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Artist Richard Serrano surrounded by his art and many collections in his home in 2017. Serrano, a longtime member of the city’s arts community, died Aug. 31 surrounded by friends, family and the people he loved.
ABOVE: Artist Richard Serrano surrounded by his art and many collections in his home in 2017. RIGHT: Jacques Serrano points to a lion’s head carved into the cinderblock wall that doubles as an art piece outside of his late brother’s home on Wednesday.
New Mexican file photo Javier Gallegos/The New Mexican
Rhonda Bodewhalte looks at the wall of glass artwork made by her late cousin, artist Richard Serrano, at the entrance of his home Wednesday. Richard Serrano died Aug. 31 after living with muscular dystrophy for years.
Jacques Serrano hands his cousin, Rhonda Bodewhalte, a small glass bottle containing bits of crushed colored glass and ashes of their late relative, Richard Serrano, on Wednesday outside of Richard Serrano’s home. Bodewhalte said the glass bottle, which originally was a piece of art made by Richard, is ‘the perfect urn.’
Jacques Serrano holds up a papier-mâché ram skull made by his late brother, artist Richard Serrano, Wednesday in front of Richard’s kitchen window that is lined with colored bottles and glass art. Jacques, wearing a Bruce Lee t-shirt, said Richard used to be able to do all the ‘Bruce Lee tricks’ when he was younger.
Jacques Serrano points to lion’s head carved into the cinderblock wall that doubles as an art piece outside of his late brother’s home on Wednesday. Serrano said he will soon begin looking to see how to get the wall, which is full of carved drawings made by Richard Serrano in the ’90s, historically preserved and possibly restored.

Artist Richard Serrano surrounded by his art and many collections in his home in 2017. Serrano, a longtime member of the city’s arts community, died Aug. 31 surrounded by friends, family and the people he loved.
ABOVE: Artist Richard Serrano surrounded by his art and many collections in his home in 2017. RIGHT: Jacques Serrano points to a lion’s head carved into the cinderblock wall that doubles as an art piece outside of his late brother’s home on Wednesday.
New Mexican file photo Javier Gallegos/The New Mexican
Rhonda Bodewhalte looks at the wall of glass artwork made by her late cousin, artist Richard Serrano, at the entrance of his home Wednesday. Richard Serrano died Aug. 31 after living with muscular dystrophy for years.
Jacques Serrano hands his cousin, Rhonda Bodewhalte, a small glass bottle containing bits of crushed colored glass and ashes of their late relative, Richard Serrano, on Wednesday outside of Richard Serrano’s home. Bodewhalte said the glass bottle, which originally was a piece of art made by Richard, is ‘the perfect urn.’
Jacques Serrano holds up a papier-mâché ram skull made by his late brother, artist Richard Serrano, Wednesday in front of Richard’s kitchen window that is lined with colored bottles and glass art. Jacques, wearing a Bruce Lee t-shirt, said Richard used to be able to do all the ‘Bruce Lee tricks’ when he was younger.
Jacques Serrano points to lion’s head carved into the cinderblock wall that doubles as an art piece outside of his late brother’s home on Wednesday. Serrano said he will soon begin looking to see how to get the wall, which is full of carved drawings made by Richard Serrano in the ’90s, historically preserved and possibly restored.
Richard Serrano was a man with many talents: philosopher, athlete, poet, artist.
And that was just the start.
His home holds memories of the things he did throughout his life — mountain biking, martial arts and gardening, to name just a few. His distinctive artwork is displayed there, too, including papier-mâché longhorn skulls, glass collages and detailed geometric paintings that date to the 1970s.
Serrano, a longtime member of the city’s arts community, died Aug. 31 — surrounded by friends, family and the people he loved. His family said he chose to go through a medically assisted death after 16 years living with muscular dystrophy.
He was 66.
He is survived by his mother Viola Serrano, younger brothers John and Jacques Serrano and an abundance of people who knew him and admired his work.
