BEN ORTEGA, TESUQUE: FINE St. Francis Carving (Bulto)

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  • Item Category: Ethnic, Folk & Native American Art
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Dec 05, 2007
  • Channel: Auction House

BEN ORTEGA, TESUQUE: FINE St. Francis Carving (Bulto)

Fine St. Francis Sculpture

12-3/8" high, 9" wide, 5-3/8" deep

Signed by the artist

++ Measurements are approximate ++

Santero art is a little-known national treasure located in the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, the product of a rich Hispanic culture that has been for four hundred years - ever since the time of the Conquistadors. Santos, the santeros' primitive depictions of religious subjects and characters, include retablos - painted flat items like wall hangings - and bultos, three-dimensional statues and figurines, usually carved from wood findings.

The small village of Tesuque, a few miles northwest of Santa Fe, is the home of the Ortegas, a family consisting of generations of renowned bulto carvers. Ben Ortega (d.) was famous for his depictions of St. Francis, St. Michael, biblical characters, angels and animals. His work has influenced dozens of younger carvers.

Ben gatd twisted roots of cedar, cottonwood and aspen for his creations, often left finished only in the naturally beautiful tones of the wood.
He has carved tree stumps into figures in Santa Fe's private gardens, and his art has found its way into many parts of the world, thanks to exhibits at Santa Fe Spanish Market and in galleries. Permanent collections are at the Smithsonian Institute w he took part in the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife. In Santa Fe he was honored as a "Living Treasure."

I purchased this intriguing figure nearly thirty years ago at the Ortega gallery in Tesuque. It has occupied an honored place in my home; however, the time has come for him to find another place of honor.

In making this statue, Mr. Ortega coated the cedar wood with gesso made from gypsum and animal hide glue. When the carving was completed, it was sealed with a resinous coating made from pi ñon sap. This figure is mounted on a 3/4" thick wooden stand measuring 5-3/8" deep and 6-3/8" wide. Signed in ink, " BEN ORTEGA HR ."

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Although I have collected top-quality Native American arts and crafts for more than 30 years, I do not consider myself to be an "expert," and this should be taken in...