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I am a Santero and Metalsmith from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I began painting retablos in 2007 and soon began carving and painting bultos in 2008. I became interested in learning metalwork to embellish my bultos with crowns, earrings, and other attributes. I taught myself basic soldering techniques and then was fortunate enough to meet Ralph Sena, who taught me the art of filigree, chasing and repousse, and greatly improved my confidence and technique. He has been a great mentor and a friend.

I enjoy carving, painting, and metalwork equally. I like the challenge of making things from scratch.  Creating Santos keeps me close to my cultural roots and fulfills me spiritually. 

I am a third generation craftsman. My grandfather, Rafael Vigil made beautiful furniture, a trade that he learned in the El Rito, New Mexico workshop after WWII. His son, Patricio Vigil (my uncle) is a woodworker and Santero from nearby Ojo Caliente. He encouraged and influenced me to continue the tradition.

If you are ever in Ojo Caliente enjoying the world renown mineral springs, feel free to visit the Hispanic Art Gallery and see samples of our artwork located in a rustic adobe building. It is truly a work in progress. I hope to pass on what I have learned to my son and daughter who have expressed interest in continuing the tradition. 

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Fri May 17, 2013.

By Rich Sanders Beacon Staff Writer Cibola Beacon

GRANTS - Two of the more prestigious honors given at last weekend’s La Fiesta de Colores at St. Teresa’s in Grants were the Bishop’s Award and Guadalupe Vineyard’s Award.

The winner of the Guadalupe Award was Felipe Rivera, who displayed the story of Juan Diego in a retablo work. The painting tells the story of Juan Diego’s vision of Mary while walking up a hill. Following the vision, he collected roses and placed them in a folded tilma. He visited a bishop, unfolded the tilma and saw, instead of the roses, an image of Mary. To read the entire article, please click here.

Read more about the traditional jewlery-making techniques I use by clicking here.



Spanish Colonial Art Museum-Santa Fe, New Mexico
Museum of International Folk Art- Santa Fe, New Mexico


Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (Gift Shop)- Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hispanic Folk Art Gallery- Ojo Caliente, New Mexico


Spanish Market 2016
E. Boyd Memorial Award
Museum Purchase Award - Collaboration Piece
with Onofre Lucero--Monstrance

2016 Sacred Heart Spanish Market
Our Lady of Guadalupe Award

2015 New Mexico State Fair
Third Place-Retablos

Best of Show
2015 New Mexico State Fair
Collaboration (with Onofre Lucero) Rosary Box

2014 La Fiesta de Colores, Guadalupe Vineyard’s Award
Best of Show, Santa Librada

Spanish Market 2013 Collaboration Award
for "La Sagrada Familia," created with Onofre Lucero Price
Click here to view this piece

2013 La Fiesta de Colores, Guadalupe Vineyard’s Award

2012 New Mexico State Fair

1st Place---Precious Metals

3rd Place at the 2012 Fiesta de Colores

New Mexico State Fair

Honorable Mention-Bultos-2011

Honorable Mention-Precious Metals-2011

First Place-Precious Metals-2010

Honorable Mention Bultos-2010

Honorable Mention Bultos-2008


The Traditional Spanish Market of Santa Fe-Donna Pedace

Santa Fe New Mexican Feature Picture for Winter Market-2011