Sunday, December 30, 2012


Thomas Mathies' carving of Jesus Christ on the cross is hand-hewn from
cottonwood roots he found along the Poudre River outside of Fort Collins.
Traditional egg tempera and gesso, typical of colonial New Mexican
religious folk art, were used for painting and antiquing the forms.

Thomas Mathies' cross carving with skulls is handmade from cottonwood roots.
Below is an authentic wood carving of San Jose (Saint Joseph) by the
famous 19th century New Mexican woodcarver, José Benito Ortega.

Closeup of Thomas Mathies' wooden cross with skulls 

Closeup of Thomas Mathies' wooden skulls 

I am so lucky to have a husband who is an amazing artist. Tom Mathies has been creating several amazing carvings this past year from found cottonwood in the style of Colonial New Mexican religious folk art. These are my birthday and Christmas presents!!!

Tom is professional a research animal biologist, but he has always had an artistic side. On the other hand, I have always been an artist with a biologist bent. We met on a nature adventure to Costa Rica in 1985 and just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. While on our honeymoon to the Southwest, I bought the San Jose carving at an American Indian jewelry shop in Moab, thinking it had been made in Mexico. Shortly afterwards we discovered that our San Jose was made in the late 1900s by a famous New Mexican santero, José Benito Ortega. 

We have spent our entire married life researching the works of Ortega and other colonial santeros showcased in museums around New Mexico and Colorado. We own a stack of books on the topic, and have collections numerous crucifixes from Mexico and the Phillipines. Tom's carvings fit perfectly into our religious folk art obsession.

Here is a photo of Tom's creation for my birthday last year. This cross is based on the Colonial New Mexican tradition of straw appliqué, still practiced today. Read more about Tom's cross at my earlier post from 2011.

Thomas Mathies' straw appliqué wooden cross 2011


Annie Jeffries said...

Good afternoon Laurie. What a gift you have in your husband and what a gift he holds in his hands. I especially like the first crucifix largely because of the most unusual addition if an angel holding a cup receiving the sacred blood of Jesus. It is, in fact, deeply moving.

Unknown said...

LOVE these carvings...Tom is awesome in every way. Thanks for sharing his fine work with us, Laurie. They are wonderful. kp

salvage chica said...

How talented both of you are! What an amazing love story!

Unknown said...

I love Thomas' you ever show together?

happy new year! Hope our paths cross this coming year

rebecca said...

how did i miss this amazing collection of tom's work? i am swept away at his sensitivity in evoking the timelessness of devotion in his traditional pieces.
i too would love to see your work together in a gallery setting, better yet, a visit into the comfort and sanctuary of your home.
(and of course, i love how you met!)