Mary Cain's Indian Name is Blue Rain. She is one of the grand matriarchs of Santa Clara Pottery. Mary is the grandaughter of Serefina Tafoya and the daughter of Christina Naranjo. Mary began actively making pottery in the early 1930's. She learned pottery making from her grandmother who was the mother of both Camillo Tafoya and Margaret Tafoya. She makes traditional coiled pottery of clay obtained locally. She fires in the traditional way with wood and dung. The water serpent (Avanyu) and bear paw are her favorite designs. Mary makes both black and red pottery. Not only does she come from a tradition of famous potters, but she has passed her art on to several children and grandchildren as well, some of whom have become famous in their own right. Mary has won many awards at Indian Market and has participated in a number of exhibitions.
My name is Juanita Suazo Dubray. I am a potter from Taos Pueblo. I am descended from an unbroken line of Taos Pueblos Natives. I was born and raised on the Pueblo. Later, I attended an Albuquerque boarding school to study Art History, Native American Arts & History. In 1980, after working for several years as a pharmaceutical technician, I became interested in historical/ traditional Native American Micaceous pottery making. I began making pots using traditional designs and symbols. These pots were designed as one-of-a- kind, with ancient symbols being used in different ways on each piece. In recent years, I have been making contemporary designs and symbols on traditional pots made of micaceous and white clays. My signature patterns include the famous "Corn Designs", "Lizard", "Turtle" and "Kiva" (using cut-out steps with signature corn motif. The "Corn Designs" came to me in a dream 1986, after my daughter Nanette died in a tragic motorcycle accident. The Corn symbolizes my daughter's spirit and each Corn piece is infused with happiness, healing, love and beauty, which is passed on to those acquiring the pots. I also make "Storyteller Dolls" in micaceous clay. The figures include Mother and Father Storytellers and the Grandmother and Grandfather Storytellers. In 1991, I created a unique micaceous sculpture called "Circle of Love". My work has been shown in the following museums, private collections and galleries: Institute of American Indian Art (Santa Fe, NM), Millicent Rogers Museum (Taos, NM); Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ); Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (Albuquerque, NM); Lavonne and Charles Fisher (Minneapolis, MN); Rose Mary Medley (Dallas, TX); Nancy and Bob Andrews (Baldwin, NY); Museum of New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM) and many other collections. In addition, I have been in many shows and exhibits, including: Denver Indian Market (1988); Santa Fe Indian Market (1988); Eight Northern Pueblos Indian Market (1988, 1989, and 1992); Smithsonian Institution, Renwick Gallery in Washington DC (1992-93); and Taos Invites (1993). My work has also appeared in print (Taos Magazine, Santa Fe Magazine, Taos News, American International, Trailer Life Magazine), plus , Pueblo Artists Portraits; featured in book "All That Glitters". I have also contributed works to Futures for Children Benefit organized by Robert Redford and Goldie Hawn, and was featured in a Japanese documentary on Indian Art in New Mexico. See the artist's work
Anita Suazo is a full-blooded Pueblo Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo and comes from a long line of traditional Indian potters, she makes pots using the centuries-old Pueblo coiling techniques, that is, free hand, without a potter’s wheel. She also uses such traditional implements as polishing stones. When she was a small child, she began learning Santa Clara potting techniques from her mother, noted potter Belen Tapia. Except for a brief period when her five children were small, she has been making traditional Santa Clara pots ever since.
Today Anita crafts top-quality red carved, black carved, and black on black pottery. She uses only native clays, which she and her husband, Joseph who is also a Santa Clara Indian, dig from the soil of Santa Clara Pueblo. Anita decorated her pots with rain clouds, Kiva steps, water serpents, feathers, squash and other ancient stylized images. Her goal in her art is to preserve and pass on traditional designs and techniques which her people have used from many centuries.
Anita has taught traditional Indian pottery techniques in workshops for the University of New Mexico and University of California at Davis. Her finely crafted traditional pots have found buyers from all parts of the United States and are now in collections around the world, from Japan to Europe. In the words of Smithsonian Institution Assistant Curator William Merrill, she is indeed “ a contemporary master potter.” Awards and achievements include a black melon pot in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., a dozen or more first, second, and third-place awards at the annual SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe, including the “Best-in-Show” award for a black melon pot in 1985, dozens of awards at the annual Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Artists and Craftsman shows, exhibits in museums and galleries in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos.
