in front of their home on 502 1/2 Camino Sin Nombre
Santa Fe, New Mexico c. 1978
"Grandma Almeida's Kitchen"
Reynalda Almeida (1920-2000) was my maternal grandmother. She lavished her 22 grandchildren with time, love, and food. She was known by many as the best cook in Santa Fe. She made tortillas everyday and always had something simmering on the stove. She truly lived for her family. My sister and I were the only two grandchildren that did not live in Santa Fe. When we traveled and visited her she took us to the grocery store and let us fill a cart with whatever we wanted! She made me dolls out of rags and sewed little dresses for them. She always had a kind word for everyone and was unceasingly generous with everyone. Her six children took care of her in her later years and gave her around-the-clock care until she past away in 2000. I miss her terribly and think of her every day.
Grandma Almeida, Mieta, and my
Aunt Mary Ann
Galisteo, New Mexico
I was born and raised in the beautiful state of New Mexico. My family has been in the Galisteo Basin and other Spanish settlements around the New Mexico area for over 9 generations. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was surrounded by the paintings of both my grandfather and father. Their subjects were inevitably the churches, people, and landscapes of New Mexico. As a little girl, I spent many Saturday afternoons sitting in a chair beside my dad’s easel watching him paint. I would happily keep him company, chattering away and rubbing his soft brushes against my cheek. Soon, he would set me up with my own easel.
Another big influence in my art has been the memories and experiences I have had being part of a huge, beautiful extended family. San Pascual is my favorite saint to paint because of my love and memories of my grandma Reynalda Almeida. My greatest fortune in life has been being one of her 22 grandchildren. My grandma lived in a little adobe casita near Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The heart of my grandma’s home beat in the kitchen. As we drove to her home down the little hill street of Camino Sin Nombre, my heart fluttered with anticipation. She always had a pot simmering on the stove and open arms ready for her children and grandchildren. The rich smell of red chile would permeate the house while my Grandma would push my small hands into a floury bowl of tortilla dough. My Grandma Almeida embodied everything I believe to be true of Hispanic culture: love and value of family, generosity of home and spirit, and pride in who you are and where you come from.
I painted this retablo of my maternal great-grandmother Carmelita Anaya (1885-1981). Our family lovingly referred to her as "Mieta" a term of endearment meaning "my own." She was born in 1885 in Gallisteo, New Mexico where she lived her whole life. She married Serapio Anaya in 1905 and together they had 11 children. She was tragically widowed in 1942 when Serapio died mysteriously while working as a sheepherder in Alamosa. Carmelita supported her children working as a cook at the schoolhouse and as a midwife bringing more than 25 children into the world. She was also known as the local curandera, or traditional folk healer or shaman commonly known in Hispanic culture. She set many broken bones, treated various injuries and helped heal illnesses. I have painted her seated by 3 herbs native to New Mexico that she may have used in her healing: plumajillo, oregano, and manzanilla. As a promise to her father, she never cut her hair and she wore it braided and pinned up. Though I was too young to remember her well, all of her children and grandchildren tell me of her personal strength, of the kind smile she always wore and her love of life. See below to watch actual video footage of Mieta blessing her great granddaughter Stephanie Corriz.
Manuel Sousa Almeida (1914-1982)
Reynalda Anaya Almeida (1920-2000)
Grandpa Manuel Almeida, Reynalda Almeida and Carmelita Anaya.
Santa Fe and Galisteo, New Mexico.
“La Partera” or “The Midwife"
This piece was to honor my great grandmother, Carmelita Anaya or "Mieta". She was a midwife and curandera in Galisteo, New Mexico. When her daughter, Reynalda (my grandmother), would go into labor in Santa Fe, she would come from Galisteo to deliver her daughter's babies. There are two portraits hanging on the wall. The one on the left is the wedding picture of my grandparents. The other is the daguerreotype of Mieta and my great grandfather Serapio Anaya when they were young. I saw this painting hanging in my grandmother’s bedroom my whole life. To the right stands Mieta holding her medicine bag ready to leave the new mother and father. I have a mortar and pestle on the night table to symbolize the herbs Mieta used to heal people. She has used the herbs to make a chamomile tea for the new mother to drink. The father has come from the fields to hold his new baby and give thanks for the safety of his wife. Of course, a cross presides over the family and the mother clasps her rosary.
This painting embodies my experiences growing up around my huge extended Hispanic family. At the table sits my family enjoying a meal my Grandma Reynalda Almeida (1920-2000) has prepared. My grandma knew that good food always brings people together. On the left sits my grandpa Manuel Almeida (1914-1982). He worked in Los Alamos as a sheet metal worker and never missed a day of work. He is still wearing the tan uniform he wore to work everyday. Sitting to his left is my parents Tom and Betty Jean Shinas. My mom is holding me and my sister Rebecca stands to the side. The rest of the people at the table are aunts, uncles and cousins. Notice the children on the floor. My grandma's house was a little casita and we would jam pack the house and eat wherever there was space. To the right is my beautiful Grandma Almeida. Nothing made her happier than
seeing her family together. Hanging on the adobe wall to the left there hangs a picture of my great grandparents, Serapio and Carmelita Anaya. This picture represents the generations of family that came before me. The middle painting is of my grandparents home on 502 1/2 Camino Sin Nombre in Santa Fe. In the window of the painting there stands my Grandma with a grandchild waiting for more family to arrive. To the right there is a nicho with a statue of Santa Nino (or Christ child) the patron saint of children and families. This was my Grandma's favorite saint. She would sew clothes for him and pray to him to protect her family. This is my favorite piece because it represents the most important thing to my life: FAMILY.angs a picture of my great grandparents, Serapio and Carmelita Anaya. This picture represents the generations of family that came before me. The middle painting is of my grandparents home on 502 1/2 Camino Sin Nombre in Santa Fe. In the window of the painting there stands my Grandma with a grandchild waiting for more family to arrive. To the right there is a nicho with a statue of Santa Nino (or Christ child). This was my Grandma's favorite saint. She would sew clothes for him and pray to him to protect her family. This is my favorite piece because it represents the most important thing to my life: FAMILY.
I'm a "coyote" what people here in New Mexico call a child who is half ango and half Hispanic (half dog and half wolf). My mother is one of six children and all of my other Aunts and Uncle married Hispanic spouses. My Mom Betty Jean married un gringo grande as I lovingly call my dad Tom James Shinas Jr. In Santa Fe in 1968 Hispanics marrying anglos was not unheard of but not exactly the usual thing to see. Because my dad is an excellent musician he quickly won la familia over. There's one thing the Almeida Family loves is DANCING! My dad would play guitar at Christmas, birthday celebrations, and weddings. My grandparents are in the arch while aunts, uncles, and cousins dance. My grandparents house is on the wall.