José Dolores López was a skilled carpenter and furniture maker. Initially, he created painted domestic furnishings based on popular and imported Mexican furniture styles for his neighbors and friends. He was also skilled at creating delicate filigree silver jewelry common at the end of the nineteenth century. Encouraged by Anglo (a term used in the region to denote all persons of non-Hispanic, non-Indian heritage) settlers and visitors to New Mexico, López left his work unpainted and began to construct objects more in keeping with the Anglo way of life. His Screen Door [SAAM, 1989.30.3] is typical of the work he created for this market. Later, newcomers to the area encouraged him to create images of saints in this same unpainted, chip-carved manner. The widespread acclaim and successful sale of these religious objects encouraged members of his family and neighbors to begin carving in the same style. Led by his descendants, the Córdova carvers continue to create innovative objects, primarily in the manner ofJosé Dolores López.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)