I am of the Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa tribe. I started making pottery 40 years ago. I decided to stay within tradition but carve the pottery a little deeper with straight line cuts then outline the design to give it a shadow box effect. This is different from other Santa Clara pottery. The pottery that and my children I make is unique in it’s own way. The designs on my pottery are from the environment: earth, the Water Serpent, keeper of our water, clouds, rain, kiva steps, lightning, evergreens, etc. My mother Rosita and mother-in-law Faustina were my inspiration in learning how to make pottery. They showed me how to mix the clay, shape the pieces, carve, sand, polish and fire the final product. All of my children and grandchildren are now making pottery, each in their own style, carving, etching and making animals. I have received first and second place awards at the Southwest Indian Arts and Crafts market in Santa Fe, and Eight Northern Arts and Crafts show in New Mexico, Grand River Indian Artists Gathering in Grand Junction Colorado, shows in Scottsdale, Tucson, and Pueblo Grande in Arizona, and the Indian Art Show in Tacoma Washington. I am happy my children are carrying on the tradition of making Santa Clara pottery in our family style.
Madeline Naranjo is a fine young potter who combines an excellent polish with unusual carved designs. She is named for her grandmother (Madeline Naranjo) who is still a well respected potter. Madeline's husband is Adrian Garcia, the son of well known Santa Clara potters Effie and Orville Garcia. Adrian, who used to make sgrafitto style pottery, is completely involved in the pottery making process and has been responsible for many of their unusual designs. Madeline has been potting since 1991 when she was taught by her grandmother (her mother was not a potter). As a couple, Madeline and Adrian were instructed by a little known Santa Clara potter named Julie Gutierrez. Madeline makes the pots but both she and Adrian work on designing and carving. Madeline then does the cleaning and polishing and while they fire together, Adrian does most of the work. They have won awards at recent Santa Fe Indian Markets and has also found time to have three daughters.
Madeline and Adrian form their pottery in the traditional Tewa way...that is that the pot is formed from the clay found on tribal lands. The pot must then be hand shaped by coiling and the pottery must be fired in an open-air outdoor kiln using only wood or manure as fuel. It is the smoldering effect of the manure that is applied at the end of the firing that causes the pots to turn black.
Like all good Santa Clara pottery, the high gloss on this pot was achieved by polishing the surface with a smooth stone...a very tedious process. Three and sometimes as many as five layers of slip are applied to the smooth dried work, allowing a little time between coats to dry, and then followed by a lubricating coat of animal fat. The fat serves two purposes, one, it allows the stone to slide smoothly over the surface and two, it keeps the slip damp. Polishing stones are highly treasured and they will someday be passed on to her descendants.
Stella is the daughter of famed Santa Clara potter Teresita Naranjo who passed away in early 2000. Stella’s pottery is very much influenced by that of her mother with the exception that Stella makes primarily black ware and works on a somewhat smaller scale than did Teresita. One could say that Stella makes quintessential Santa Clara black ware and Stella has two potting daughters who share in her style: Denise Chavarria and Sunday Chavarria.
Denise is the daughter of well known potter Stella Chavarria and the granddaughter of famed potter Teresita Naranjo. Her work was reminiscent of Stella’s and Teresita’s for some years but in recent years she has developed her own characteristic style. She has entered Santa Fe Indian Market for many years and has won numerous awards. More information may be found in the Dillingham book “Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery” on page 229.
Julie Gutierrez was born in 1965 into the Santa Clara Pueblo. She began experimenting with pottery at the age of 12, back in 1977. Julie was inspired by her mother, Victoria Gutierrez who is known for her handmade bowls.
She was also inspired by Effie Garcia and Sally M. Gutierrez (sisters). They taught her all the fundamentals of working with natural clays and pigments so that she could continue the long lived tradition of working with clay.
Julie specializes in the contemporary and traditional, handmade Santa Clara pottery that is etched and crafted with authentic turquoise stones. She gathers all of her materials from within the Santa Clara Pueblo. She breaks down the clumps of clay to a fine powder form and mixes the clay with volcanic ash and water. She begins by forming snake like coils and begins building her pieces. Once the pottery has taken a vessel shape she sands her pieces for a fine smooth texture. Then, Julie hand etches her flowers and fires her pottery the traditional way, outdoors.