“He chose his time,” said Jacques Serrano. “Rick was the kind of guy that if you met him just once, you’d be captivated. Even the doctors and the nurses said they had never met a man like him. He touched every single one of them.”
His death was made possible by the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, passed during the 2021 state legislative session. The bill gives terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request medication to end their lives and help them avoid significant pain.
Since the bill went into effect in June 2021, the state has seen more than 100 uses of medically assisted death, according to a report published in June.
Though the process was difficult for Serrano’s family, they were supportive of his decision.
“Considering the circumstances, you know, I think of how strong and how brave he was,” said his cousin, Ronda Bodewaldt. “I looked at him on one of the days prior to that day and I just told him, ‘You are the captain of your own ship, and you are making a decision that can’t be easy, but I support you 100 percent.’ ”
Jacques Serrano said he hopes to help keep Richard’s memory alive by showing his work to the world and sharing his many stories.
“I want to put his talent and his artwork out there,” Jacques said. “I want his legacy as an artist to be bigger. … I want to get him as far as he can go.”
Over the years, Richard had his work displayed in many galleries and museums in Santa Fe, including El Museo Cultural De Santa Fe.
He featured straw appliqué work at the Traditional Spanish Market and won multiple Best in Fine Crafts awards for his glass work at the Contemporary Spanish Market in the early 2000s.
Jacques said he plans to donate some of his brother’s work in the coming months, and also wants to put together a book of his poems. He is planning an estate sale with things Richard Serrano made.
“It’s too much for me to have it all, you know,” Jacques said. “But if people buy a piece, maybe they will also get a little story about him to go along with it.”
On Wednesday, Jacques sat in Richard’s house, on the chair he once used, as the sun filtered through virtual walls of glass made of bottles and broken glass. He recalled what it was like growing up together.
“He was always there for me,” Jacques said. “I mean, even if it was just to go down to the park and play football or to play basketball in the back yard; practicing karate. So, yeah, he was a beautiful brother.”
Jacques said his brother had “always showed signs of being someone a little special and different.”
While attending Santa Fe High School, Richard was a bright student. Jacques said he could have done anything he wanted with his intelligence. He focused his efforts into art and athletics.
“He used to race mountain bikes, and was in sport levels where he was very competitive. When I was a kid, he was always with his high school friends in the front yard, breaking boards like Bruce Lee; he could literally do all that stuff,” Jacques recalled.
Richard’s cousin Gino Serrano recalled how he touched people’s lives.
“People just couldn’t get enough of this kind-hearted and generous, beautiful person,” he said. “I think about him a lot. It hasn’t been long that he’s been gone, but I mean, I just will never forget him.”
As a young adult, Richard regularly rode his bike up Hyde Park Road to the Santa Fe ski basin. Jacques Serrano recalled how his brother wanted to get back into biking when he turned 50, and he was determined to be able to make the ride up the mountainous trail again.
“ ‘I’m going to train again, I’m 50 years old, and I’m going to race mountain bikes one more time,’ ” Jacques said, remembering Richard’s words.
As they started training together, Jacques said his brother started to show early signs of illness when he was unable to move his foot off his bike’s pedal, which was locked onto his boot.
“He couldn’t unclick his right foot, and he was like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Jacques said. “And that was the first sign of the disease.”
Eventually, the illness progressed to the point that Richard could no longer do things on his own.
Sadly, when he got really sick, all his artwork stopped,” Jacques said. “Towards the end of his life, he was still writing poetry. That was the only artistic outlet he had.”
Even with his debilitating health issues, Serrano’s family said Richard lived his life to the fullest, right up until the very end.
His family remembered how he tried to appreciate the world around him, even on his last day on earth.
“I don’t know if magical is the right word, but it was almost sacred,” Bodewaldt recalled. “He walked that day, and he went over to a pond and down and picked up or picked out a little tiny plant, and he put it up to his nose. It was just like he was taking in every last moment.”
“He was soaking up everything the earth could give us, things we all take for granted,” Jacques added.
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