Arthur Lopez is one of the leading Santos carvers in New Mexico. This piece is entitled, “Brother Wolf”. It depicts the story of St. Francis and the wolf of Gubbio. The wolf is in front of St. Francis. He has two birds on his hand and shoulder. Check out the painting on the body of the figure and the detail in the wolf and birds! The last photo is one of Arthur working on the piece.
Arthur said of this piece:
“St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures. He founded the Franciscan orders and he and St. Catherine of Siena are the patron saints of Italy. I wanted to focus on St. Francies as the the patron saint of ecology, pets, and animals. St. Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ (marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified) making him the first person to receive such holy wounds.
The story of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio goes that St. Francis enters the Italian town of Gubbio, where a fierce wolf had been terrorizing the village. St. Francis goes out to meet the wolf. When the wolf sees St. Francis, he comes charging at the saint with his mouth open, ready to attack. St. Francis immediately makes the sign of the cross over him and says, “Come here, Brother Wolf. I command you on behalf of Christ that you do no harm to me or to anyone.” As soon as St. Francis did this, the fearsome wolf closed his mouth and stopped running; and once the command was given, it came meekly as a lamb, and threw itself at the feet of St. Francis. Then St. Francis scolds Brother Wolf for destroying and killing the creatures of God. “The whole town is complaining about you,” Francis tells the wolf gently. “But I want to make peace between you and the people. And so I promise that I will have food given to you regularly, Brother Wolf, by the people of this town so that you will no longer suffer hunger. And I want you, Brother Wolf, to promise that you will never harm any human person or animal.” The wolf showed agreement by simply bowing his head.
This piece is part of Arthur’s new series “Kindred: The Spirit Within”.
“Kindred: The Spirit Within:
St Francis is the patron Saint of Santa Fe but is best know as the patron saint of animals. It was said that he could speak to the animals and would preach to the birds. Saint Francis even tamed a wolf that was terrorizing the village of Gubbio in Italy. In Arthur Lopez’s new show “Kindred: The Spirit Within” Arthur captures the harmony of the animal spirit by focusing on the relationship between animal and spirit and highlighting the animal as the main subject of the story. Being kindred is having a quality that comes deep from inside, kindred spirits feel as if they have similar souls or as if they may have ‘known each other in a past life this may be why when you look into an animals eyes with out words you can feel its emotions or the spirit within.
Spirit Animals are guides or messengers that appear to a person as an animal of the spirit’s choice. Indigenous and First Nations peoples do not view their Spirit Animals as a sign of what kind of person they will be. Instead, they view their Spirit Animals as messengers, teachers, and support systems for life.”
The process for Arthur’s work is bound in tradition. After the piece is carved, is covered in gesso (a glue made from rabbit hide) which is allowed to dry and then sanded. It is painted with both natural and watercolor pigments. Natural colored pigments, such as brown, are derived from black walnut hulls. These are the time involved and historic foundations for his work.
We are pleased to present this amazing body of work from one of the leading Santos artists in the country. Arthur’s artistic expression continues to break through the history of Traditional Spanish Colonial art in New Mexico. Each piece demonstrates his expressive ideas by utilizing and honoring traditional techniques to arrive at his uniquely contemporary one-of-a-kind creations. Consistently Arthur has pushed the boundaries of the New Mexico Santero tradition that has placed him a the forefront of his craft.
Arthur’s work is found in numerous museum and public collections, including Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, Denver Art Museum, Freedom Museum (911 Memorial at Ground Zero), Harwood Museum of Art, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and the State of New Mexico Permanent Art Collection. Most recently he received the New Mexico Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2022!