November 18, 2004

Mexican religious art to fill gallery

A rare and varied collection of some of Mexico’s most cherished and historic works of art, miniature religious paintings known as retablos, will be on display in California State University, Sacramento’s University Library Gallery from Dec. 3 through Feb. 18.

Painting Cruz de Animas
Cruz de Animas

“Behind the Altar” will feature dozens of the small paintings of Catholic saints, biblical and other religious scenes. The works all come from the collection of San Francisco gallery owner Paul Thiebaud, son of Sacramento artist and Sacramento State alum Wayne Thiebaud.

Retablo is literally “behind the altar” in Spanish. The small paintings were created by mostly nameless artists during the 17th through 20th centuries. Depending on the era, the artists used tin, zinc, wood or copper as their canvas. Through the centuries, devout Catholics bought the small pieces of art to display in their homes in honor of their patron saints.

The collected works show the evolution of retablo art, beginning with early colonial works on copper to folk masterpieces painted onto tin plates.

An example would be the earthy piece Cruz de Animas, which features a somewhat eerie picture of the crucifixion of Christ along with a small image telling the story of Adam and Eve and, at its base, the fires of Hell.

An opening reception for the show is set for 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3 in the University Library Gallery. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

More information is available by calling (916) 278-4189. Media assistance is available from public affairs at (916) 278-6156.

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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu