Patrocino Barela

circa 1901 – 1964
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
>Wood carver
Patrociño Barela, also known as Patrocinio Barela or Patrocino Barela, was a self-taught wood carver. Because of the religious nature of his subjects he was called a santero, but he did secular work too. His work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York with other artists of the Federal Art Project...Patrociño Barela's date of birth is unclear, but is assumed from his various accounts to have occurred between 1900 and 1904. His mother and younger sister both died early in his life, but these dates likewise are not clear. Barela did not attend school for more than a few weeks and was not able to write. He worked as a steelworker, miner, on the railway, as a farmhand, and as a unionized carpenter...He found his calling as a carver of sacred objects in 1931...his work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art but he had no ambition to see the eight objects chosen as part of a Federal Arts Project exhibition there. He was lauded by the museum as "the most dramatic discovery" and he was called "discovery of the year" by Time magazine. Two other exhibitions of his work in 1939 further established Barela nationally, the San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition and the American Art Today show at the New York World's Fair...Barela died in a fire at the age of 64. His body was found in the corner of his studio after a fire overnight and it is presumed that inebriation combined with wood shavings and his own cigarette had created the fire. He was living at his studio in Cañon, near Taos, New Mexico still poor and illiterate but famous...The largest collection of his work is at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, part of the University of New Mexico. Another collection is on permanent exhibition at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos and consists of both three-dimensional carvings and a large relief-carved door. His other legacy is the family of artists including children and grandchildren, Luis and Carlos Barela, who carry on the tradition.
Geographic names
Related people/organizations
Carlos Barela (is grandparent of )
Luis Barela (is grandparent of )
Related exhibition/event
Craftsmen of New Mexico 1955 (is lent from)