Artist Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt and weaver Irvin Trujillo are 2018 Rounders Award recipients

For immediate release
Oct. 24, 2018
Media Contact: Kristie Garcia, Public Information Officer
New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Artist Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt and weaver Irvin Trujillo are 2018 Rounders Award recipients

(Santa Fe, New Mexico) – You may have seen Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt’s artwork at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. You may have seen Irvin Trujillo’s weaving at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Both men are recipients of the 2018 Rounders Award.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture presented the awards to Shufelt and Trujillo Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Governor’s Residence in Santa Fe.

The award is named after The Rounders, a classic western novel written by New Mexican Max Evans. Created in 1990 by former New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Frank DuBois, the purpose of the award is to honor those who live, promote and articulate the western way of life. This year’s recipients join 23 previous honorees, including Max Evans as the inaugural award recipient.

New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said Shufelt and Trujillo truly represent the western way of life.

“There’s no mistake that Shoofly’s artwork reflects the cowboy lifestyle, and Irvin’s weavings are symbolic of New Mexico’s culture and history,” said Witte. “We’re delighted to honor both men this year, as it is very well-deserved.”

Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt

Shufelt’s drawings are the result of 50 years in the saddle, working diligently as a cowboy enabling his soul to absorb the ranching culture. With consummate technique both dramatic and subtle, his art crystallizes the world of time honored ranching traditions: the animals, the action, the camaraderie, the isolation and the stillness. The artist’s subjects live in an intensified world of light, shadow and texture far beyond realism, yet so clearly defined, they make color seem a distraction.

“Cowboys are my heroes,” said Shufelt. “In the middle 1970s, it was advantageous for me to grow as an artist, and develop lifelong friendships to grasp a way of life where individuality, spirit and integrity are solidly hitched to tradition. What endures in art is content! An artist has to find it, preferably through originality. I never staged a theme to draw, but rather worked from the environmental and cultural involvement with my subject. Being a ‘good hand’ during roundups overrode amassing reference material for a drawing. My inspiration came from the shutter click of my camera in reaction to my mind’s eye, which was plugged straight to my heart. In other words, being a part of the action is the ‘cause and effect’ that inspired my art. It was long hours of hard work, whether sitting in my saddle or at my drawing board.”

Shoofly’s graphite drawings have become an important thread in the fabric of western art, earning the artist worldwide recognition. His work illuminates the bare bones of an artist’s craft and portrays the physical evidence of his perception. Celebrations of a dreamer who has allowed his dream to become reality with all its grit and honesty, yet the artist still finds the work endlessly interesting and satisfying. A vision of cowboys as they can only be around another cowboy, neither posed nor idealized.

“My cowboy friends practice their perception of superiority in whatever they do, leaving it up to the rest of us to determine whether they’re working or playing,” he said. “They are the disciples of the ‘Cowboy Way’ and the ‘Top Hands’ of my drawings. My work is forever honored and inspired through their trust and friendship. This is the only trophy I have ever really needed. I do appreciate your seeing fit to honor my work with a Rounders Award, which is significant to me of a favorite author and a beloved movie.”

Irvin Trujillo

Irvin Trujillo is a descendant of the Ortega family, whose family members were among the first Spanish settlers of Chimayo, New Mexico. His family has been weaving in Chimayo since Don Nicolas Gabriel Ortega began in 1729, and Don Juan Diego Trujillo began in 1750. A seventh generation weaver, Irvin learned how to weave from his father, Jacobo Ortega Trujillo, in 1965. His father also taught Irvin to wash, card, spin and dye wool, to make and warp the Rio Grande Loom and to design and finish a traditional Rio Grande frasada (blanket). As a boy, he also helped his father raise alfalfa, livestock, chile, corn, peaches and apples on the family farm located on Centinela Ranch in Chimayo.

In 1982, Irvin and his wife Lisa, along with Irvin’s father Jacobo, opened Centinela Traditional Arts as a weaving gallery and studio on his family land in Chimayo. The studio specializes in the use of natural-dyed and handspun Churro wool from sheep raised at Centinela by his sister Patricia Trujillo Oviedo. Many museums have collected Irvin’s weavings, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of American History. He received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 2007 and the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2015. Irvin has extended the weaving boundaries into the 21st Century as an innovator, while retaining the roots of Rio Grande weaving.

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