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Introducing Writer's Retreat Presenter: Andrew Montoya

The last addition to our presenters of this year's Writer's Retreat is Andrew Montoya.


Montoya will be presenting "Art from the Soul" on June 19th from 1 pm - 2 pm where he will be exploring the way art is created from personal experiences.

"I feel like my art is an expression of my life’s stories. In some ways, I believe my journey started like that of a forced marriage: My Aunt did not allow me to choose if I wanted to learn to paint; rather, I was given a brush and told to paint. Without my transcendence into devotional arts, I believe I could not live my life to its fullest expression. I try to tell a story with each piece, and use my most favorite art renditions for guidance and inspiration. "


~ Andrew Montoya




Andrew Montoya is an award-winning artist who was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Living in the village of Agua Fria most of his life, he started learning about Spanish colonial art at nine years of age after the sudden death of his mother. He was mentored by his aunt, world-renowned artist Arlene Cisneros Sena. Montoya spent his summers painting and learning about saints and devotional art. Montoya entered his first piece in youth Spanish market at the age of 14, earning the Bienvenidos Award for first-time showing artists.


Montoya never wanted to paint saints. “I liked the devotional arts, but I wanted to carve and no one could teach me.” He remembers kneeling on a homemade dresser and praying to the porcelain statues at his grandparents’ house. “They were bloody and scary, their faces looked so sad and were full of emotion.” It was at that time he learned to carve. Montoya cut piñon trees in the open field by his home and practiced carving with chisels borrowed from his grandfather, cutting himself multiple times.

Montoya spent a portion of his summers at Spanish Market studying the techniques of older artisanos carving under a tent. They had a name, “La Escuelita” (the school), and one particular man artist, Manuel Lopez, was sculpting a bulto depicting Saint James on a horse. “That’s when I fell in love with carving, and I would not leave that spot until I gleaned all I could, and then some.” Montoya spent two days, from the opening of the Market until closing, asking questions and watching each shaving fall to the grass below.


Montoya remembers following artists like Arthur Lopez, Victor Goler, and James Cordova. He would walk to their booths, study their craft, and ask questions about their process. “I would congratulate them on their awards and run home after Spanish Market and carve, hoping to find my own style.” Montoya completed his term in Youth market and juried into the Adult Spanish market; however, he did not get in on his first try. He spent three years in a developing artist category, allowing him to participate and mentor under a juried artist. He spent time with sculptor Jerome Lujan, who showed Montoya where to get knives and wood to produce quality art.


Montoya has been participating in the Adult category of Spanish Market since age 19. He has won numerous awards, and his art is in both private and public collections. His art is in a number of states as well as parishes in New Mexico, most notably the processional cross for the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe. His studio is in Rio Rancho. He also mentors young individuals who express an interest in devotional arts. “I do my best to share techniques and keep our traditions alive. Without anyone to teach the methods to the youth, the art will die.” He recently taught a retablo-making class to students at Santa Nino Catholic School with the assistance of a grant from Crayola. He mentors his two nieces, Kianna Trujillo and Hailey Valdivia, who participate in Youth Spanish Market every year.


A full-time nurse practicing in Albuquerque, Montoya and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Rio Rancho; they are the proud parents of two wonderful children, Xavier and Avina. Montoya continues to be an advocate of the traditional arts and participates in multiple shows around the state. He believes in giving back to the community, supporting a number of foundations by donating his art for worthy causes.

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