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Welcome to the 2020 Arte Chicano Exhibit, the fifth version of this celebration of local Hispanic artists. The first Arte Chicano exhibit opened in 2016. It was conceived of and created by artist and gallery owner Diana Ingalls Leyba and former Museum Director, Carmen Vendelin and took place in conjunction with Día de los Muertos as a way of honoring Mexican-based traditions. Subsequent versions of Arte Chicano were curated by Diana Ingalls Leyba working with museum staff to be cohesive and reflective of the diverse talent found within our community.

This year the museum is happy to join Guest Curator, Diana Ingalls Leyba, once again in continuing the tradition of Arte Chicano, this time with a new director, team, and due to the recent pandemic- format. This year’s two artists are representative of two distinctly different styles of expression that both draw heavily on inspiration from their Chicano heritage. “Chris Alvarez’s rich lushly painted oils hang beautifully with Buck Burns varied expressions. Both artists are immensely talented and prolific; and it was great fun to hang the work in the ‘big’ gallery this year.” Diana says. And we at the Silver City Museum are happy and proud to bring their work to you in this new and exciting way.

This Year’s Artists

Click buttons below to view artist full profile

Buck Burns is a well-known local multi-media artist, actor, and co-owner of Manzanita Ridge. Buck describes his process:
“Once a project get going the new one is generating just in the back of my brain. Problem, I am horrible and procrastinate, a lot.”

Chris Alvarez is a native Silver Citian and is known for his inspiring and insightful depictions of everyday objects and scenery. Besides working in Silver City, he operates the Alvarez Gallery and Art School in downtown Colorado Springs.

Chris Alvarez

Chris grew up in Silver City, New Mexico where his artistic eye thrived in the magical light of our environment. His work is well known in Southwest NM for its romantic depiction of “ordinary” scenery. Inspired by his cousin, he began drawing at an early age. Instead of following his artistic passions, Chris took the path most traveled- and recommended by well-intentioned non-artist types- to pursue work that would keep art making his “side-gig” for nearly two decades. He experimented with and found some success in bartending. In an effort to “get his act together” he joined the US Army where he worked as an ophthalmic assistant. Following his time in the Army, he worked with at-risk youth in various settings. His teaching skills developed and his knowledge of Life grew, but art never stopped calling him. In 1998, Chris enrolled at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) where he earned a BA in Fine Art and graduated in 2001 with distinction. He began his teaching career in 2002.

Now a well-known figure drawing and painting teacher in the Pikes Peak region, Chris taught drawing at UCCS. After teaching a decade at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Chris opened the Alvarez Art School in 2010, where he teaches drawing and painting to adults and children. He has developed a holistic art program, which includes instruction in seeing, drawing, and painting techniques, exploration into the philosophies of being an artist and art making. 2018 brought some new and exciting changes to the Alvarez Gallery and Art School, which now includes a gallery and is located in downtown Colorado Springs.

Early influences include artists Sparky LeBold, Chuck Mardosz. Later influences include training by nationally known artists Skip Whitcomb, Matt Smith, Mary Dolf Wood, Eric Michaels, Kim English, Michael Mentler, and David Shevlino.

Chris’ work has won several awards, such as Plein Aire Magazine’s grand prize at the Paint Historic Manitou Paintout and the grand prize at Victor Celebrates the Arts Paintout. He was also featured in the April 2016 issue of Springs Magazine. He was featured in the Governor’s show in 2020.

Chris enjoys trail running, birding, juggling, and collecting vinyl records. If you visit the Alvarez Gallery and Art School in downtown Colorado Springs, be prepared to hang out and listen to his collection of records. Married, Chris is the father of two elfin children who remind him to pay attention, be present, and notice the beauty in everyday moments. He is represented by Diana Ingalls Leyba Studio and Gallery.

On Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

On Composition

On His Artistic Journey

On Exhibit- Chris Alvarez

Click on image to enlarge and see description.

Buck Burns

Buck Burns is a well-known local multimedia artist, actor, and co-owner of Manzanita Ridge. His bold use of color and expressionistic style is influenced in large part by Mexican folk art and often draws from the traditions and style of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) as well as other Mexican Catholic iconography and symbolism.

