First Art Studio on the Santa Fe Plaza

Carlos Vierra opened the first art studio on the Santa Fe plaza in 1904.

After recovering from tuberculosis Carlos Vierra opened an art studio on the plaza in 1904. He became Santa Fe’s first resident artist. On his canvas Vierra depicted the mission churches of New Mexico. His art highlighted the Pueblo Indian and Spanish Mission architecture. Vierra’s art brought New Mexico’s landscape alive.

Portuguese Descent

Carlos Vierra grew up in Moss Landing, Calif., a small community just north of Monterey. He was the son of a Portuguese sailor whose family had immigrated to America from the Azores. The men of his family had all been seamen. The ocean and life at sea inspired Vierra to become an artist. He studied art at the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco. When he was 20 he boarded a wooden ship bound for New York. His journey took him through the Cape of Good Hope below South America. After six months at sea Vierra had satisfied his adventures for a life at sea.

New York

Like most people trying to make it big in New York, Vierra struggled at first. Eventually, the young artist found his footing as a cartoonist and painter of marine scenes. But his life as in New York came to an abrupt end when he came down with a serious lung ailment. Vierra took heed of the medical advice from his doctor who recommended that he relocate to an aired climate. He moved to New Mexico and a new path opened for him. Vierra’s art created a genre that would become synonymous with New Mexico art.

A Long Life

Carlos Vierra died in Santa Fe in December 1937. Paul Walter, a former publisher of the Santa Fe New Mexican, wrote a tribute to his late friend on Dec. 12, 1937: “Carlos Vierra left an impression on Santa Fe that will endure for the ages.

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