Frank Brito

1922 – 2004
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
>Santero, wood carver
BRITO, FRANK...did not intend to become a santero (a maker of religious images), yet his thirty-five-year devotion to the art form has established him as one of the most respected santeros in New Mexico. Brito was born in Albuquerque, but his family moved north to Santa Fe. During the Great Depression, Brito quit the fifth grade to sellnewspapers and work other jobs. Traditional carvings and paintings of saints were a familiar part of Brito’s Hispanic upbringing, and at age thirteen he began experimenting with using a pocketknife to copy the faces of popular saints in wood.Years later, in 1965, when an illness temporarily sidelined Brito from his work as a plumber, he turned to carving to help pass the time. It was at this point that he attempted to create full-bodied renditions of saints. In addition to a pocketknife, he used hand chisels to shape original images from aspen and pine. Brito based hisworks on traditional colonial-era pro totypes, but shunned the conventional uses of color and detail in favor of his own color combinations and designs. As Brito became more personally connected to his work, his saints’ facial features began to reflect the faces of his friends and neighbors. He also portrayed saints, such as Saint Patrick, who were not ordinarily depicted. In 1967 Brito decided to sell his creations at Santa Fe’s Spanish Market, an annual exhibition of artworks modeled after Spanish colonial styles. There, Brito became well-known for his unique style of bultos (three-dimensional religious sculptures)...Brito originally used native woods, homemade gesso, and paints from natural pigments as his primary materials. By 1985, however, he had determined that modern materials were more efficient, and switched to using commercial watercolor and acrylic paints, and even non-native woods that proved softer to carve.Brito also expanded upon his repertoire of saints to include carved and painted animals (roosters, cats, rabbits, and coyotes). [Retrieved on 2/21/2018 from]
Geographic names
Santa Fe
Related people/organizations
Charlie Carrillo (was promoted or publicized by)
Chuck Rosenak (was promoted or publicized by)
Jan Rosenak (was promoted or publicized by)
Gilbert Montoya (is grandparent of )
Gilbert Montoya (influenced)