Artist Richard Maldonado talks about his painting of ``The Lady
of Guadalupe'' on display in the lobby of RMCH. He has stong opinions about
the controversy in Santa Fe about the depiction of the Virgin Mary.
Photo by Jerry W. Kelley
Artist opposes 'Bikini Virgin'
Special to the Independent
GALLUP The furor over the digital image
of the Lady of Guadalupe has extended far beyond the walls of the Museum of
International Folk Art and the Santa Fe city limits. It has struck a chord
with Richard Maldonado, a Gallup resident who shares at least one thing in
common with the controversial Los Angeles artist Alma Lopez he has chosen
the famous image of the Virgin Mary as a subject for his artwork.
That, however, is where Maldonado parts company
Maldonado has been following the art controversy
since the Santa Fe museum put Lopez's computer generated image on exhibit.
The image features a photograph of a model, portraying the Lady of Guadalupe,
with a bare midriff and flowers covering strategic body parts. Like many who
have protested the museum exhibit's inclusion of the piece, Maldonado is deeply
offended by Lopez's image.
Maldonado, 54, contacted the Independent to
express his views on the controversy because he had recently completed his
own painting, "Our Lady of Guadalupe," which is on exhibit in the
lobby of the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital. The large oil painting,
displayed in an ornate, gilded frame, took six months to complete.
Maldonado said his painting was created with
reverence and devotion. His own mother died in 1960, he said, and since then,
he has looked to the Virgin Mary as a personal mother figure. "I just
love the lady," he said.
Maldonado is infuriated that Lopez, with her
Hispanic Catholic upbringing, would portray the Virgin Mary in such a manner.
"I believe in freedom of expression," he said, "but not that
far. You have to show some respect."
Catholics believe that the mother of Jesus revealed
herself to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian peasant, at Guadalupe, Mexico, in December
1531. They believe her image miraculously appeared on the Indian's cloak,
a garment that is still on display in the New Basilica of Guadalupe.
The Lady of Guadalupe's appearance was more
as a native Indian woman than as a European looking Madonna; as a result,
millions of Mexican Indian people converted to Catholicism after Juan Diego's
encounter, and the Catholic Church eventually named her Patroness of Mexico.
According to Maldonado, he has been painting
for only eight months; however, in that short time, he has created a number
of religious paintings. A friend of his, Sonny James, draws most of the images,
and Maldonado paints them.
Maldonado, retired for six years because of
health problems, is on oxygen much of the time, has to have his blood drawn
regularly and uses forearm crutches or a wheelchair for mobility. He has painted
only religious subjects out of gratitude to God for helping him with his medical
needs, he said.
"I always ask God for a lot of help, and
he always seems to come through for me," he said.
Maldonado's painting will be on display at the hospital until July 2.