Born on October 31, 1930 in Mesitas, Colorado Rubel Jaramillo attended elementary school in Mesitas and went to the University of Maryland in 1961-62 for his military training. He is currently married to Margarita Jaramillo and has a daughter and a son: Nereyda and Carlitos. Rubel Jaramillo served in the United States military for 24 years.
Rubel's military service began in 1946. He served in the Korean war from 1949-1954 and in Vietnam from 1965 through 1967. He spent time in South America working as a CIA agent in Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Norway, and Germany. He began making Santos in 1970 after leaving the military VA hospital bed in 1970. He's continued to carve in his home workshop.
Rubel learned how to carve from his grandfather, Marcellino Martinez, a coffin maker in the San Luis Valley who predated the existence of any mortuary or professional mortician in the Valley. He's a fifth generation santero and was a member of the Hermandad. Rubel makes furniture, santos, and American Indian images. He feels his santos are a way of communicating with the higher power. Previously, he sold his work in galleries but decided against becoming mechanized in his work. He now accepts patrons only into his home. He doesn't annually attend any markets or art fairs and donates much of his work to local Hermandades and Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Conejos. Rubel has lectured about Santos to both religious and non-religious groups. He's been part of the Master Apprentice program of Colorado Council and the Arts to Randy Spillers, Father Rivera, Geronimo Olivas, and Sarah Sandoval.
SUBJECTS AND SOURCES
Rubel's favorite image and the image he most makes for patrons is the Crucifixion and the Resurrected Christ. To him what makes his work special is that he makes images of the Jesus. When asked what makes his work unique, he claims it's the communion he feels with other santeros and santeras such as Catherine Robles Shaw, Geronimo Olivas, and Carlos Atencio which make the work special. He has one religious art catalog of plaster of paris images which he uses a reference for iconographic symbols.
METHODS AND MATERIALS
Jaramillo uses traditional methods and materials in making his santos. He uses traditional pigments, pine wood, cottonwood root, and other woods such as cedar. He makes homemade gesso and uses carving tools, paint brushes, and traditional varnish from piñon sap and everclear.
Rubel Jaramillo has participated in the Colorado Council on the Arts Master Apprenctice program for six years and continues to mentor students who seek him out.