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Meet the Masters
The “Spanish Market Masters Award for Lifetime Achievements” recipient is determined each year by the Master artists. The distinction of this award is gained after participating in Spanish Market for at least 25 years, winning awards at Spanish Market and other shows, being represented by artwork in private and museum collections, raising awareness of their traditional art, and giving back to the community as a mentor to other artists.

Masters Award Winners


Charlie Carrillo

Born in 1956, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is an artist, author, and archaeologist known particularly for creating art using Spanish colonial techniques that reflect 18th century Spanish New Mexico. Carrillo has blended craft, conservation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero — a carver and painter of images of saints. The depiction of saints for religious purposes dates to the 18th century in Hispanic New Mexican communities.
Carrillo holds a doctorate in anthropology / archaeology from the University of New Mexico, but his true commitment to tradition has led him to work as an artist and advocate within the religious community of northern New Mexico. As a generous mentor, he has inspired many artists to pursue the santeros' native techniques, values, and devotional spirit.


Mel Rivera

Artist Mel Rivera is among several artists helping to revive the lost art
of straw appliqué on crosses, boxes and retablos. He made his first straw appliqué cross in 1985, using only wheat straws which are especially difficult to work with. Mel continues to create new designs using only
the core of the straw plant which is what makes his straw appliqué work so unique. Mel cultivates his own wheat straw, letting some of the stalks weather into a deep golden hue, which he prefers for his floral designs. He also popularized the pueblo step design and the bear fetish in his work.


Lawrence Baca

Lawrence Baca is a multi-talented, award winning jewelry designer, born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His design inspiration is defined by the strong Hispanic and Native American cultural influences. The common theme in all his work is a combination of Spanish Colonial Ecclesiastical with roots in the earliest phase of Native American old Pawn.

Baca’s use of materials range from sterling silver to 24 karat gold. He also uses a wide variety of gems and stones to create one of a kind designs. There is no work like Lawrence Baca’s – the rugged splendor is pure joy, palpable. You simply feel lighter and happier in its presence. Collectors worldwide return to Santa Fe for his new works and people who see it for the first time are mesmerized by the depths of his heartfelt style.

His designs fuse old pawn, traditional Spanish Colonial and Southwestern motifs, sprinkling stones like garnets and moonstones into the mix. His inspirations spring from what he sees around him: fence posts, leaves, sandstone, crooked adobe buildings.


Arlene Cisneros Sena

I believe that santero art speaks for itself … and speaks to each viewer in a different way. One person may appreciate its artistic qualities, another may respond to an object of devotion. Today, I carry on the tradition and faith of a family where saints were very much a part of our lives. As a young girl I was surrounded with home altars and shrines devoted to the santos that protected and cared for the family. I call myself a santera, and I create the devotional pieces that will be treasured, blessed and appreciated by its owner. I am expressing myself by acknowledging my culture and preserving an art form for future generations to carry on.


Debbie Carrillo

Debbie Carrillo’s relationship with micaceous clay began more than twenty years ago when she was the first person to jury into Spanish Market in 1992. Since then she has won numerous awards for her pottery, including one of the Spanish Market’s highest honors, the Master’s Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Her work can be found in many museum collections throughout the United States and in many private collections as well. Debbie makes traditional micaceous utilitarian ware, which can be used for cooking, serving, and storage purposes. Her pottery is created by hand coiling and scraping micaceous clay into jars, pots, bowls, cups and other forms. The micaceous clay she uses is hand dug from clay pits near Petaca, New Mexico, and she fires her pottery

in outdoor fire pits using traditional firing methods. Debbie is originally from Abiquiu, New Mexico.


Ralph Sena

I come from a long line of blacksmiths and metalwork is “in my blood.” My jewelry ranges from traditional filigree to unique contemporary designs. Native American art has inspired me since my youth and I am blessed to share my passion by mentoring other artists.


Rita Padilla Haufmann

Rita Padilla Haufmann is from Tesuque, New Mexico. A self-taught spinner, dyer and weaver, she trained in the craft as she transitioned out of a 26-year career in education. As a child, Haufmann watched her grandmother wash and card the wool for colchones, or mattresses, made from bags of raw fleece. She now places a small stocking in the lower right hand corner of each woven piece to honor her great-grandmothers who were stocking knitters recorded on the 1823 Rio Tesuque census almost 200 years ago. 

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