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New Mexico State University

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Retablos exhibition continues through Feb. 7 at NMSU Art Gallery

A major exhibition of Mexican retablos and related devotional art is on display at the New Mexico State University Art Gallery through Feb. 7, 2000.

This re-creation of a 19th century bedroom shrine is one of several installations in the exhibition "El Favor de los Santos," which continues through Feb. 7, 2000, at the University Art Gallery in Las Cruces. (NMSU photo by Michael Kiernan)

"El Favor de los Santos: The Retablo Collection of New Mexico State University" is the most comprehensive exhibition to date on the subject of 19th century Mexican retablos, said Gallery Director Charles Lovell. It features 180 retablos and related works from the gallery's collection of more than 1,700 pieces -- the largest public collection of Mexican retablos in the United States -- and about 75 works of art borrowed from institutions such as the Museo Franz Mayer and the National Museum of Anthropology, both in Mexico City.

After the exhibition completes its run in Las Cruces, it will travel for three years to museums in Mexico, the United States and Spain.

Retablos are paintings of sacred figures, usually oil on tin, produced primarily for home altars. "El Favor de los Santos" shows the relationship of retablos to other forms of votive art from pre-Columbian times to the present, Lovell said. It includes examples of clay figures of Aztec deities that were venerated in household altars before the arrival of the Spanish, a Baroque altarpiece showing the European influence, a typical 19th century bedroom shrine from Mexico and a contemporary altar showing how the tradition continues today.

The University Art Gallery is located in Williams Hall on University Avenue, east of Solano. Admission is free. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The gallery will close at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and will be closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Otherwise it will maintain its regular schedule during the university's winter break. Lovell said the Friends of the Gallery support group raised funds to allow the gallery to be staffed during the holidays for this major exhibition.