Julie’s trademark is the turquoise stones that she adds to the center of each rosette. She hand coils small animals, mushrooms, and several different shapes of vases and bowls.
I am from Jemez Pueblo, known as Walatowa, "the Place." I am a third generation potter. I have been making pottery for over twenty years. I make melon pots and incised pottery. I learned my skills from my mother, Ida Yepa and I have sisters that are potters also. My mother and I are in the fall 1998 issue of the Indian Artist Collector's Guide and in the publication, SOUTHERN PUEBLO POTTERY. Emma has received ribbons for her work at the Walatowa Arts and Crafts Show. In 2002 she received a blue ribbon at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Emma Yepa was born on May 13, 1968 and belongs to the Jemez, Cayote Clan. AWARDS: 2000, 1st; 2001, 2nd. Jemez Red Rocks Arts & Crafts Show. She Comes from a long line of Noted Jemez pueblo potters including her mother Ida Yepa, her grandmother Reyes Toya and her Aunt Alvina Yepa. Although young, Emma has over 20 years of pottery experience since she began the trade at the young age of 13.
EXHIBITIONS: 1997-present, Indian Market, Santa Fe; 1997-present, Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Art & Crafts Show; 1998-present, Southwest Museum Show, Los Angeles, CA
PUBLICATIONS: Indian market Magazine 1998:100
Marilyn Ray’s pottery making was inspired by her late grandmother, Dolores S. Sanchez. When Marilyn was twelve Dolores began teaching her granddaughter all about pottery and would allow her to make small animal figurines with her clay. Marilyn sold her small work along side that of her grandmother earning money for her school clothing.
From the beginning, Marilyn accompanied her grandparents to mine the clay and to gather a variety of adobe needed to make paints. They always encouraged her to use natural materials that were abundant and to use the sacred earth to make a living. Patience, practice and motivation are important factors for the development of a potters skills. Motivation for Marilyn came when her grandmother gave her a very special stone. The basic colors for which Acoma potters are known, black, orange and white, bored Marilyn. She experimented with colored clay slips and in the course of four years found 12 new colors worthy of use on her figures.
Female figures represent a grandmother or mother singing or telling stories to children. Playful figures of tree swings, and friendship bowls are inspired by her own children, nieces and nephews who play with the animals, climb the trees, and who go bird hunting on the water cisterns with slingshots .
Marilyn’s claim to notoriety started with the completion of a large storyteller in 1979. The following year she won an honorable mention award for a nativity set at the New Mexico State Fair. Today Marilyn’s storytellers are considered collectors items. They are featured in several books and magazines including “Storytellers and other figurative Pottery” by Douglas Congdon-Martin. In January 1993, her work made it to an Albuquerque billboard.
Marilyn tries to work on figurines at least 6 hours a day and also tends to her family. It takes a lot of dedicated time and patience to prepare for a show. She typically does three shows a year, The Heard Show in Phoenix, The eight Northern Pueblos, At San Juan Pueblo and the famous Santa Fe Indian Market. She has won awards at each show and hopes to continue doing so for a long time. She says she has only her grandmother Dolores and mother earth to thank for her success.
Juanita Martinez was born and raised at Jemez Pueblo but married into Taos Pueblo many years ago. She is truly a member of both communities and because of this she uses Jemez clay for some of her storytellers and Taos, Micacious clay on others. She uses subtle natural colors of earth tones and prefers the more primitive style that characterized the first storytellers. She makes very small, miniature storytellers and storyteller Christmas ornaments as well as Kiva bowls and Nativity sets. She puts many children on her storytellers and often does Grandfather storytellers to honor her own grandfather who was a storyteller. Juanita learned to make pottery by watching her mother make pottery and she learned to be thankful for the raw materials. “When we get our clay, we have to pray before we take it. Corn meal is used in the ceremony and the prayer is said before any digging takes place.
She follows another Jemez tradition, “I talk to my clay. I say I hope you will make your new family happy wherever you go. I hope your new people will think of our Indian ways and that you will give them blessings.”.
Most storytellers are made as standing or sitting figures. Lately, Martinez has been shaping lounging storytellers, as if resting under a hot afternoon . The eyes are closed because, “ she's seeing the story in her mind as she tells it to the children, according to Juanita.
