Rosa Maria Calles

after 1949
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
I grew up in a nineteenth century adobe home and experienced bathing in a metal tub after heating the water outside and carrying it inside in a bucket. The tub was placed in the center of the kitchen and the doorways were covered with homemade curtains. I loved eating tortillas coming off the wood stove, or the bread my nana occasionally baked in the outdoor horno. I will never forget of frequent and hurried walks leading to my grandmother's front door. Her duck following close, nipping at the back of my legs. She would stand at the door scolding her duck for biting me and holding the door open for me to enter. Retablos and santos placed carefully in tin nichos rested on walls painted from the floor to mid-way in bright yellows or greens and above the paint to the ceiling was wallpaper made from colorful magazine pages. Her small bed held a fluffy homemade mattress covered with a quilt made from used cloth. On the hard dirt floor were handmade rugs. These memories and the living culture of matanzas, passion plays, and pilgrimages up Tome Hill in New Mexico cover my painted canvases...In 1995, I painted in oil, "Memorias," portraying the profound sentiment which I feel as a daughter, sister, mother, and nana. These paintings within a painting depict Our Lady of Guadalupe with her compassionate gaze; a woman mourning the loss of her children, tears flowing to the floor in waves leading to a painting of an older woman in luto (mourning) who has loved, lost, and gained wisdom. It also includes Doña Sebastiana, death patiently waiting. Never did I realize that this painting which came from the depths of my heart and memories would two years later, represent the anguish I felt at the loss of my two daughters, Lucia and Linda in a tragic car accident. I survived. I live... Michelangelo said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." I believe we can set the angels free, inspire butterflies, and give wings to birds that can't fly." [Retrieved on 4/4/2018 from]
Rosa Maria Calles was born in the small Spanish Colonial village of Tome-Adelino, New Mexico. This rural village of farms and ranches on the ancient El Camino Real provided Calles with the basis of her life's work. Her major influences came from her nana, Doña Felicitas Vallejos Calles, and the agrarian roots of village Matanzas, Hispano religious rituals and functions like Las Posadas and the famed Tome Passion Play, and daily farm life...Rosa Maria Calles' remarkable career began as a self-taught artist during her youth when she began sketching and painting portraits and scenes derived from her roots. She quickly became well known in the surrounding towns of Los Lunas, Los Chavez and Belen, New Mexico and gained a following...In 1972, Calles married author Ray John de Aragon and raised four children, Rosalia Cleofas, Lucia Dolores, Ramon Juan Carlos, and Linda Dulcinea. While raising a family she continued her visual career by producing a vast body of work and was published in La Confluencia Magazine, Fiesta USA by Penguin Books, and the Victorian Gazette. Calles expanded her career by working and being recognized in various artistic mediums. These mediums ranged from helping to revive the ancient art of painting on glass, which was rapidly becoming a lost art form, for churches and private collections, producing unique painted ceramic vases, oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, ceramic tile murals, acrylic murals, fiber arts, carved glass, and New Mexico Santero folk art. In all of these mediums Calles participated and was acclaimed in reviews in numerous invitational and juried shows. [Retrieved on 4/4/2018 from]
Geographic names
Related person/organization
Ray John de Aragon (is/was married to)