Buck’s predilection for the use of multimedia and found objects in his art comes born of necessity. His early years growing up in a very rural area with limited resources and opportunities for passive entertainment encouraged him to be creative with finding a variety of modes of self-expression. Although his talent was nurtured in a creative family environment the means to explore art in typical fashion was not available. So instead of focusing on “classical” mediums that might require expensive materials such as painting, Buck’s young mind developed new ways to express himself through manipulation of what materials he could find wether that be metal, wood, or even mud.

Spirituality is an important aspect to Buck’s work. His Catholic upbringing instilled him with a faith and belief in a higher power that has been a pillar of support throughout his life. It also exposed him to a visual lexicon that is referenced periodically throughout his work. Stunning depictions of the Virgin Mary are made in both life-size concrete and a single tortilla.

Another theme that runs strongly throughout Buck’s pieces is a fascination with all things related to the sanctity of the life/death duality. Skulls and scarabs adorn one outfit. Gender roles and mortality, the Great Equalizer, are explored in another. This theme is shown most strongly in his many references to Día de los Muertos. Buck credits his time in Silver City as having helped him to better understand some of the traditions and symbolism behind the annual celebration.

Buck’s work is more than just an expression of himself and his world, it is an embodiment. Everything he creates is imbibed with something personal to him. In both his subject matter and his various modes of expression pieces of his heart and soul are made visible, but they are also present in ways that a casual observer might not know. The stub of a cigarette in one sculpture, a prayer in another- the creations on display are the work of a man that gives of himself, both to his art and his community.

Buck Burns was recently recognized by the NM House of Representatives for his outstanding service to the health and well-being to the citizens of Grant County and the Town of Silver City through his formation of the “We Are Grant County”-Facebook page dedicated to finding help for those in need. The certificate, signed by the Speaker of the House, the Chief Clerk, and representative Rebecca Dow also commends creation of Christmas displays for downtown and a virtual children’s show.

On Adorning Death

On His Journey and Heritage

On Folk Figures, Memory, and Materials

On Exhibit- Buck Burns

Click on object to see collection of images

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Guest Curator: Diana Ingalls Leyba

My paintings come “off the wall” through a build up of layers and construction on the paint surface and I’ve begun to think of them as tapestries of paint.  Surface texture and depth is achieved through a layering of many different materials and transparencies with a constant of paint, paper, colored pencils, threads, and beads.  Images and symbols come from the everyday, from different cultures, and from within.

I am a literal person and pick imagery that evokes the universal in the personal or the sacred in the commonplace.  The models that pose for me stand in as symbols for ideas and feelings.  Juxtaposing images, whether people or animals or objects, set up a dialogue to be interpreted by the viewer.

A tapestry of interwoven brush strokes, layers of paper, paint, and thread have meaning or reason marking time in ritual form.  I respond to one color coming through another as well as one image coming through another so that one’s mind must sort its perceptions.  I enjoy the complexity of the surface.  The act of painting becomes ritual as the layers build to create the result.  Work as a stream of consciousness…work as spirituality…work to satisfy an aesthetic…”

Diana Ingalls Leyba was born in Georgetown Guyana, raised in Philadelphia PA getting her BFA at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University.  She relocated to Silver City, NM in 1996 works as an artist, operates an art supply store and art gallery, and is founder and director of the Youth Mural Program.

Thank You

We would like to thank all of our friends and contributors for their continuing support and especially to the Silver City Museum Society and all of its members for helping to make projects like this possible.

The hard work of many people went into the creation of this exhibit, both the live version (currently closed) and the virtual version shown here. Our gratitude goes out to long-term museum volunteer Ralph Gordon for his work on painting the Dodge Gallery, artist Sally Tilton for her help hanging the art, business owner and musician Brandon Perrault for providing the musical accompaniment to the videos.

We appreciate the museum staff that joined together to help the Silver City Museum make its first online exhibit: Collections Manager and Registrar Ashley Smith for helping to prepare the gallery and securing the artwork; Bart Roselli for his vision, time on camera, and museum leadership; Jo Lutz for her photography, videography, film editing, promotion and marketing support; Erin Griffith for the project management and web design.

Special thanks to our Guest Curator, artist Diana Ingalls Leyba for her role in choosing the featured art and artists as well as envisioning and hanging the show. We are honored to be able to present the work of these two phenomenal Chicano artists.

For more information on the Silver City Museum please visit to learn about our other exhibits, ongoing events and programs, large collection of historic Grant County photos and artifacts, and the unique selection of items in our online store.

Want to help out? Whether it be by giving monetary aid or sharing your time and skills, there are many ways to help the Silver City Museum serve Grant County!