Texas Institute of Letters Finalist
Austin Public Library Award for Best Children's Book
Maria Paints the Hills
While living in Santa Fe in 1997, I regularly visited one of my favorite museums, the Museum of International Folk Art. How delighted I was when I saw a small exhibit there entitled, “A Kind and Gentle Life,” featuring what the artist Maria Hesch had called her “primitives in the style of Grandma Moses.” I was charmed by the images and immediately thought her work was perfect for a picture book.
Maria, a self-taught artist who was born in Santa Fe in 1909 and died there in 1994, was the daughter of Peregrina Delgado Campbell and James Conklin. Until her children “were grown up a bit,” Maria did not devote significant time to her art. Then, in her words, she “got the nerve to start.” She admired the work of another self-taught artist, Grandma Moses, because “her paintings tell stories.” Maria’s paintings do also. They tell the stories of the seasons and traditions of her rich northern New Mexico heritage, a heritage she helped to preserve.
“This little book is both children’s literature and history. The book includes color images of 17 paintings executed by Maria Hesch … A concurrent narrative of Maria’s imaginary life penned by Pat Mora, a respected author of children’s books, paints a charming verbal portrait from the perspective of a little girl….Maria Hesch (1909-1994) was a self-taught artist and is known as Santa Fe’s Grandma Moses. —New Mexico Magazine
“Maria Paints the Hills … offers readers a nostalgic look at Santa Fe. Illustrated with Maria Hesch’s paintings created in the early twentieth century, the picture book tells the story of a little girl whose dream of becoming an artist moves closer to reality when she receives her first box of paints.”—Albuquerque Journal North
“Maria Paints the Hills is a warm and playful book to read over and over so as to savor the magical imaginations of two gifted artists. Hold this book on your lap so everyone can enjoy Maria Hesch’s brilliant portrayals of our New Mexican way of life and Pat Mora’s words that flow like honey.”—Rudolfo Anaya