The Emancipation of Christ (El Santuario de Chimayo)

by Art West a.k.a. Alan Heuer

40" x 30" oil painting on canvas

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About this Painting
April for my 2017 Art West Calendar, "The Emancipation of Christ" of the El Santuario de Chimayo in northern New Mexico.

Here's a link to the calendar, premium and standard sizes available.


And here's what I've written about the painting itself ...

A star like crystal mightily sparkles in the early evening sky as the sun sets low on the horizon, intense yellow against red, primal and insistent, adding warmth to the adobe walls of an old Spanish Mission and silhouetting a man bearing a cross, the Christ as it were, bringing salvation to the world.

Some time ago while working at my studio in Santa Fe I was asked by a Spanish gentleman who worked in the building if I had done a painting of the mission in Chimayo. I have not, I told him, though I have been there a couple of times. You should, he said, and be sure to have a man carrying a cross. It's important. People do that during the pilgrimage each year.

So, I made a pilgrimage to the church myself to find inspiration for a painting, using my camera from lots of different angles. At this point I did not yet know where things were headed. It did seem that whatever I did, the relative size of the man to the church would be drastic and he would not be seen, at least not immediately, that I needed a vehicle to draw the eye to the man. Something brilliant, something bright, the sun of course, shining on the son of man. And I knew at this point it couldn't be just any man carrying the Cross, it needed to be Christ himself.

Thus, did I need a model for Christ carrying a cross. And so I began to scour the internet for images of Christ carrying a cross, and of course, there are many. But, that didn't feel right. I needed my own Christ. It occurred to me to photograph myself carrying a cross. So, I assembled a cross from some canvas stretchers and proceeded to take photographs with a timer. Thing is I was wearing carpenter pants, clever I thought, but if I put Christ in shorts some might find offense. I decided to turn the shorts into a tunic as Christ was purported to wear.

Then I started working on Christ's entrance into the church, but it just did not feel right. Finally, I faced Christ going out of the Church not in. Not sure why, but it just felt right, even though I knew it would probably be going against tradition. And thus do we have Christ leaving the Church. But, the painting felt out of balance, it needed something else, something to counteract the weight of the church and the bright yellow of the son. And a starry night was born with the Star of Bethlehem. And balance was achieved. A trinity as it were.

And apparently, the story goes, on Good Friday around 1810 a penatente by the name of Don Bernardo Abeyta was doing penance in the hills near the present site of the mission when he saw light on the hillside. He approached and saw the light was coming from the ground and began to dig and found a cross. He went and found friends to help finish the task. And the cross was taken to the nearby mission at Santa Cruz and placed on the main alter.

And then it disappeared and was later found at its original location. This happened three times and it was decided it needed to remain where it had been found. And the El Santuario de Chimayo was born.

Thus, my inclination to have the cross leaving the church may not have been too far off, that the cross wanted to be found and emancipated, and the message of Christ brought to the world from this spot.

Each year El Santuario de Chimayo receives around 300,000 visitors. And on each Good Friday massive pilgrimage to the church continues. And, of course, there is much more to the story of this famous church, but what I found striking was the emancipation of the Cross those many years ago.

And thus did the painting become, "The Emancipation of Christ", 40x30" by Art West, oils on canvas. Available.

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    Art James West - "Art West" - Contemporary Southwest Art
    Visionary, Colorful, Whimsical - Landscapes of the West and Beyond

    Art James West, award winning Taos Icon and contemporary southwest artist. Art considers himself a post-modern, American visionary and romantic who paints with a touch of socio-political commentary and humor that includes colorful visionary landscapes of the West and beyond--large conceptual oil paintings he coined as utopic displacement. Raised in Wyoming, Art has been painting in oils for over 40 years and is now PainTing BADass Color in Albuquerque with a working artist studio / gallery in downtown Santa Fe on San Francisco Street - Art West Studio. In 2000 he moved from New York City to Taos, New Mexico where he established himself as a Taos Icon and post Taos modernist following in the tradition of the Taos School. In 2006 he won best representational painting at the Taos Fall Arts Festival "Taos Invites Taos" (now the "Taos Select"). He is represented by several galleries around the west including Scottsdale and Taos.

    In 2013 he took on the professional name Art James West (Art West) and moved his studio to Santa Fe.

    Originally from Wyoming, Art West is and listed in The Artist's Bluebook as Alan Heuer.

    When in Santa Fe you may visit Art West's Studio @ the Plaza Mercado, Suite 109, 112 W. San Francisco Street right off Santa Fe Plaza

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Art West | Fine Art Print | The Emancipation of Christ (El Santuario de Chimayo)
Original oil paintings and Fine Art Prints for sale, contemporary southwest art by Santa Fe, New Mexico artist and Taos Icon, ART JAMES WEST (aka Alan Heuer) - Whimsical, Colorful, Visionary, Landscapes of the West & Beyond - Conceptual of Greater New Mexico, Southwest - Adobe, Churches, Sunsets, Water. Buy Art from Art!

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