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2017 Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement Recipient: Mel Rivera

Mel Rivera (Straw Appliqué, Innovations WIthin the Tradition for Straw Appliqué)

The Recipient for the 2017 Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement has been awarded to Mel Rivera, a 29-year participant of
Traditional Spanish Market.

Mel Rivera is a fourth-generation Santa Fean, and is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a degree in Business Administration. He first received recognition for his artwork in 1981 when he was doing woodcarving. After returning to Santa Fe area, however he became very interested in Straw applique, an art form dating back to the 1700s in New Mexico.

Modern straw applique derives from the ancient craft practiced in North Africa and introduced into Spain by the Moors. The art form adopted by Spanish artisans, who brought it to the Americas. In the upper Rio Grande, straw applique was used as a practical substitute for the more elaborated wood and mother-of -pearl inlay. Straw décor was originally used on boxes, wooden candleholders, picture frames and devotional wooden crosses.

Mel made his first straw applique cross in 1985, using only wheat straw. He continues to create new designs on traditional objects using only the core of the straw plant, a unique feature of his work. Over the past thirty-five years, Rivera has won countless awards in shows throughout the southwest, participated and received an award in Italy, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of many museums. He also had the honor of being selected to have his work purchased and displayed in the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

1987 – Horacio Valdez
1988 – Emilio and Senaida Romero
1989 – Paula and Eliseo Rodriguez
1990 – Leo Salazar
1991 – Angelina Delgado Martinez
1992 – Marie Romero Cash
1993 – Tomas Sena
1994 – Monica Sosaya Halford
1995 – Ben Ortega, Sr.
1996 – Frank Brito
1997 – Ricardo Lopez
1998 – Zoraida and Eulogio Ortega
1999 – Bonifacio Sandoval
2000 – Sabinita Lopez Ortiz
2001 – Cordelia Coronado (1988) and Eppie Archuleta (1990)
2002 – Carlos Santistevan
2003 – David C. de Baca
2004 – John Jimenez
2005 – Irvin Trujillo
2006 – Charles Carrillo
2007 – Felix Lopez
2008 – Ramon Jose Lopez
2009 – Gloria Lopez Cordova
2010 – Belarmino Esquibel
2011 – Ralph Sena
2012 – Arlene Cisneros Sena
2013 – Jimmy E. Trujillo
2014 – Debbie Carrillo
2015 – Lawrence Baca
2016 – Gustavo Victor Goler
2017 – Mel Rivera
2018 – Carlos José Otero

Robin Gavin