the Governor's Arts Award Winners

Gustavo Victor Goler


2017 recipient, Artist, Master Santero/Spanish Colonial Bultos and Retablos

Raised in Santa Fe, Gustavo Victor Goler's early years were spent apprenticing in his family's conservation studios where he learned wood carving skills. Goler began carving Santos in high school as a hobby, creating a few pieces a year that he would give to family and friends.

In 1988, Goler was juried into Traditional Spanish Market where his high level of craftsmanship and innovative design have garnered him dozens of awards including being recognized in 2016 with a Master's Award for Lifetime Achievement, the highest honor given by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. "It is fair to say, that through his dedication and commitment Mr. Goler has become the Michelangelo of New Mexico's Spanish Colonial traditions," said James M. Long, the former chairman of the board of the Spanish Colonial Society. "I believe Mr. Goler has personally set a new standard of beauty and quality in the New Mexican Santero art world."

Goler is renowned for not only his art but his in-depth research of New Mexico Santeros. Along with his study of artists and their history, Goler has immersed himself in the history of saints and their iconography. In 2005, Goler exhibited a 17-year retrospective show of his personal work at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, and in 2011 he was honored by the Millicent Rogers Museum with a 25-year retrospective exhibition. He has also been honored in his hometown of Taos with a distinguished artist award for his achievements both in art, as well as conservation.

Goler led the technical restoration effort of the altar screen at Santa Cruz de la Canada. He designed the altar screen at Costilla and routinely offers his knowledge to other restoration efforts, such as the Nuestra Senora del Rosario church in Truchas.