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Horacio Valdez Portrait

Horacio Valdez

Also Known as: Horacio E. Valdez

Dixon, New Mexico 1929

Apodaca, New Mexico 1992

Photo Caption:
Copyright unknown

Luce Artist Quote

"I couldnt hold a hammer, but I could whittle." Horacio Valdez, quoted in Chuck and Jan Rosenak, Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia, 1990


Valdez, a carpenter for twenty-five years, had a nearly fatal job accident in 1974, during which his right hand was crushed. It was then that Valdez began to carve, "just to pass the time." He was fond of saying, "No hay mal, que por bien no venga" (Nothing bad ever happens without resulting in some good). A self-taught carver and painter, Valdez—who recalled being initiated as a member of the Penitente brotherhood the day following his first carving—was a devoutly religious man. Among the prolific artist's many carvings were more than 250 crucifixes.

Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)

Additional Biographies

Luce Artist Biography

A disabling accident in 1974 ended Horacio Valdez's career as a carpenter. That same year he was initiated into Los Hermanos Penitentes (the Penitent Brothers), an offshoot of the Franciscan order known for their practice of self-flagellation. Sculptures in the Penitentes chapel inspired Valdez to carve his religious figures.