Friday, June 25, 2010

A Ceramic Greenware Lizard from Acoma

Sandy and I first met Lilly Salvador, a celebrated potter of Acoma, at a Native American art show in Santa Fe, New Mexico this year. She has a delightfully quaint little studio house across the street from the very modern Acoma cultural visitor center that sits just beyond shadow range below the ancient pueblo settlement now commonly referred to as Sky City. Francisco Vaquez de Coronado's army visited Acoma in the year 1540 when he and his soldiers became the first Europeans to enter the adobe village. He recorded, "One of the strongest ever seen, because the city was built on a high rock. The ascent was so difficult that we repented climbing to the top. The houses are three and four stories high. The people are of the same type as those in the province of Cibola (Zuni) and they have abundant supplies of maize, beans and turkeys like those of New Spain."

We had agreed to buy one of Lilly's pottery necklaces in progress when and subsequently made two trips to her home studio to fetch the completed work. Both times we failed to catch her, but one trip we salvaged in fun by pleasurable dining at the visitor center restaurant and by taking the guided tour of Sky City. However, we repented one trip for it is a long looping asphalt diversion from the Interstate. Last Saturday we finally caught up with Lilly at the Dancing Eagle Casino Art and Music Festival. Besides securing our much anticipated pottery necklace, we also bought the handsome pottery lizard pictured above. She crafted it from commercial greenware and mold. This divergence from tradition began in the 1980’s when some pueblo potters began to use commercial greenware and mold to make their pottery. These newer methods help meet demand, lower prices as compared to traditional pottery creations, and have been accepted by respected dealers and discriminating buyers. Lilly told me this 10x7 inch lizard would be priced about 5 fold greater or approximately $325, had she created it in the time honored ways of her ancestors.