Missions and Moradas
Several things make up our unique New Mexico landscapeâamong them, unique architectural structures and the people who inhabit them. A new exhibit, Missions & Moradas of New Mexico, 1922-2012, opening this Friday at William R Talbot Fine Art, celebrates both.
The annual Easter group show features paintings, drawings, prints and photography from Morris Blackburn, Howard Cook, Lucille Leggett, Ralph Pearson, Craig Varjabedian and Theo White.
âThe pieces that Iâm showing there culminate from work I did for a period of seven to 10 years,â Varjabedian tells SFR. â[Itâs] a mixture of moradas and manifestations of Catholic faithâchurches, crosses and that sort of thing.â
His eight pieces for the show, Varjabedian says, spawned from a study he did on the Penitente Brotherhood, which later evolved into a book and a traveling exhibit organized by the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.
Unique to the region, the brotherhood is a lay confraternity that surged after Mexican independence in 1821, upon the departure of Spanish missionaries.
âPeople were basically left,â the photographer says, adding that the moradas (chapter houses) arose âin order to provide some moral guidance to their villages and mutual aid.â
So, the Penitente Brotherhood was born.
âThe brothers strongly identify with whatâs known as Christâs passion,â Varjabedian explains. âThey go through personal acts of penanceâthatâs where the word penitente comes from.â
Varjabedian says that along with shooting the brother houses, meeting and photographing members of the brotherhood and nonmembers alike was a true highlight. Such was the case with santero husband/wife team Eulogio and Zoraida Ortega (pictured).
âSheâs passed away since I made that photograph,â Varjabedian, who treasures the moment he snapped the couple, says.
âThatâs one of the great things about photographyâyou go back,â he continues. âZoraida was cooking that day, and I remember the smell of chile; I remember the light, temperature and the moment I made that specific photograph: the shutter tripped and those looks in their faces appeared.â
Where: William R Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints
129 W San Francisco St.
Santa Fe, NM