A California native of Portuguese descent, Carlos Vierra studied and worked as a cartoonist in New York before lung disease forced his move to Santa Fe in 1904. He became Santa Fe’s first resident artist and thus founded the art colony. Vierra opened a photography and painting studio on the plaza and committed himself to recording local architecture before it disappeared. In 1914, Frank Springer commissioned him to paint all the mission churches at each pueblo. Consequently, along with Springer, architect John Gaw Meem and Edgar L. Hewitt, director of the Museum of New Mexico, Vierra can be credited with preserving in his paintings both Puebloan and “Santa Fe Style” architecture. Vierra also painted murals for the Museum of Fine Arts at Santa Fe (including using himself as the model for Christopher Columbus) and for the Panama-American International Exposition at San Diego in 1915.