About Our Website
"When Robert Arrington suggested creating a website for our store, we were truly ecstatic! We were familiar with his work and were big fans. We knew that we couldn't be in better hands! It was all new to us and he walked us through every step with complete support, understanding, and confidence. He wanted it to be a success as much as we did! Robert's knowledge and expertise is remarkable. We have a lot of unique artwork in our shop and he was able to capture the true beauty of each piece with such professionalism, accuracy, and passion. We could not be happier or more satisfied with the website that he created and we feel very fortunate that Robert was our website designer!"
- Debi Harden, El Nicho
About Our Website
The Little Shop on Don Gaspar Avenue
by Robert Arrington
At 61 degrees latitude, Anchorage, Alaska is a long way from Santa Fe, New Mexico! Perhaps that is why the red adobe landscapes of Santa Fe seemed so alluring to my spouse and me. We started visiting Santa Fe nearly ten years ago as a desert getaway.
We fell hard for the culture, the turquoise skies, the incredible New Mexican cuisine, the historical and artistic treasures, the smell of piñon firewood burning on a winter's night, the spiritual vibe and the friendly welcoming spirit of Santa Feans. As the saying goes, "you don't choose Santa Fe. Santa Fe chooses you." We realized over time that we were being “chosen” by the City Different, and each visit we only fell more in love with this 400-year-old Capitol city.
Several years ago we were on an evening stroll through Downtown Santa Fe and we spotted a wonderful little shop on Don Gaspar Avenue with windows full of whimsical handmade animals, hand-carved Santos and incredible sculptural dioramas of New Mexican rural scenes. We came back the next day and went home with several folk art animals hand-carved by legendary folk artist Joe Ortega. My spouse, who loves elephants, also commissioned Joe to create a folk art elephant, which was Ortega's very first elephant carving! I also fell in love with the miniature sculptures of Tim Prythero and the hand-carved angels of Louise Ortega and Angelo LaRouge. In fact, we joke that our Alaskan home is quickly becoming the satellite location for a second El Nicho!
During our last visit to El Nicho Debi and Bob, the store owners, mentioned to us that they didn’t have a website. Being a professional photographer and web designer, I offered my talents to help them gain an online presence so the shop and artists could reach a wider audience.
Photographing the folk art was a tremendous joy. For many of the pieces I used a macro lens, the same type of lens used by photographers to capture images of insects and flowers. The details of the pieces were simply amazing. The closer the camera zoomed in the more details would unfold.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet several of the legendary Master Folk Artists at their home studios. I visited Joe Ortega at his studio and marveled at the piles of driftwood that would be transformed into Santos and whimsical animals. Mary Agnes Ortega, the oldest daughter of folk art legend Ben Ortega, welcomed me into her home like a long lost family member and opened a treasure chest of heartwarming stories and beloved keepsakes. A visit to Pete Ortega’s studio revealed the meticulous attention to detail in every one of his carvings, and watching the process unfold was an unforgettable experience.
I am honored to have been a part of the ongoing legacy of El Nicho and I look forward to the next chapter as we plan to relocate to Santa Fe full-time. When we do, you will be sure to see the Alaskans hanging around the little shop on Don Gaspar Avenue.