Youth Market star Gabriel Duran moves int the adult category




Santa Fe New Mexican

Artist Profile

It may be Gabriel Duran’s first year being juried into Traditional Spanish Market as an adult, but this Española artist has been dominating the Youth Market since 2012. Duran began learning woodworking and jewelry making when he was just 6 years old. Two years later, he entered Traditional Spanish Market and has won an award every year since. He has received first place honors in ironwork, precious metals, furniture and furnishings, and woodcarving. In 2021 he took home Best of Show honors for a hand-hammered sterling concho belt and took second place in jewelry for a repoussé (hammered, low-relief) pendant of Our Lady of Guadalupe strung on turquoise beads. The graduating senior, who was identified as a gifted student in third grade says, “It’s always interesting to see a piece of metal turn into a shape like a heart or a face”. This year he says goodbye to Española Valley High School while at the same time earning an associate’s degree in business from Northern New Mexico College. Earning a college degree along with his high school diploma shows Duran’s work ethic, which carries over from school into his artwork. Preparing for Spanish Market and graduation is no easy feat, but the 18-year-old dedicates a few hours a day to jewelry making and woodworking. Duran is a fourth-generation woodworker. His great-grandfather began working with wood when he returned from World War II. He attended a Dixon trade school to learn his skills and passed down his craft to his descendants, including Gabriel’s father, Matt Duran. “I started with some of his tools,” Matt says. Gabriel has “always been around art since he was born,” says Matt. “I have been carving for 30 years and doing jewelry for 14. A lot of our friends do art too.” Gabriel wanted to follow in his family members’ footsteps. “I applied myself to learning all aspects of the mediums I was interested in,” he says. “I began by creating works of art in silver and wood. I then expanded my knowledge and creativity by learning to blacksmith and making knives.” Gabriel pulls inspiration from both traditional and contemporary Hispanic art. He’s benefited from viewing the diverse art collection at Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center, where Matt sits on the Collections Committee. Gabriel recalls seeing a Spanish comb at the museum and experimenting with its design on his kitchen table. Ten-time Traditional Spanish Market award-winning metalworker and blacksmith Ralph A. Sena also mentors Gabriel. Sensa has been involved with the Durans so long that he’s practically part of the family. In 2017 Gabriel took home second place for a metal knife forged from a tractor part, which he learned to make under Sena’s guidance. “He likes so many different things that it’s hard to know what he will do in the future,” Matt says. “But I taught him a trade so that he will always have something to fall back on.”