MARGARET QUINTANA is a Cheyenne Indian who married into a pueblo family and has become one of the most recognized storyteller artisans. She is known for using the micacious clay from the Taos area. The tiny flecks of sparkling mica in the clay suit her whimsical, colorful style.
When she was growing up in Watonga, Oklahoma, Margaret Behan never pictured herself making storyteller dolls, and certainly not becoming famous for them. Neither Cheyenne nor Arapaho tradition included maing dolls from clay, and Margaret, daughter of an Arapaho father and Cheyenne mother, was taught to work with beads and leather as part of her early education.
During her high school years at Chilacco Boarding School, Jr. College in Weatherford, Ok, and finally, two years at Brigham Young University where she studied accounting, her thoughts were far from a career as an artist.
All of that changed, however, when in 1971 she married Paul Quintana and went with him to live at his home in the Pueblo of Cochiti in Northern New Mexico. As a result of her accounting background, Margaret was hired by the Bureau of Indian Afairs in Albuquerque, where she worked for about ten years. Then one day, her mother-in-law, Margaret Ortiz Quintana, happened to observe her making a pair of beaded moccasins. Pleased and somewhat astonished by Margaret's obvious adeptness and creativity, Mrs. Quintana encouraged her to learn the art of working with clay. "She told me I had good hands and could work fast and that I could work fast and not have to buy my materials. In 1982, Margaret quit her job and worked full time on her new career.
In 1984 Margaret moved to Taos, New Mexico because she liked the micaceous clay and thought it would give her dolls a different look. Quintana does the entire process herself, starting from scratch. She mixes her own clay, molds the dolls, paints and fires them.
In addition to dolls, she makes card holders, storyteller jewelry and paper castings. Of the jewelry she says, “I designed the necklaces and earrings so that the person wearing them could become her own storyteller.” recently she has bee writing children’s stories for publication.
Mary Lucero is from Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico. She uses traditional Jemez pottery colors on her storytellers and uses the red clay from her own area as is traditional for Pueblo Potters.
She is known for care and detail in her work and also for being very innovative and imaginative in her designs. Her figures are very appealing. She captures the nature of small children and the warmth of a grandparent or elder passing on the precious traditions of the tribe by way of the stories.
She makes Santa Claus Storytellers, and Nativity sets also. Recently she has added “The Journey” of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child to her repertoire.
Mary’s daughters Joyce and Diane are carrying on her tradition.
Vangie Suina's career as a potter began because she didn't wish to be away from her infant daughter all day. The importance of family is now lovingly expressed in her charming storytellers hand molded from native clay.
Vangie's mother, Cochiti potter Louise Suina encouraged her to develop her own style. "She showed me everything, how to mix the clay, how to shape it, and then the firing," remembers Vanie. She uses clay and sand from the Pueblo and open fires her pieces in the old way. "I pray to the Clay Mother, and Father Spirit every time before firing. Sometimes a whole firing will break if the clay doesn't have the right amount of sand or is improperly mixed."
Over the years Vanie has added many of her own innovations. She makes donkey, turtle, and moccasin storytellers with kids all over them. She also adds such objects as books and baseball bats.
Vangie has entered Santa Fe Indian Market every year since 1981. Usually, she sells out on the first day. She has won many awards for her storytellers and she never seems to run out of new ideas. Her husband Anthony often helps her with her work. "That's what people appreciate, the fact that we are always creating something new and original."
Thomas Singer is a Navajo Indian from Winslow, Arizona. He grew up in the small community of Dilcon on the Navajo Reservation. Mr. Singer uses Sterling silver and turquoise to create artistic expressions of Navajo traditional ways. He states, "I make jewelry out of silver, every piece is made with the meanings from my traditional ways--the Navajo way of living. My father was a silversmith. He taught me and wanted me to continue this trade. It was my father's dream that I learn to silversmiith so that I can continue his belief." In the 1960's Singer became famous for inventing the use of turquoise and coral chips in silverwork. This method of design is referred to as "chip-inlay." So successful was this invention that many Navajo craftsmen copy the method and every Indian jewelry store carries some form of chip-inlay. Mr. Singer's work is well known internationally. His work is featured in a number of Indian art publications. One can easily recognize Thomas' work. He marks his finished pieces with "T. Singer" or with "T and a crescent moon." Whether Mr. Singer creates a bolo tie, buckle ,ring or bracelet, he states that, "All my jewelry is made to satisfy my customers. Each piece is unique and is made very different. I try hard to make different styles and designs of my jewelry."
