Monday, April 30, 2012

Mata Ortiz Effigy Dog by Carlos Villalaba

Hound Pottery Effigy by Carlos Villalaba
Carlos Villalaba is an outstanding effigy artisan who derives his inspiration from similar clay pots fashioned by the prehistoric potters of Paquime.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pottery Canteen by Angel Amaya

Mata Ortiz Pottery Canteen by Angel Amaya
Canteens have been utilized for thousands of years.  Before the introduction of metal and wood vessels, they were created from an assortment of materials including wood, ostrich eggs, animal bladders and skins, various gourds, and clay.    Contemporary ceramic canteens are still in vogue with many Southwestern Indian and Mata Ortiz artisans.   They are a challenge to make, but provide an excellent canvas for artistic expression.  In keeping with ancient tradition, most are decorated on the front side only; the backs are flattened to allow them to lie flat.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wedding Pottery Vase from Mata Ortiz by Jose Villa

Wedding Vase by Jose Villa 
This is an interesting variant wedding vase with one opening as opposed to the common two spouted version.  Mata Ortiz potter Jose Villa used bright paints and sgraffito etching to create this 4 1/2 inch masterwork exhibiting plant, fish, butterfly, and bird species.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cardinal Beauty by Vidal Corona of Mata Ortiz

Cardinal Pot by Vidal Corona
Vidal Corona stands out as one of the fantastic imaginative potters of Mata Ortiz.   He specializes in decorating his pots with birds which are often artistically designed in to make an  irregular pot lip.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Santa Clara Pueblo Redware Pot by Sophia Cata

Santa Clara potters are well known for deep carving into the surface of their high-polish, thick-walled black and redware. The elegantly simple traditional bear claw pot shown here is a classic example.
Santa Clara Redware Pot by Sophia Cata, circa 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Etched Frog Motifs from Mata Ortiz by Claudia Veloz

Small Ceramic Pot from Mata Ortiz, circa 2012
Claudia Veloz finished this small masterwork by deftly carving four whimsical frogs and scattered marks into the solid dark manganese based coating to expose the underlying natural white clay.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Traditional Zia Polychrome Olla by Elizabeth Medina

Polychrome Zia Olla Painted with Zia Bird and Floral Motifs, circa 2012
The Zia Pueblo is perched atop a mesa overlooking the Jemez River and spectacular scenic vistas. This north-central New Mexico tribe consists of only about 850 members. Their pottery production is limited, but prized by collectors and especially notable for very strong adherence to their own traditional cultural and historic identity unencumbered by European influence. The designs painted on the pot pictured above illustrate popular Zia motifs of centuries old popularity. The Zia bird is a representation of the common roadrunner.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jorge Corona Guillen's Double Rattlesnake Seed Pot

Mata Ortiz Double Rattlesnake Snake Seed Pot, circa 2012
This seed pot is both etched and painted in soft pastel colors in exacting Mata Ortiz style.  The body of the snake on the right has part of its length appearing to wind out from the pot interior.    The rattle of the snake on the left rests on the backside out of view in the image above.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Black Snake Pot from Mata Ortiz

Black on Balck Snake Pot by Olivia Dominguez, circa 2012
Here is another illustrious snake pot by Olivia Dominguez.   Snakes and lizards are common themes in her creations, but not all of her effigy snakes are venomous rattlers like this one.     

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Polychrome Mata Ortiz / Casas Grandes Vase

Small Polychrome Mata Ortiz Vase by Lucero Lopez Corona 
Casas Grandes (Mata Ortiz) pottery was inspired by the prehistorical pottery shards found in and around the ancient great city of Paquime, the center of the Casas Grande culture.  Its ruins can be found 15 miles north of the village of Mata Ortiz adjacent to the town of Nuevo Casa Grandes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rattlesnake through the Pottery Hole

Rattlesnake Pot by Olivia Dominguez
This thin-walled, softly glowing snake pot fashioned from locally gathered white clay and adorned with intricate ancient Paquime designs with paints prepared from area mineral pigments, exemplifies the supreme pottery skill of one of Mata Ortiz's many fine ceramic artists, Olivia Renteria Dominguez. It is the most elegant pottery creation I have ever seen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Owl Effigy from Mata Ortiz by Jose Corona

