There and Back Again: A Stone Carver’s Tale
By Donna J. Volatile
When Ramon Cortina first laid eyes on the picturesque Northern New Mexican village of Truchas, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the famed Truchas Peaks, he knew this was home. It reminded him very much of the small village in the Basque country in Northern Spain where he was born.
Born out of the ashes of the Spanish Civil War, during the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Ramon was denied his birthright (being born Basque); and his family was promptly kicked out by the Spanish government and sent to Cuba for political reasons.
Ramon grew up in Havana, Cuba, under the dictatorship of President Fulencio Bastista, until eventually the Cuban Revolution came and once again his family was forced to flee.
Eventually they settled in Managua Nicaragua where they began anew. Life in Nicaragua was good; it wasn’t Cuba (which had become the closest thing they had to home), but there were many opportunities, even under the dictatorship of Anastacio Somoza… until the Sandinista Revolution came.
In one night, Ramon and his family lost everything again. Once more Ramon was forced to flee, this time to the United States, where he and his family sought political refugee status. Deciding that one civil war and two revolutions were enough, Ramon settled with his family in Miami, Florida, where he began working full time as an artist.
Life, as an artist, was good in Miami. Ramon had many clients and commissions: he designed a black onyx figurative sculpture for the Courvossier-Miami Collection and he designed and installed the handmade porcelain mosaic for Gloria Estefan’s (Miami Sound Machine) swimming pool and home. He also designed and installed a handmade mosaic for the Byzantine Church (Cleveland, Ohio). In addition, he worked extensively on the restoration of the two marble statues at the OAS compound in Washington, D.C., where he also performed restoration work on behalf of the Smithsonian.
After spending several years in Miami, Ramon decided he was ready for a life change; it was time to follow his heart. So, he loaded up his van, his carving tools and his dog, and he headed for New Mexico.
The Land of Enchantment
Ramon settled in Santa Fe and began working in earnest as an artist; only now he was determined to utilize his talents pursuing artistic endeavors that appealed to him and would allow him to continue to evolve as an artist.
Being a multi-faceted artist working in a variety of mediums including: sculpting (both realistic and figurative. Ramon learned to sculpt in the marble quarry in Carrera Italy, in the ‘60s.), painting (oils), wood carving and frame making, mosaic, and pottery, Ramon worked diligently, ultimately producing an incredible body of work. Eventually, he opened a small art restoration studio and gallery of his own and began showing his work on Canyon Road, Santa Fe’s main art hub. But after over 10 years on the Santa Fe art scene, he was finally ready to head for the Northern mountains, thus fulfilling his dream of living in the picturesque village of Truchas.
Ramon opened Cortina Fine Art Gallery in the fall of 2002, in the village of Truchas, New Mexico, where he presently lives and continues to work as an artist. Truchas is nicely situated on “The High Road to Taos”, nearly equal distance between Santa Fe and Taos, about 45 minutes in either direction. Over the years Truchas has become an art destination and now boasts several full-time art galleries, an antique store and museum, several bed and breakfasts (in addition to the general store and gas station) and, of course, some breath-taking vistas.
Ramon sums up his feelings for this village and the people who live here: “Life for the people here is a blend of sweat, perseverance, and endurance. They are strong and steadfast, not unlike the old adobe buildings which have stood for hundreds of years and will continue to stand for many more.” All of which is reflected in his art.
Cortina Fine Art
No. 24 Country Road 76
Truchas, New Mexico 87578.
Phone: (505) 689-1123.
To view all of Ramon Cortina’s artwork online, visit his online galleries at: The Works of Ramon Cortina
Love to you all,