Wilford Begay Wilford Begay is from the high desert area of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. Born to the Red House Clan and for the Coyote Pass Clan, Wilford Begay's heritage is strong in silversmithing. His great-great-grandfather, whom he knew well, was an accomplished silversmith, as is his father. Over the past five years he has won three first place awards in the Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonials with his distinctive and beautifully done Early Morning Kachina renditions.
Wilford made his first pair of silver earrings when he was about twelve years old, and continued dabbling in the jewelry business throughout high school and college. One of his most influential teachers was Tony Goldtooth. After earning his Silversmithing Certificate, Wilford detoured into law enforcement and worked for the Navajo Police in Shiprock, New Mexico, and Chinle, Arizona. For four and a one-half years he was on the police force, all the while tinkering with silversmithing on the side. Then, with his wife's support, he got up the courage to quit his full time employment to do what he loves most- working with silver. "It's a good job," Wilford testifies, and then, as a testimonial to his skill he adds, "It pays me a lot."
Although Wilford can do most anything another silversmith can do, he prefers working on Kachina dolls, which are his specialty. "I was told by my medicine man I'm not supposed to be doing the Navajo kachinas-the Yei bi Chei," Wilford explains. "Anything to do with the Navajo I don't do. Hopis I can do." An Eagle Kachina was his all-time favorite piece, although the Early Morning Kachinas have won him acclaim. Working out of his home, Wilford first sketches the patterns he will use, then he cuts the body pieces. Working on one project at a time, Wilford molds the parts by soldering them together. Then he does his inlay work, using a variety of traditional stones, including turquoise to jet. He finishes each piece by putting a high polish on it.
Wilford is presently experimenting with a newly developed process called "silver sculpting," a combination of sand casting and carving. A touch of this may be on his more recent pieces. Wilford signs his work with a stamped arrowhead, usually found on the back of the kachina's head. Every year Wilford's Medicine Man - his uncle- performs a three day Beauty Way ceremony for him, to cleanse his body, mind, and spirit; and to make him strong for the coming year's challenges. This strength is found in Wilford's distinctive kachinas.
Troy Anderson was born in Siloam Springs Arkansas and raised in northeastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. A setting which is rich in history and beautiful scenergy. This unique area helped to inspire him to become an artist at an early age. He still makes this area his home. Troy is a graduate of West Texas State university and member of the American Indian and Cowboy Artist, Inc., listed in who's who in American art, and Soutwest Art Contemporary Western Artists, and Master Artist of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. Troy has painted and taught art professionally, participated in numerous invitational and juried art shows, and won several top awards including: Five Civilized Tribes Museium, Cherokee Heritage Museum, Red Earth, Heard Museum, Best of Category in the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial, Southwest Indian Market, Colorado Indian Market, Philbrook Museum, AICA San Dimas Festival of Western Art, Cherokee Museum and others. In 1975 he received a commendation by the 75th Arkansas General Assembly , exhibited in the Arkansas State Capital, and presented a painting to the State of Arkansas. He designed the Cherokee Trail of Tears Sesquicentennial Commemorative Medallion and the Ambassador of the Year Award for the Center of the American Indian in Oklahoma City. he served as president of the American Indian and Cowboy Artist, Inc., and on the board of directors for the Five Civilized Tribes Museum.
Bob Thomason credits his growing up in Oklahoma, once known as Indian Territory, and his Cherokee heritage as major inspirations to his preserving the folklore and history of America through his paintings. From the Native American and wildlife subjects, to the unique character of the Thomason "Mountain Men" - through one-man exhibits and gallery shows across the country, as well as International exhibits, Bob continues to capture the rare qualities of this Country's rich heritage in such a way as to draw growing public acclaim.
