Governor’s Arts Awards September 19. The state hosts a reception and exhibition opening from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Governor’s Gallery on the fourth floor of the State Capitol—aka the Roundhouse. The handing out of awards begins at 5:15 p.m. at the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art. Both the awards ceremony and the gallery reception are free and open to the public.

QUICK! NAME THREE OF the most important living New Mexico artists. Now, muy pronto, come up with the most praiseworthy contributors to the arts. Not easy, is it, narrowing the field down to a small handful of worthies? Wisely, the state keeps up with the task by honoring key figures in the arts every year: September 19 marks the 41st annual celebration of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

The awards were established in 1974 by Governor Bruce King with First Lady Alice King to recognize the significance of the arts here. According to a 2014 report prepared by UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the cultural sector contributes $5.6 billion per year to the state’s economy. Nominations for the awards are accepted from individuals and organizations statewide, culminating in an exhibition and awards ceremony each fall. Painters, weavers, sculptors, ceramists, dancers, musicians, storytellers, poets, actors, playwrights, and authors have been honored with Governor’s Awards, the most prestigious of New Mexico’s arts prizes. A short list of former recipients includes: Maria Martínez, Tony Abeyta, Glenna Goodacre, Tony Hillerman, Georgia O’Keeffe, N. Scott Momaday, Tammy Garcia, and Robert Redford.

In the first of a two-part series, we look at three of 2014’s seven winners: Jean Anaya Moya, who carries on the historic art of straw appliqué from her home in the village of Galisteo; draftsman Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt, keeper of the Cowboy Way, from the tiny town of Hillsboro, in south-central New Mexico; and Santa Clara Pueblo’s Dr. Dave Warren, an advocate for Native arts and identity, recognized as a major contributor to the arts. Next month, look for profiles of Taos musician Robert Mirabal, Santa Fe sculptor Donald Redman, and southern New Mexico arts patrons Dr. Kent Jacobs and Sallie Ritter. Celebrity author George R. R. Martin is being honored as well—not only as the literary talent behind TV’s Game of Thrones, but for his role in revitalizing Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema as a community center for film arts. (See “Revival House,” p. 53, June 2014,

Straw appliqué art is the result of an adaptation made during New Mexico’s 200-year Spanish Colonial period, when resources were scarce and Catholic devotion deep. A variation on wood marquetry, it replaced ivory and other materials that weren’t available in this remote land with inlaid straw. The better-known santero tradition—the making of carved wooden saints based on a cultural memory of Spain’s Baroque religious art—is another profoundly New Mexican art form that developed during the Colonial period. Award winner Jean Anaya Moya combines the two genres in her work. She considers herself a santera as well as a straw appliqué artist, applying ornate straw motifs on top of her painted wooden panels and sculptures.

She studied at Santa Fe Community College, first with Jacqueline Nelson—who taught Moya how to make retablos, two-dimensional religious panels—then with master santero Felix Lopez, from whom she learned to carve wood into the figures of saints. Moya says she has “always been very religious. It just kind of fit: my religious culture and my art. My artwork evolved after I fell in love with the art of carving.” She’s been making bultos, the sculptural form of saints, for about six years now, “incorporating the straw, mixing all the mediums together.”

The artist, one of six children, represents the fourth generation of Galisteo natives; her three grown sons are generation number five. Moya recalls that she “always had a passion for the arts. Mom loved to paint and draw and made tooled leather belts and purses, but it was a little hard for her, with six kids; we kept her busy. She was my inspiration.” Further conversation with the artist reveals that Galisteo itself served to spark her creativity, even as a little girl. “This community has had so many artists who have inspired me,” including Agnes Martin, who used to live here; Woody Gwyn; watercolorist Herbert Gledhill (“We had a lot of his pieces growing up,” recalls Moya); and, of course, Fritz Scholder. “It was always all around me; I’ve been immersed in art all my life.” Artist Harmony Hammond is “a good friend, and a fellow fire department member.” Did we mention that Moya is the Galisteo Fire District’s chief?

World-renowned art critic (and Galisteo neighbor) Lucy Lippard has stated that she’s impressed by Moya’s innovations: “I use her work in lectures on more avant-garde subjects as an example of how experiment and tradition are not opposed, how they can be combined with fascinating results that reflect and inform New Mexican rural and religious culture.” Community runs in the Moya bloodline, and Jean Anaya Moya’s art reflects that deeply held sense of identity that results when culture, religion, and place meet within the object.

A professional illustrator’s sharp eye, a practiced hand, and a knowledge of his subject that comes from decades of following the ranching path give Robert Shufelt’s work a subtle but memorable luster. At age 79, he not only continues to work in his studio but also runs his ranch in Lake Valley, outside Hillsboro.

Give the man a pencil, some paper, and a cowboy on a horse, and he’s set. His black-and-white graphite-on-paper pieces are nearly photographic, prompting an intense effect of visual integrity. Christened “Shoofly” by his brother-in-law on a Verde Vaquero ride in Arizona in 1967, the young artist took lessons in drawing at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago long before he’d ever ridden the range. Despite a detour into football during his high school and college years, he found his way back to drawing when he noticed that something was missing. At the same time, he realized he’d always been attracted to the Western way of life. He moved his family to a “forlorn ranch in Arizona” and started illustrating some of his cowboy friends at work. Shufelt and wife, Julie, have lived and worked on ranches since the 1970s, and moved to New Mexico in 1990. Collector Barbara Jackson of Tucson notes, “He is truly a cowboy artist who has walked the walk. He has cowboyed with the best.”

Shoofly’s subjects are neither posed nor glamorized. Cowboying is backbreaking, thankless work, but it’s honest work, and that fits right in with Shufelt’s ethical code of never letting a drawing leave the studio unless it represents his best work. “Most of today’s cowboy art romanticizes and thus misrepresents the cowboy,” Shufelt says. “I know of no other labor which involves so much skill for so little pay as that of the professional cowboy.” Last year, he and his wife donated more than 130 framed pieces of his art to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, in Las Cruces, and they are now in perpetual exhibition. With this generous gift, Shufelt has preserved for future generations the everyday mechanics of today’s cowboy.

Retiring is out of the question for Shufelt. “As for today, I’d like to continue to draw forever, which is, no doubt, the thrust in any artist’s existence,” he says. “However, this award makes me feel buoyant and satisfied, and I thank all those who elevated my cause. Concerning what lies ahead, as long as I can see that little hole in the pencil sharpener, and pull myself onto the back of a horse, I’m good!”

Selected as a Major Contributor to the Arts this year for his leadership in arts education and scholarship, Dr. Dave Warren (Santa Clara Pueblo) received his doctorate from the Univeristy of New Mexico in 1955. The Arts Commission recognizes him for being “at the forefront of a movement to change policies aimed at destroying Native culture.” The historian has been instrumental in revitalizing indigenous cultural identity as an advocate for Native self-determination and awareness.

For over three decades, Warren was deeply involved with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), in Santa Fe, and was awarded an honorary doctorate there this past spring. He held several positions during his tenure, including director of curriculum and instruction, and acting president in 1978–79. Warren is the founding deputy director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, D.C. Now in his 80s, he was named a Santa Fe Living Treasure in 2013.

Asked about his numerous accomplishments, Dr. Warren said, “In everything I’ve done, I’ve been concerned that the Native American community be able to utilize its own unique resources, its own values, its own way of looking at life.”