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A historic New Mexican carved wooden figure of

a Great Horned Owl by George T. Lopez, Cordova, New Mexico, c. 1960’s-70’s

This is a very sweet little piece by the great New Mexico Santero George T. Lopez (1900-1993), who is, of course, a major New Mexican artistic legend and a designated National American Treasure, the honored and deserving recipient in 1980 of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage fellowship. Son of the renowned Cordova, NM wood carver, Jose Dolores Lopez (1868-1937), young George grew up with great carving and great religious devotion, the key elements of becoming a great Santero.

However, George first had an entire life as a journeyman railroad worker working around the intermountain west. He would carve wooden figures from memories of his father’s work and from seeing the various saints in his local village church as a child during the long lonely nights in the railroad camps. He returned to New Mexico in the mid-1940’s to work for a time at Los Alamos National Laboratories before settling back into his home village of Cordova around 1948-50 to take up his wood carving full time to which he devoted himself completely until his death in 1993.

"It's part of my life, and part of my name ... I'm a sixth-generation santero.”

-George T. Lopez

"Bubo Virginianus", The Great Horned Owl.

Photo source and © The Alaska Raptor Center

At left, Jose Dolores Lopez, c. 1930. At center, San Antonio de Padua in Cordova, New Mexico, George Lopez’ s village church.

At right, an original historic photo of George T. Lopez, c. 1950, possibly by T. Harmon Parkhurst, Santa Fe.

Left photo source and © National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Center photo source and  © Joe Vogan Photography.

This sweet little owl figure is one of the many non-religious carvings Lopez did later in his life of the local flora and fauna in his high mountain village home. The owl figure measures a diminutive 4" in height and is 1 5/8" in width. The figure is in excellent original condition and is signed “GL” in pencil on the bottom with an original price of $2.00. The owl is a very powerful figure in New Mexico folklore surrounded by many myths and legends. Lopez’s depiction shows the sweeter, more placid and peaceful side of this mythic and legendary creature.