Bob approaches his subject and actual painting with the confidence of a God-given talent and an intense appetite for learning. "I believe I will always be an artist-in-progress, trying to raise my art to the next higher level, with self-imposed demands for excellence that, at times, seem unattainable but, perhaps, one day, I may get close. I never feel completely comfortable when I begin a painting. There's nothing easy about it, but I love having experienced the creative process and hopefully, by this experience, I've gained some isight for the creation of my next painting."
Terrence J. Murphy has been a sculptor for 33 years, specializing in the North American Indian and western themes of wildlife and sporting arts. Terrence is a fourth generation Montanan. The benefits of life in Montana are very apparent in his being a sculptor-sportsman. Terrence is self-taught, studying the masters of sculpture from the past to the present. He was inspired to start sculpting in 1971 and devotes his full time to the art of sculpture. All the realistic and pleasing effects that are so satisfying in his work are the result of careful planning, based on strong design and a lifetime of observation.
Master knife maker, Rocky Fleetwood is a member of the Creek Indian Nation. His Indian Name, “Chu To”, was given to him by his grandmother and it means,”Rocky Ground” in the Creek language. Rocky uses Deer and Elk antlers for the handles and display stands for his knives. Images of bears and other wild animals are hand cared into the handles. He uses real turquoise for the inlayed portions of the knife handles. He usually adorns the larger pieces with a black bear claw, and Occasionally Grizzly claw. The blades are made from 440-C stainless steel. Rocky often decorates the blades of his knives with elaborate acid etched designs.
Ted Miller is an American Indian Artisan, Miami-Peoria-Cherokee, who has won over fifty significant awards. His carvings are images of his heritage and culture of stories passed down. For the discriminating collector, the work of Ted Miller offers the ultimate in arts acquisition—beauty and history skillfully meshed with utility. Both handles and blades are expertly handcrafted to combine beauty with strength. Made of 440C stainless steel, 56-60 Rockwell, and shed stage antler enhanced with semiprecious stones. Ted Miller is a member of the Peoria Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, Roll Number 1201.
Artist Norman Lansing of the Ute Mountain tribe was born in 1950 in Towaoc, Colorado. His formal education included the study of art at both Fort Lewis College and Haskell Junior College. In addition to his art, Norman enjoys time with his family. Norman’s intent with his works of art is to share and express the gift that has been given to him, and also to touch those who can understand the spiritual message that flows through him and his art.
Darrell Bedoni is Navajo but learned to make traditional love flutes from John Rainer of Taos Pueblo, a celebrated flute player. At that time he was studying music at Brigham Young University. In 1984 he begain designing and crafting original Contemporary Love Flutes and Medicine Man Whistles. He takes particular care with the sound of his flutes. Darrell provides a small instructional booklet to help people learn to play the Love flutes when they purchase one.
Native American Sculptor, James Joe Jr. is a member of the Navajo Nation. He was born and raised in Shiprock, a small community in the northwest corner of New Mexico. His parents are James and Alice Joe.
James has been sculpting alabaster for many years. In the late 1980's, his younger brother Daniel, introduced the art form to him. James has had no formal training in this field. He and his family are well nown in the area for their sculpting abilities
James considers his sculptures to be contemporary. Most of his sculptures feature Anasazi ruins (Ancient Pueblo Cliff Dwellings in the four corners area) with a spiritual ascention of the people on eagle wings. James adorns his sculptures with Kokopelli dancers, bear fetishes and other petroglyph and abstract designs for detail.
Ernesto Salazar is the older brother of Leonardo. He also learned to make images of saints from cedar from their father Leo. Although Ernesto doesn't carve full time as his brother does, he is known for his expressive use of the natural shapes of the branches of cedar. It is as if the wood itself was metamorphizing into a saint.
