Birthing beautiful hope

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By Birdie Jaworski

The Immaculate Heart of Mary bursts into leaping orange flame next to the sword-pierced heart of her resurrected Son. A twisted ring of thorns presses into Mary’s flesh, transmitting the pain a Mother breathes for her child. Jesus’ heart stands behind His mother, a silent sentry promising rest.

The icons hover in the center of a delicate tangerine circle ringed with deep blue, two unwavering souls watching, waiting, in Cruz Flores’ “Corazones,” a work now on display as part of the “Corazones” show of five Las Vegas artists at the Mixed Corn Blessing Gallery in Taos.

“This is a group show of Las Vegas Santeros featuring the heart as traditional Hispanic iconography,” explains Arnold Trujillo, gallery owner along with his wife, Birthing Project USA founder, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo. “Las Vegas artists Cruz Flores, Geraldine Flores de Silva, Joseph Lujan, Vera Lujan, and June Lopez will present their work, each of them taking the theme of ‘the heart’ and creating something special for the show. This is a non-profit gallery, and this show is a fundraiser for Birthing Project USA.”

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo recognized a deep need for maternal and child health programs, especially among African American communities, and founded Birthing Project USA as a volunteer effort to encourage better birth outcomes by providing practical support to women during pregnancy and for one year after the birth of their children. The first Birthing Project began in Sacramento, Calif., in 1988 as a community service project comprised of local volunteers who provided one-on-one support to pregnant teens and women in need, and has grown into a nationally recognized model which has been replicated in about 70 communities in the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

“Each of the artists in this show has a different type of art, but we are all united with the idea of ‘the heart,’ says Cruz Flores, a Las Vegas Santero of 20 years. “The gallery’s profits go to a very important thing. We all want to give the people of this community something to think about. It’s a very heartfelt show, and it goes hand in hand with the Birthing Project. All of the artists in the show met up during the Las Vegas Studio Tour and talked with Arnold. When we found out the social issues behind the gallery, we got excited about doing something.”

The show runs now through Aug. 9 with an artists’ reception on Saturday, July 12, from 4 to 6 p.m., where gallery visitors can meet the artists and learn about the work of Birthing Project USA.

In addition, Cruz Flores will give a public presentation of the evolution of the heart in Hispanic Santero Art on Saturday, July 19 at 6 p.m. at the gallery.

The show promises a range of traditional northern New Mexico art styles, each piece focused on the heart as a point of yearning, as the focus of love, as a physical object, as the intangible connection between the divine and the earth, as the center of family. Geraldine Flores de Silva, Cruz’ daughter, learned the art of creating traditional Hispanic Santos from her father and grandfather, and is presenting several pieces as part of the “Corazones” exhibit. Cruz’ 14 year-old granddaughter, Adrianna Delgado, is showing a retablo of St. Michael the Archangel.

Artist Vera Lujan, an oil painter who has specialized in the churches of northern New Mexico for ten years, also shares a family connection as part of the exhibit. Her son, Joseph Lujan, was inspired his parents’ love of the traditional hispanic arts, and is showing his handmade furniture retablos. June Lopez rounds out the exhibition with her braided wire work.

“This show is going to help us raise awareness for Birthing Project USA,” says Trujillo. “We .invite the public to come help celebrate our Las Vegas Santeros and to share our hearts as we continue helping mothers and children be safe and healthy.”

Mixed Corn Blessing Gallery in Taos,108 A Civic Plaza Drive Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, 758-8219 or by appointment. Call 737-1025 for information.