Owl Effigy by Jose Corona
Jose makes his owls from locally harvested white clay then he decorates them with red and black mineral oxide paints.  The 8 1/2 inch owl pictured above sits on a pottery ring.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

San Ildelfonso Today

Sandy and I decided to drive back to the Pueblo of San Ildelfonso this morning since it was closed to non-Indians on our last attempt. Today, the weather was brutally windy; nonetheless, we had a pleasant outing and found the Pueblo residents most welcoming.  The pueblo contains adobe buildings, a ceremonial kiva, a large central plaza, and a 1905 church built on the remains of a 17th-century mission church. San Ildefonso is famous for the technique of producing matte and polished black-on-black pottery popularized in the early 20th century by Maria and Julian Martinez. I acquired the 2 x 3 inch serpent-themed pottery vase pictured below at a pueblo shop owned and run by two well known traditional potters, Alfred Aguilar and his son.
San Ildelfonso Pueblo Pottery Vase by Alfred Aguilar, circa 2012

Church at the San Ildelfonso Pueblo

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mata Ortiz Pottery

Last week just off the main square in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I stepped into Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, a retail gallery specializing in the finest examples of Native American pottery of the Southwest, both historic and contemporary. They have an impressive collection from San Ildelfonso potter Maria Montoya Martinez (1887-1980) and other famed Native American potters of the past like the Hopi revivalist Nampeyo of Hano (1860-1942), and the originator of the modern storyteller figurine, Helen Cordero (1915-1994) of the Cochiti Pueblo.      What I found most impressive was what appeared to me to be the largest and most comprehensive display in the store, the pottery from the rural village of Mata Ortiz in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.  The story of Mata Ortiz pottery began with Juan Quezada (b. 1940)--now an international potter star and folk hero of his community--who, inspired by his finds of pottery shards from the ancient Casa Grande culture and its great city of Paquime, began making pottery in the early 1970's.   A chance discovery of his pots in Bob's Swap Shop in Deming, New Mexico in 1976 by anthropologist Spencer McCallum ultimately led to the master artisan.   The definitive history of Juan and those of his village who followed his path is well told in the book by Walter P. Parks pictured below. Today, throughout the Southwest, you will find commonly find Mata Ortiz pottery on display alongside with the pottery from the Pueblos of the Southwest USA .     

THE MIRACLE OF MATA ORTIZ by Walter P. Parks, 1993

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Acoma Pottery by L Vallo

Acoma Pottery by L. Vallo
click for enlargement
Unlike traditional Pueblo pottery shaped by hand,  pottery formed by pouring into a mold (sometimes referred to as greenware) to cast the final shape of the object is preferred by a few fine Acoma Pueblo artisans. Their artistic works are often just as intricate and dazzling on display, but nonetheless are less valuable and do not tend to appreciate in value like the traditional hand coiled pieces.   You may have noted that the pot on the right above is cracked.   It fell from my photo platform, but is glued together again to be shelf-displayed in my home as a salvage work of story value only.     Like the 3 inch pot on the left, it had a retail value about $22 before its unfortunately shattering fall today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tourists and Potter Vendors circa 1902

The postcard picture below portrays a beautiful and idealistic scene in the days when tourists stepped out of Santa Fe Railway Pullman cars in the Southwest to shop for Pueblo pottery. In contrast, the widespread and dominate era stereotype of Native Americans is revealed in the narrative on the back of the card.
1902 Fred Harvey Postcard 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Santo Domingo Pottery Bowl by Vicky Calabaza

Santo Domingo Rainbow Pattern Bowl by Vicky Calabaza
In the art world,  the Santo Domingo Pueblo is generally recognized for stone and shell jewelry, but a small group of contemporary potters are revered for their work hallmarked by a painted line around the rim with a small, but distinct break. They remain faithful to the centuries old methods of crafting then painting their utilitarian pieces with ancient, time honored designs.    

