El Alba Magazine - Page 5

Shortly after graduating from high school, Mónica left a clerical job at the state capital and joined the Navy and became a WAVE. Arriving home in a Navy recruiter's car after taking the military test, “my mother went into shock upon hearing that I had joined the Navy.” Mónica reported to camp in Alameda, California after boot camp in Bainbridge, Maryland. “I had the distinction of being the first female to join the Navy from Santa Fe since the start of WWII.” Mónica worked as a Flight Orderly between Alameda and Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. A friend talked her into a college class in interior decorating at Berkeley. She was then transferred to Jacksonville, Florida flying to Guantanamo, Cuba and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Overall, Mónica served in the Navy from 1952 till 1956.

Mónica then returned to Santa Fe after all her travels, to try different occupations which were mostly unsuccessful; a sales clerk position lasted only two weeks. Then, as a hostess at La Fonda Hotel, where she met and married Richard Eugene Halford. “That is when I expanded my art, including landscape painting with Lorio Murice, sculpting with Jack Miller, making jewelry, as well as decorating furniture, painting retablos, painting on leather hides and creating retablos on tin. I also learned the reverse glass technique from Eliseo Rodríguez, who with his wife, Paula, were creating great straw applique crosses at the time.”

“Juanito Jiménez encouraged me to join Spanish Market in Santa Fe with two doors that I had painted. I also had a retablo I had painted with oils on tin. To my delight, a door was bought by Julian García, a prominent businessman from Albuquerque.”

María Hesch encouraged Mónica to learn to do colcha art and was taught by the highly celebrated, Carmen Espinoza, who had published a book on Colcha. “I credit María; because of her I have taught quite a few people, at least 150 students. That is where I first met Julia Gómez who has become a leader in the art of sabanilla weaving and colcha stitching, together we sponsored shows at the Rancho de las Golondrinas – and this is when I first saw Los Matachines; I almost felt hypnotized! The colors, the music, the rhythms and the dances were fascinating.”

Mónica at Spanish Market