Ed Sandoval is a prolific artist known for his oil-on-canvas paintings of classic, familiar scenes of Northern New Mexico. Born in Nambé, a rural community twenty miles north of Santa Fe, Sandoval has always felt a deep reverence for the area in which he spent his childhood, and he draws some of his creative inspiration from his early memories.
He grew up in a large Spanish-speaking farm-and-ranch family in which life was slow, peaceful and defined by tradition. His mother taught him how to make tamales; his father taught him how to build with adobe and take care of animals. His grandmother, he says, was a curandera, a native healer, who introduced him to and guided him in “the old ways.” He sees his paintings as visual stories that “portray the integrity, spirit and way of life of the Hispanic culture. I paint the hard-working, faithful people who have such a deep connection to the land,” he says.
Sandoval’s paintings frequently feature what has become his signature image: a silhouetted figure with a walking stick and hat. Called “El Viejito,” or “Little Old Man,” he was inspired by the character Amarante Cordova in Robert Redford’s 1988 film The Milagro Beanfield War. Sandoval lived in Truchas when Redford was filming on the property next door, and he let Redford borrow horses during the filming. Invited to spend time on the set, Sandoval got to know some of the cast and crew. To him, El Viejito is more than just a colorful movie character. “He’s an Everyman figure, an embodiment of the New Mexico of my youth,” he says.
Now a resident of Taos, Sandoval values this vibrant community in which different cultures have melded, with each retaining its own traditions and spirit. He appreciates the town’s unique architecture and the centuries-old haciendas.
An artist who loves to paint for an audience, Sandoval used to park his distinctive turquoise-colored Chevy pickup outside his studio gallery at the entrance to Taos Plaza, set up his easel outside and paint in front of anyone interested in watching him work. When the pandemic hit, he closed his studio gallery and moved back to his former studio space in Taos on Quesnel Street, now called the Ed Sandoval Gallery. “I didn’t think it was wise to keep painting in a parking lot surrounded by people, and it was time to go home, so to speak,” he says.
Sandoval has come to love “painting at home,” as he calls working while at his Quesnel Street location. He was certain he would miss the hustle and bustle of the Taos Plaza, but instead he has discovered that by being off the beaten path, he can focus closely on details and take time to get the colors exactly right. “I’m not rushed anymore. I have time to breathe, and I’m amazed by the work I’m producing,” he says.
Sandoval has made another recent change in his professional life. He is now showing his paintings in Santa Fe, at Canyon Road Contemporary Art. He’s been very productive during the past year, and the fruits of his labor will be on display in his upcoming one-man show at the gallery. Sangre runs July 23—29, which is during Spanish Market. On July 24, he’ll give an outdoor painting demonstration from 11a.m. – 3p.m.
Kevin Paul is a multimedia artist with a penchant for running trails. He is a long-time resident of Albuquerque’s South Valley, where he and his wife, Kayla, watch migrating birds and tend their garden and orchard. He has spent many years in and around the Santa Fe art scene.