

Image courtesy of The Range, Saguache, Colorado Donna Madrid Hernandez, S.P.M.D.T.U in Chama 2022.

TAOS, N.M., and ALAMOSA — Artists from the San Luis Valley will be featured in an upcoming exhibition, Colcha Embroidery: Traditional and Contemporary at La Hacienda de Los Martinez in Taos, N.M., from July 1-31. After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic and forest fires, this large display will fill several rooms. It includes works created by beginners to nationally recognized bordadoras (embroiderers).

Areas represented include the San Luis Valley and La Veta and the New Mexico communities of Taos, Penasco, Chamisal, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Moriarty, and Las Cruces.

La Hacienda de los Martinez is a historic exhibition space, built in 1804 with adobe, and located on the bank of the Rio Pueblo de Taos. The exhibit's unique feature appreciated by

needle-workers is the ability to observe works up close. Hacienda de los Martinez is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m., located at 708 Hacienda Rd., Taos, N.M..

Embroiderers from throughout the San Luis Valley will be featured in the exhibition and include Maria Eufemia Barela, Donna Madrid Hernandez, Irene Medina, Julia Mondragon, Connie Morrell, Marcella Pacheco, Mary Vigil de Rodriguez, Sandy Dolak, Adrienne Garbini, and Aurora Martinez.

Garbini told the Valley Courier, “Colcha embroidery is a textile art unique to Southern Colorado and New Mexico, where the art form originated in the early 19th Century. The colcha embroidery technique employs a single needle and thread, laying long stitches secured to cloth with tacking stitches. The term colcha refers to the Spanish word for a bed covering. It is common in the historical and modern San Luis Valley style to fill the entire surface of the fabric with embroidery. Valley colcha embroidery artworks often illustrate personal histories and local landscapes.”

According to Taos Historic Museums, “The Hacienda de los Martinez — One of only a few northern New Mexico style, late Spanish Colonial period, ‘Great Houses’ remaining in the American Southwest. Built by Severino Martin (later changed to Martinez), this fortress-like building with massive adobe walls became an important trade center for the northern boundary of the Spanish Empire. The Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real which connected northern New Mexico to Mexico.”

Included in the show will be a work by Donna Madrid Hernandez, of the S.P.M.D.T.U in Chama.

According to the National Park Service, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2018, The Chama Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU) lodge hall in Chama is locally significant as the lodge hall of the United Workers' Mutual Protection Society‎ group since its construction in about 1920. Founded in 1900, the society served the fraternal and social needs of its Hispano membership. The organization arose at a time when ethnic mutual aid societies were springing up across the nation.

In the early 20th century, Hispanos often formed mutual aid societies to combat prejudice and exploitation: The primary function of these organizations was to build solidarity within the Mexican and Spanish American communities, to educate their members about the laws and institutions of the United States, to welcome new arrivals to the communities.

This colcha work is an embroidery representation of this important aspect of Hispano culture and history.

The Alamosa Public Library will be offering a colcha embroidery workshop on Saturday, June 24 at 1 p.m. with artists Donna Madrid Hernandez of San Luis, and Adrienne Garbini of Saguache. The class is free to attend. The Alamosa Public Library is located at 300 Hunt Ave.