Expressive Color. QP Saints & Sinners

Night photo of signage in Espanola. Saints & Sinners.

Legendary Northern New Mexico businessman Dennis Salazar, best known as the founder of Española’s Saints and Sinners package liquor store — and onetime bar — died of Covid last year at 85.

He and his late brother Regino Salazar purchased what is now known as Saints and Sinners in 1962, said their younger brother David Salazar, a former owner of El Farol bar in Santa Fe who now runs a cigar shop.

David Salazar, 78, said his older brothers joked that they wanted their own bar because it was too expensive to go out otherwise.

“There was a lot of socializing at Saints,” David Salazar said Friday. “You’d see all kinds of people there from ordinary human beings to some that you sort of recognized, celebrities. But nobody ever made a big thing out of it. They were just another person that was there to do what they were going to do. Commiserate, celebrate, whatever.”

Dennis Salazar was known to stock a selection of fine liquor as well as the usual spirits. And family members said just the bar’s archetypal name and neon sign — depicting a devil and angel — made people stop and take pictures, and buy merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies, ball caps and even garters.

I first became aware of Saints & Sinners in the early eighties when one of my brothers lived in Taos. Famous or infamous? It was the only thing worth while in Espanola in his mind. It wasn’t till I moved to Santa Fe and dated someone who grew up and loved Espanola that I came to know a different Espanola. Still, Saints & Sinners was central to the story.

A night photo of the signage reflected on the adobe structure captured the symbolism of the name. Playing off the complementary saturated colors, red to purple, definitely an ominous ’sin’ feeling.

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