Inez Russel

Object Stories: 

This Santo Niño statue belonged to my grandma Celia Gallegos Wallace, of Las Vegas, N.M. She was a devout Catholic and dedicated homemaker. I grew up in her house in Las Vegas, the same house my mother was raised in and that my grandmother came to as a child, when her mother Vicenta Garcia de Gallegos bought the house. I love this saint because Grandma scratched my mom's name on the bottom, indicating it would be hers after she died, and because it was on our home altar since I was a girl. It has been with me almost my entire life. The crocheted angel, my grandmother made, and the dirt, of course, is from Santuario de Chimayó. My personal altar is very important to me, blessing my home and connecting me to the past. 


Our neighborhood is a friendly one, where residents walk and admire each other's yards (those sunflowers!) and where we sit on the front porch and chat with each other. This porch, in the history of our house, is fairly new. My husband built it a few years ago, replacing a flower bed with bricks so we could save water and be able to sit and watch the street go by. I love the small table, which I found in a shed at my parents' ranch in Mora. In the backyard, the hollyhocks were grown from seeds from Mora, and the crosses were made by my son, who is self-taught. This yard is where we have had birthday parties, cookouts, First Communion and Confirmation and graduation parties. So many changes over the years.

Inside the house, our family has made a sanctuary, collecting the santos and Native drums of our heritage, and showing different branches of our family on the walls. The large painting is my great-great-grandmother; the photos to her right are my husband's parents. We have many memories of family and ancestors around us always.

Storied Streets: 

Our house is on an arroyo -- and close to parks and walking trails. As these photos show, people of the neighborhood and beyond use the parks and trails. We've been in our house 20 years and have done our share of walking, including in our arroyo that is not an official trail. In July of 2018, the arroyo was flooded, and the flood spread into the street and nearly washed our truck away. It stopped a few inches from spilling into our house and took our wall with it, floating down the arroyo. That flood is one of our most lasting memories of our 20 years in the neighborhood.