New Mexico Art Tells its History

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, ca. 1920s
José Dolores López (1858-1937)
Museum of International Folk Art; Gift of the Historical Society of New Mexico

José Dolores López suffered a deep depression in 1917 when the U.S. Army drafted his son, Nicudemos. López, a farmer from the village of Córdova, discovered that whittling alieviated the symptoms of his insomnia. He gave his chip-carved picture frames and functional objects to friends and relatives, and they quickly became popular items in the village.

Painter Frank Applegate and activist-writer Mary Austin founded the Spanish Colonial Art Society to encourage the production of weavings, sculptures, and furniture in the spirit of vintage 19th-century works. They considered López their first “discovery” in their efforts to revive Hispanic Arts, in the 1920s.

José Dolores López was the first of a long line of unpainted aspen wood carvers in Córdova. New Mexico. Lopez’ family and others in the Córdova area, keep the tradition alive today.

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