Historical society honors cultural heroes

Santero and art conservator Gustavo Victor Goler pictured in his Talpa studio. Courtesy photo

Santero and art conservator Gustavo Victor Goler, and co-editor of “Taos: A Topical History,” Julia Moore, will be honored by the Taos County Historical Society at its gala annual luncheon May 5 at the Sagebrush Inn and Convention Center, 1508 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. Featured speaker will be Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez, who will deliver a talk on the “Manitos Community Memory Project.”

Luncheon reservations must be received by Friday (April 26). Tickets are $40, $33 for TCHS members. Each plate ordered is guaranteed and nonrefundable with tax and gratuity included.

Goler was raised in Santa Fe among a family of Latin American art conservators and restorers. Goler’s early years were spent apprenticing in his family’s conservation studios where he learned wood-carving skills by helping conserve and restore 18th-20th century saints from Latin America and New Mexico. He began carving santos in high school as a hobby, creating a few pieces a year that he would give to family and friends. In 1986, he opened up a small conservation studio in Santa Fe where he specialized in the conservation of santos.

Santos are carved sculptures or painted images of Catholic saints or religious figures that play an important role in New Mexico’s Spanish Colonial history.

In 1988, Goler juried into Spanish Market in Santa Fe. His high level of craftsmanship and innovative design have garnered him 32 awards including the Master Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016. He lectures regularly on the subject of New Mexico santos, mentors developing artists, teaches classes, museum docents and continues his in-depth research on the subject of devotional arts.

Moore (1939-2019) was an editor at R.R. Bowker and editor in chief at the Whitney Library of Design. Later, she was director of textbook publishing at Harry N. Abrams, Inc. where she edited three editions of “Jason’s History of Art.” She moved to Taos in 2004 and was a board member of the Taos County Historical Society and a board member of the Harwood Museum Alliance. Moore collaborated with the late Corinna A. Santistevan to shape and edit the society’s award-winning 2013 publication “Taos: A Topical History.”

Rael-Galvez is noted for his dissertation, “Identifying Captivity and Capturing Identity: Narratives of American Indian Slavery.” Formerly the New Mexico state historian, executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and senior vice-president at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Rael-Galvez is a writer and founding principal of Creative Strategies 360, a consulting firm which works with organizations and communities locally, nationally and internationally.

The “Manitos Community Memory Project” is a Northern New Mexico initiative to recover and revitalize cultural heritage. Through the creation of community-based digital archives focused on the Indo-Hispano villages of Abiquiú, Amalia, Cerro, Chamisal, Costilla, Dixon, Las Trampas, Questa and Truchas, the project is redefining the meaning of community in a digital age.

The honoree luncheon menu offers three choices: twin beef medallions with a mushroom demiglaze, salmon with pesto sauce or stuffed portabello mushroom. Entrees are served with mixed green salad with ranch and vinaigrette dressing, rice pilaf, calabasitas, freshly baked rolls and butter, cherry cobbler dessert, iced tea and coffee. Mail reservation and payment to: Taos County Historical Society, PO Box 2447, Taos, NM 87571. For more information, call Ernestina Córdova, president, at (575) 770-0681.

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