Leonardo G. Salazar was born in Taos, New Mexico June 3, 1966. He is the son of the well known Santero Leo Salazar who is now deceased. Leo Salazar, was an avid teacher and inspiration to his sons, three of whom went on to adopt his craft – Miguel (who died in 1986), Ernesto and Leonardo. Under his father’s guidance, Leonardo began carving at age six. Rather than assigning chores after school, the elder Salazar encouraged his boys to carve. By the time he was eight, Leonardo was selling small, primitive Santos n Taos Plaza. By age 12 he began to develop his own style. At 16 he won first prize in his category at the Spanish Folk Art Festival in Santa Fe and sold his first museum piece to the International Folk Art Museum. His years in the Fine Arts Program at the College of Santa Fe (1986-88) caused him to re-examine his craft as an art form. Having already been trained to view objects and nature with the eye of an artist, he then began to explore the philosophical roots of the Santero’s work. The universal religious content of the art form along with its 16th century Hispanic origins took on greater significance to Leonardo. While experimenting with various other media, he always came back to his father’s craft. Leonardo’s Santos take on imaginative and inspiring forms as their images emerge from the colorful, twisted wood. Following family tradition, St. Francis and Moses are popular subjects, as well as the Good Shepherd, St. Jude and the Virgin Mary. The traditional santos are rigid, frontal pieces, while the more contemporary ones are swirling, flowing images incorporating the form and natural colors and textures of the cedar. Moses, with his outstretched arms, raised tablets, penetrating eyes and white swirling beard presents a powerful image even to the uninitiated. Leonard uses a deeply incised face and eyes to provide a high degree of realism. Facial expression is a key element in Leonardo’s carving since his primary goal is to invoke emotion and feeling with his Santos. The images reflect both the natural form of the wood, and Leonardo’s personal experiences. All of Leonardo’s work focuses in some respect on spiritual concepts. After collecting pieces of cedar, he lives with them awhile, taking time to recognize the figure eventually revealed in them. The twisted wood offers the most challenge as it allows him to go beyond traditional notions of form and emphasize more the essence of the figure. Since Leo Senior’s death Leonardo finds himself returning more and more to his father’s style. An instinctive reaction rather than a conscious decision, it has made him more aware of the continuity of an indigenous family tradition. His interest in wood carving, however, is not limited to traditional Catholic symbols. His attraction to human spiritual images extends to the Native American, also. Growing up near Taos Pueblo, he was exposed all his life to the religious traditions and rituals of the Taos Indians. Later in college, he became fascinated with the image of the healing shaman of the Northwest tribes. After awhile he began to see these forms also emerging from the twisted cedar. All of Leonardo’s work focuses in some respect on spiritual concepts. Each one appears to interpret in a slightly different manner, man’s relationship to the divine. For Leonardo, the true test of an artist is being able to communicate his interpretations, not only to art collectors, but to everyone who views his art. As a woodcarver, he believes he best fulfills this role by simply remaining faithful to the form in the wood.
Santero John Garcia was born in Taos, New Mexico in 1949. Following a long tradition in Northern New Mexico, he is a self taught wood carver. John Makes his living as a Santero, and although at times it is difficult, he never gives up. His love for wood carving and the native cedar wood traditionally used by Santeros, is an integral part of his very being. He is best known for his images of Saint Francis, friend of the animals, San Pasqual, the kitchen saint, San Isidro, the garden saint, and San Felipe, keeper of the keys. However, he also carves nativity sets, angels, and La Muerta the Penitente Death Cart. John has an enormous repertoire of saints and does many saints on consignment.
Alexander credits his father, Tino, with inspiring his initial carving work when he was around nine years of age. He says he was originally more interested in sports than art, particularly cross country and wrestling, and won a state championship wrestling title when he was still at Hopi High School. He graduated in 1991.
Eventually, his heart called him back to his art and he listened. Advocating a drug and alcohol free lifestyle for not just himself but for other younger Hopis that might want to follow his art path, Youvella says, drugs and alcohol aren’t worth it. All those two do is take from you, and being Hopi you must remember to always give back and you can’t do that if you’re under the influence.”
Youvella said that his artwork is becoming a very private, thought-provoking place as well. “I must remember that I must not desecrate our Hopi religion in any way just for the sake of monetary profit, to not offend, because our Hopi ways are sacred. You can bend it so many ways, but it always must have that final respect. I want to honor my people and my artwork, so I try to be mindful of this each time I carve.”
Youvella, who is married into the Tesuque Pueblo Tribe of New Mexico makes his home in Santa Fe, NM but spends inordinate amounts of time learning more about carving from his father and relatives when he is home at First Mesa in Hopi. Youvella is well on his way to becoming a well known entity in the Hopi carving world.
Navajo sandpainter Eugene Joe from Shiprock New Mexico depicts nature, Indian religious beliefs and lifestyles in his artwork. Although he never attended art school, he scrutinized every book on art he could get his hands on, learning all he could about various art styles. He entered BIA Boarding School at the age of seven and continued from pre-first through eighth grade. He lived nine months each year in a dormitory setting away from his parents. He was encouraged to sketch by school teachers.
