Spanish New Mexico: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society Collection. Edited by Donna
Pierce and Marta Weigle. (Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1996.
Foreword, acknowledgments, illustrations, appendices, notes, index. ISBN
o-89go3-311-5. $6o.oo, paper, 2 vol. slipcased).
This beautifully illustrated and extensively researched study presents an
impressive amount of information about the artistic heritage of New Mexico,
placing the various elements of New Mexico's art in a historical context.
Volume One, The Arts of Spanish New Mexico, opens with a concise historical
overview as viewed through the lens of material' culture. Some of this vol-
ume's most interesting information concerns the various adaptations of
European, American Indian, Moorish, and Oriental traditions and materials.
Individual chapters devoted to the carving of religious icons, the carving of
furniture, the working of precious metals, tinwork, textiles, straw applique,
and, even utilitarian implements, such as farming tools and firearms, point to
the ways in which Hispanic and Indian artists and craftsmen created a dis-
tinctly New Mexican aesthetic.
In Volume Two, Hispanic Arts In the Twentieth Century, the introductory chapter
probably will be of most interest to historians. Its discussion of evolution of the
"Santa Fe style" in architecture and the campaigns (which began in the 192os) to
market the area's image chronicles disagreements in the community over such
matters as authenticity and relative dominance of Hispanic or Indian architectur-
al elements. These disputes became linked in varying degrees with efforts by
prominent, non-native Anglo writers and artists (e.g., Mary Austin) to "conserve"
native folk art. However, these efforts often resulted in furthering commercialism
by persuading artists to apply folk techniques to non-native items, such as record
racks and lazy Susans. Interestingly, a group of Hispanic residents of Santa Fe
natives established La Sociedad Folklorica in 1935 to preserve their culture in
their own way by, among other methods, conducting all meetings in Spanish. The
remainder of this volume is devoted to the history of the Spanish Colonial Arts
Society and its collections, the revival of Hispanic crafts in the late twentieth cen-
tury, and the history of Santa Fe's Spanish Market.
Unfortunately, the book does have a few flaws, primarily in its visual design.
Instead of indentation, the initial letter of each paragraph is a large capital inside a
colored square, creating an extremely "busy" effect on the eyes. Also, inclusion of at
least one map would be of help to readers not familiar with New Mexico geography.
And, as often occurs in a collection of essays by several authors, some information is
repeated. However, these minor criticisms notwithstanding, these two volumes vivid-
ly demonstrate how history and art touch virtually all facets of life in New Mexico.
Hamon Arts Library Special Collections, SAM RATCLIFFE
Southern Methodist University
Lambshead Legacy: The Ranch Diary of Watt R. Matthews. Edited by Janet M.
Neugebauer. Introduction by Frances Mayhugh Holden. (College Station:
Texas A&M University Press, 1997. Pp. xx+227. Preface, acknowledgments,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed March 28, 2015.