Monday, August 20, 2007

Call for Retablos

19th century retablo "San Acacio Martir."
San Acacio, in full military regalia, is surrounded by military attributes; a shield, a helmet, a sword, a banner and a drum. According to popular legend, San Acacio and ten thousand martyrs were captured and crucified or decapitated.

Retablos are small oil paintings on tin, zinc, wood or copper used in home altars to venerate Catholic saints. The translation for "retablo" is "behind the altar."

Colorful, spiritual, symbolic, allegorical, historical, folkloric and charming, this genre of folk art represents the heart and soul of traditional religious beliefs in 17th through 19th century Mexican culture.

A process which was originally introduced by the Spanish, the retablo was an art form that flourished in Mexico and reached its pinnacle of popularity in the last quarter of the 19th century. Retablo 'factories' were established with a hierarchy of artists who worked to produce the same images. A typical "retablero," seldom recognized as an artist, may have reproduced the same image thousands of times in their career.

The oil paintings were sold to believers who displayed them in home altars to honor their patron Saint. There are hundreds of saints invoked to remedy different situations. San Ysidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers, is prayed to for good weather and prosperous crops. San Jeronimo is called upon for protection against temptations and want.

Counterpart to the retablo, ex-votos are devotional paintings on canvas or tin which offer thanks to a saint in the form of a short narrative. A small child becomes ill, a favorite animal disappears and returns or a family narrowly escapes death after their house burns to the ground. The petitioner, grateful for a miracle received, dedicates a small painting with a short testimonial text.

The Mexican retablo is a hybrid of Native American artistry, Catholic iconography and Spanish culture. This combination of subject and style reflects the links between the old and new world.

pick up a tin!!

Dia de los Muertos
Lawndale's 20th Annual

Lawndale Art Center will celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with a swath of programming.

The Retablo Silent Auction/Gala is on Friday, October 26.

Lawndale invites artists to create a retablo- inspired work for the auction using a small sheet of metal that is provided by and can be picked up at Lawndale Art Center. One sheet per artist. First come, first served.