NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Gustavo Victor Goler

NMPBS ¡COLORES!: Gustavo Victor Goler


>>SANTERO GUSTAVO VICTOR GOLER DID NOT WANT
TO BE AN ARTIST, BUT THE SAINTS CALLED HIM. ♪ ♪>>Lopez: What’s it like for you to be in your
work room, surrounded by Saints?>>Goler: I love it. It’s my favorite place to be. I always say that I’m always surrounded by
saints and I really am, because, I mean, in my house, of course, I have tons of saints. But in the studio it’s different, in that
I feel that the Santos really have a life of their own in there, because some are coming
there to be repaired and fixed, and so that they can be used again for their purpose. While, at other times, there’s Santos that
are in the progress of actually being made, you know, and being created. And, I think that the Santos almost like understand
that. And it’s, in a way, they feel like they like
being there. They tell me different stories. They tell me different aspects of, sort of,
humanity, you know. And then at different times that they existed,
you know, and the things that they did in in their own lives and the sacrifices that
they made. I like being surrounded by them because it’s… I feel protected, I guess in a way and it
was interesting that I never set out to be a Santero. I never really said to myself, “This is
what I’m going to do as a career.” As a matter of fact, I never wanted to be
an artist even, because I knew a lot of artists growing up and I always saw how difficult
it was for them. And so, things just kind of happened and the
saints found me. ♪ ♪>>Lopez: What inspired you to pick up tools
and create a Santo?>>Goler: What inspired me was really my, my
uncles, who taught me how to carve and worked in conservation studios, and they were the
ones that introduced me to that, but at the same time I had my own motivation. So, I’d go in there and make toys and I was
carving by the time I was 13. So, I was pretty young.>>Lopez: What was that connection that was
made when you started creating the Santos, or even creating the toys in the work room?>>Goler: The connection was really a spiritual
connection. I was brought up Catholic. I had an interest in Saints for whatever reason. It was interesting, I had found a crucifix
at the dump once when I was a little kid. And I remember rescuing it and bringing it
home and hanging it over my bed, and I was just connected spiritually to that. By the time I was in high school I was carving
some of my own Saints, but primarily for myself, as a hobby. But, I became interested because I realized
that there was a whole history of saint-making in New Mexico and so, at that time, I was
just trying to replicate them and I would use them as gifts for friends and family. And I just enjoyed the process of it.>>Lopez: So do you see yourself as a storyteller?>>Goler: I definitely see myself as a storyteller,
because I have to have an understanding of what the Saints represent, and their lives. And the way that I study them, I try to bring
out different aspects of that particular Saint that may not be known to most people, because
Saints have many different sort of patronages. ♪ ♪>>Lopez: Can you tell me a little bit about
how you take your Santos and maybe put a contemporary twist on them?>>Goler: That’s been, just, part of my growth
throughout the years. Initially, I was very much a traditionalist. I did everything by hand. I mixed my own pigments. I did all these things, used a handsaw. And eventually, as I progressed, I learned
to use better machinery and with that process this kind of came the modernization of the
Santos, a little bit. Bringing them up to a more contemporary level,
where it attracts a slightly larger audience. So, it may attract kids, you know, it may
attract someone who it just maybe is a pilot or someone who’s interested in cars, because
there may be some sort of element that’s played off and that. For example, the Saint Christopher, who is
known as carrying Christ on his shoulder across a large river. And, that’s what he did. That was his job, was to ferry people across
it. Because of that association with the water,
he’s also known as patron saint of boaters, patron saint of surfers.>>Lopez: How does movement inform the way
that you create your Santos?>>Goler: As I progressed with my own challenges
as a carver, trying to increase my own technical ability, I started to put a lot more movement
into my work. And it could be something as simple as, just
the wrists, you know, twisting the wrists around. More articulation with the fingers. There are times when I just work on hair and
carve different styles of hair. And I wanted to see the movement of the skeletal
body underneath the gowns, so you would see a knee that sticks out, or the hip that’s
pushed over to one side. And I became very interested in that kind
of composition, which… it’s kind of called an s-curve composition… and so it allows
me to play with my pieces a lot more according to design and composition. ♪ ♪>>Lopez: Why is it important for you to continue
crafting things?>>Goler: Because I feel it’s… at this point…
it’s my duty to really keep things moving and encouraging other artists to continue. Because, I don’t know that that’s going to
happen, you know, for how long? Or, there may be a diminishing crowd. I’m very involved with the whole Santero community,
and on different boards and things like that, that represent the Santero artwork. And it’s part of maintaining all of that. And it’s in the importance of that, because
the younger generation is going to… it’s harder for them to get involved in it as a
full-time, sort of, artistic venture. Again, it’s very difficult. So, some of the young generation might start
it, but then they won’t come back to it until they’re older. And for me, it’s more about maintaining the
flow of the movement. So, it’s not about creating Santos that are
sort of repetitious in style or you know, sort of knockoffs of the old ones. It’s more about the direction that the new
Santos are taking, because it speaks a little bit of a different language, and a change
in the culture, which is just a natural progression that we have, and a natural movement. And it’s been going on for so long, and the
different styles and directions that it’s taken, that it’s an important part of New
Mexico history.

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