Zuni Pueblo Lizard Seed Pot by AA Peynetsa

4 inch tall Zuni Lizard Seed Pot by AA Peynetsa, circa 2009
I like Gregory Schaaf's summary statement from his book  Southern Pueblo Pottery 2,000 Artist Biographies,  "Today, Anderson is among the best contemporary Zuni pottery painters. he is noted for his "precise, flowing lines". He also is an excellent sculptor, applying relief figures as noted onto some of his pottery. His lizard figures seem to walk out of the surface of his pots, reminiscent of European master M.C. Escher. Anderson displays a bold and flowering style. His pottery is often quite innovative." 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pueblo Closed to Non-Indians

Today, Sandy and I left home to visit the Pueblo of San Ildefonso (Po-woh-ge-oweenge meaning "Where the water cuts through") located about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, NM.    However, we had to turn back at the entrance to the pueblo for today a the middle of the road sign read, "CLOSED TO NON-INDIANS."   We visited the nearby Nambe and Santa Clara Pueblos before returning home this evening.  From the highway leading to the Santa Clara Pueblo, I took this picture of the church below Black Mesa.   Please click on the panoramic image for a much better view.

Black Mesa and Church at San Illdefonso Pueblo

Nine Lizards on Pot Guard

Acoma Pueblo Lizard Motif Seed Pot by Nadine Mansfield
The elegant beauty of this Acoma pottery pot is so seductive to behold that the average viewer will think little of its utilitarian applications, but the guard role of these nine carnivorous lizards will not be lost on the naturalist.  Nadine Mansfield is a traditional Acoma potter specializing in lizard seed pots as well as black on white and polychrome ollas.  Here you can catch a video minute glimpse of her at work.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Consummate Potter - Robert Tenorio of the Santo Domingo (Kewa) Pueblo

Water Vessel by Santo Domingo Puebloan Potter Robert Tenorio
Santo Domingo (Kewa) potter Robert Tenorio (b. 1950) is a globally recognized consummate master of Native American pottery.   He began his illustrious career making stew bowls for his mother to use, soon thereafter, other women in his pueblo were asking for them.   Robert had early training in traditional pottery making from both his grandmother and great aunt complemented by academic instruction in ceramic arts at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe.   

Robert is inspired by history and heritage and he adheres tenaciously to the methods of his Puebloan forbearers.  He uses only natural materials and fires his wares, made from local clay digs, outdoors with curing heat produced by burning cottonwood bark.  He hand picks native plants to boil for making paints.   He is also known for producing some of the largest pieces of contemporary pueblo pottery.   

Robert Tenorio has been quoted as saying "...I'd rather see my pots being used, so I still make stew bowls and water jugs that you can actually use and wash. I try to keep my prices reasonable because I do not spend any money on materials. It comes from the earth and I have to share it. We ’re all striving for life, and pottery is bringing me and my family life. I feel I was put in this world to revive Santo Domingo pottery. And now that I've done that I feel good about it. I'm content. Everybody living will go, but my pots will stay here on this earth forever."

Flat View of 'Robert Tenorio's Water Vessel

Illustration of Puebloan Pottery Water Vessel from Report to the Smtihsonian Institute, circa 1879

Santa Clara Pueblo Wedding Vase by Pauline Marie

Polished Santa Clara Pueblo Black Pottery Wedding Vase by Pauline Marie
This thick walled, heavy wedding vase is the beautiful end product of Pauline Marie's traditional potter craft worked on clay harvested from the tribal pits of Kha'p'oo Owinge (Valley of the Wild Roses), the native name for New Mexico's Santa Clara Pueblo.    

Hopi Coiled Pottery by Chereen Nampeyo

Hopi Coiled Pottery Vessel by Chereen Nampeyo
Nampeyo (1860 to 1942) from the Hopi First Mesa was an internationally acclaimed potter.  She mastered the prehistoric Sikyatki style of pottery decoration (characterized by depictions of animals, faces, and geometric designs) by studying motifs on pottery pieces excavated from ruins.   Nampeyo's family name and traditions of pottery methods thrive onward in a delightful way through her daughters and grand descendants like Chereen who signs her pottery with her name and the cornstalk hallmark of her family. Chereen's adheres to the time honored traditional pottery creations of her family by using local clay sources and natural materials for painting her hand coiled pots.

