David Alvarez, master woodcarver of contemporary large animals, began his career studying under Felipe Archuleta, the now deceased New Mexico wood carver of small animals and “bultos” (wooden religious figures used in shrines).
For three years he studied with and assisted Archuleta in creating sculpture for this growing market of animal wood carvings. He became his most repected and appreciative assistant, although it was not an easy apprenticeship at times. Words of encouragement were lacking from his teacher in addition to sometimes harsh instruction from Archuleta, “What’s the matter with your cabesa? Use your own mind; use your judgment. I’m getting too old to do these things anymore. You have to learn yourself.”
And this, in fact, was what David Alavarez did. Eventually, his own successful style emerged. David’s somewhat softer and less aggressive expression in the wood, actually became preferred by dealers and collectors alike.