Santa Fe man questions Virgin Mary painting

virgin de guadalupe painting

SANTA FE (KRQE) – On a day honoring the Virgin Mary, some people are raising their voices in New Mexico over a painting of the Holy Mother. Millions of Catholics made the pilgramage to Mexico City for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival. It honors a depiction of the Virgin Mary believed to have miraculous origins, one of the most revered depictions of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism.

This week, a Santa Fe art gallery debuted a new take on Our Lady of Guadalupe. A bare-breasted Virgin Mary with what some people see as devil horns instead of a crescent moon.

Some don’t take issue with it, but others who saw the new painting for the first time are raising their eyebrows.

“Personally, it doesn’t offend me,” said William Metcalf, a Santa Fe resident.

“I don’t think that you should be playing with the saints the way they are right now, having them naked all over the place,” said Santa Fe resident Gavino Baca as he looked at the new painting.

The painting in question is called “Three Goddesses in One.” It shows an image of the Virgin de Guadalupe bare-breasted and adorned in a necklace of skulls in a black frame with points on the top of it. The painting is now on display at the Eye on the Mountain Art Gallery, a private gallery off Agua Fria Street near the Santa Fe Plaza.

“I’m pretty proud of this one … I think it came out very beautiful,” said Paz Winshtein, the artist who created the painting.

The Los Angeles based artist, Winshtein painted “Three Goddesses in One” for a new art gallery show tilted “Guadalupe” that debuted at the Eye on the Mountain Art Gallery on Friday. The artist says his intent was to wrap goddesses from other religions into a new take on the Virgin Mary.

“The skull necklace which is one of the symbols of the Hindu goddess Kali, then there’s the crescent, that’s like the ancient Egyptian goddess, Isis,” said Winshtein in reference to the black points on top of the frame.

But one Santa Fe Man says he wants the artwork gone.

“It doesn’t belong in this, in our community,” said Jose Villegas.

Villegas says the artwork is offensive to him and his faith. He sent a letter of protest to the gallery this week asking for the gallery to reevaluate its decision to display the art.

“It’s culturally insensitive, bottom line,” said Villegas.

Villegas helped lead some protests back in 2001 when artist Alma Lopez’s depiction of the Virgin de Guadalupe,  titled “Our Lady,” was hung in the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. The portrait featured a flower adorned Virgin de Guadalupe standing over a topless angel.

“Basically it’s all about respect and he violated those boundaries,” said Villegas about the work produced by Winshtein.

The art gallery’s owner Rachel Houseman says she isn’t planning on taking the painting down, citing freedom of speech and freedom of expression. So far, Houseman says she’s only gotten one complaint about the painting, that being from Villegas. Houseman says she hopes the painting gets people talking about the beloved religious figure.

“It’s just more about cultural understanding and just really talking things through about what it is that this symbol means to us,” said Houseman.

Villegas says he’s contacted a national religious group called “America Needs Fatima” about the painting. That group helped organize the Santa Fe art protests back in 2001. Villegas says he was told that the organization is evaluating its stance on this latest artwork.

The Eye on the Mountain Art Gallery says it plans on leaving the painting up through February as part of its exhibit showcasing different portraits of the Virgin de Guadalupe.

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