New Mexico Art Tells its History


Indios, 2002
Ray Martín Abeyta (American, 1856-2014)
oil on linen
Gift of Ray Graham and the artist, 2004.

Ray Martin Abeyta was raised in the small northern New Mexico village of Santa Cruz. Having grown up on the outskirts of Espanola, the self-proclaimed "Lowrider Capital of the World," Abeyta's New Mexican roots, as well as his nostalgia, are evident in the vehicle he drives, a classic 1956 Ford F100 pickup. Since 1986, Abeyta has been creating masterful oil paintings in a baroque, Spanish Colonial style, which he infuses with contemporary subject matter and pop-cultural motifs that he derives from a variety of sources.

This dual portrait of an Indian from Asia and an Indian from the Americas puns on the geographic ambiguity of Christopher Columbus's erroneous "discoveries" in the Caribbean. Columbus mistakenly thought that he had arrived in India when he landed in the Caribbean. The resulting term “Indian” creates confusion relating to the cultures, lands and races of the indigenous peoples from both India and the Americas.

The mis-discovery of America was not limited to 1492. The American Southwest itself has survived multiple "discoveries" by nomadic Native Americans, Spanish colonists and missionaries, United States geological expeditions, and anthropo-logical research teams. And finally, individual travelers continue to make their personal discoveries of the landscapes and peoples of New Mexico.

Abeyta’s painting Indios asks viewers to think about the interactions that have occurred in New Mexico and forged our art and culture.

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