Agnes Peynetsa's Frog Motif Seed Pot

Zuni Frog Motif Seed Pot by Agnes Peynetsa
Agnes Peynesta is one of Zuni's premiere potters.   She harvests her own clay, molds her work by hand, and makes her own paint.  However, unlike some of the strictly traditional potters, she uses an electric kiln for firing, a practice common in both Zuni and Acoma.    She has also done a very large frog-loaded beach ball size size version of this pot type priced at several thousand dollars

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jemez Pottery Moccasin Boot & Children by Diane Lucero

Jemez Pottery Moccasin Boot & Children by Diane Lucero
Here is a variation on the popular storyteller figurine.  Diane Lucero is a Jemez Pueblo potter who holds with tradition by preparing her own local clays, pit firing, and utilizing natural paints.   Buckskin boots are popular in the Rio Grande pueblos of New Mexico.

Frog Storyteller by JOHNNA HERRERA

Cochiti Frog Storyteller by Johnna  Herrera
Johnna Herrera (b 1989) creates high quality storyteller pottery figurines in time honored traditional style.  Her work is currently very affordable, but I expect will escalate over the next few years as her pieces continue to trickle into notable art galleries.

Isleta Pueblo Storyteller Pottery Figurine by Lynette Teller

Pueblo Storyteller Pottery Figurine by Lynette Teller circa 2011
Stella Teller and her 4 daughters of Isleta Pueblo are all well recognized potters.   Their own pottery website details family history, a picture gallery of their work, and an overview of some traditional methods they utilize in transforming local clay into works of fine art.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Owl Pottery Effigies from Zuni, Old and New

Contemporary Owl Effigy by Zuni Potter RK
I have been in search of contemporary owl effigies ever since I saw several from Zuni illustrated in the James Stevenson's 1879 report to the Smithsonian Institute.
Zuni Pueblo Owl Effigy Illustration from an 1879 Report to the Smithsonian Institute

Black Pottery by Erik Fender (Than Tsideh)

Than Tsideh (Erik Sunbird Fender) black -on-black pottery vase, circa 2011
San Ildefonso (pronounced San Ill-day-fon-so) is one of the smallest in population, but one of the best known New Mexico Pueblos because of the famous black-on-black pottery which originated there and helped revive their floundering economy in the 1920's.    I will have much more to say about this pueblo, but it has been a while since I've personally visited so I want to go again to update my information base.  Than Tsideh (Erik Sunbird Fender) is one San Idelfonso's sensational contemporary potters.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Isleta Pueblo Wedding Vase by RD Lucero

Traditional Native American wedding vases are typically constructed with opposite spouts joined by a handle to symbolize two lives coming together as one.  During the ceremony, the couple drink from the vessel filled with water or nectar which is usually prepared by a tribal medicine man.   
Isleta Wedding Vase by RD Lucero circa 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

ACOMA SEED POT by Charmae Natseway

If you have ever lost squash, pumpkin, or corn seeds to marauding winter mice or insects, you can appreciate the utility of pueblo seed pots especially in the days of old.   Acoma pottery Charmae Natseway is a contemporary superstar artisan of seed pot design and decor.

5.5 inch Acoma Pottery Seed Pot by Charmae Natseway
circa 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pueblo Pottery Stamps

click to enlarge
Issued in 1977 as the first in the American Folk Art Series, this block of 13 cent stamps commemorates the Pueblo pottery of New Mexico and Arizona Native Americans.

Visiting Isleta Pueblo

Yesterday Sandy and I visited the Pueblo of Isleta and bought one piece of pottery and one traditional Isleta lady's dress.   Alas, we found no one out decorating pottery; but, we did follow-up with an invigorating buffet luncheon at the Hard Rock Casino built by the tribe on Isleta land across the Rio Grande from the scenic old pueblo.  
 A Woman of Isleta Pueblo Decorating Pottery, Circa 1909