When summer came, he was excited about having the freedom to explore nature and investigate every facet of traditional Navajo life. While other youths were busy with childhood games, Eugene would be at the trading post listening intently to older Navajos who sat for hours telling the fascinating tales of the culture.
As he matured, Eugene was drawn more and more toward the Navajo lifestyle as an art subject. Enchanted by the many moods of the rock and sky, he captured them on paper with pencil and crayola with growing adeptness.
As a child Eugene climbed trees attempting to get close enough to birds to take them in hand as live models for his art. With no success in this venture, he had to settle for feathers left behind by the delicate creatures who had taken flight to avoid their pursuer. Eugene's Grandfather, Frank Barber, observed the growing collection of feathers. Thus he received the name Baatsoslanii (Many Feathers) from his Grandfather.
In 1964, Eugene started his apprenticeship with his father James C. Joe, a traditional artists who is well known for his unique sandpaintings in natural colored sands depicting traditional beliefs. James C. Joe, a very religious man and at one time a medicineman, believes his gift is of God. From his father, Eugene learned the technique, style, and color involved in creating a painting, but more important were the stories behind the paintings. As with his grandfather, Eugene questioned his father on every detail for cultural significance. With his father's urging he became fully converted to this art form. Eugene began developing his own style in search of a unique expression in sand, which would be creative and different from any other artist--a sand artist creating in contemporary modes the beauty of the ancient.
Eugene has been the subject of a number of magazine and newspaper articles, including such prestigious art publications as "Artists of the Rockies" and "Southwest Art." Eugene was also featured on NBC Newsweek, and National Geographic Explorer. He co-quthored the booklet, "Navajo Sandpaint Art," with Mark Bahti. Eugene has received numerous awards for his art in shows throughout the Southwest.
John Gibson sees a gourd the way a painter views a blank canvas or a sculptor looks at a piece of stone. Gourds, he has learned, are instruments for boundless artistic creativity. And Gibson is the maestro. Using Southwestern, Native American, wildlife and contemporary designs, Gibson is turning gourds into magnificent pieces of art. In the process, he is turning the heads of many across the country who have discovered the intricate, natural beauty that emanates from his work. “I feel more like a person who sculpts rather than paints,” said Gibson, who produced his first piece in 1993 and has since seen his art displayed in a growing number of galleries nationwide. Gibson is indeed more than a painter. He is a craftsman, designer and engraver. And it is these disciplines, coupled with the exactness of a mathematician, that Gibson uses to begin each project. With compass and ruler in hand, he painstakingly makes the measurements that ensure the geometric precision that is so vital to his art. There’s nothing simple about Gibson’s work. From the initial choice of the correct-shaped and sized gourd to the final decorative stone inlay, leather lace or abalone shell, each piece reflects the individualism of its creator. Influenced by his father, who worked as a cowboy in his early years on ranches in West Texas and Kansas, Gibson has traveled extensively throughout the Southwest, gathering the mental images that he conveys in his art. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has worked as a salesman, retail manager and healthcare professional. But is was his love of the Native American culture and the West that ultimately brought him into the art world and to the natural canvas of the gourd. Each of Gibson’s designs are a multi-step process. From washing, cutting, cleaning, sanding and leveling each gourd, to drawing the design and burning it into the gourd’s hard shell. Gibson then turns to dyes for color and to give the gourd a textured, three-dimensional look not possible with paint. After a clear coating is applied, finishing designs are etched in with a high-speed drill. He may then add as final touch, such as a piece of bone, horse hair or turquoise. Like the gourd itself, everything Gibson incorporates into his art is natural. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a special connection to the Native American culture, to the outdoors and to the landscapes of the West,” Gibson said. “it is those loves that I try to reflect in every piece I Make.
Nestoria and Daniel Coriz
Nestoria (Pat) Coriz is a fine jeweler from Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. She learned how to work with stones, shell and silver from her father. However, her own designs combine tradition with an original contemporary flare. She has passed this legacy on to her sons Daniel and Rodney. Santo Domingo has long been known from ancient times for working in stones and shell. The Coriz Family is well known for using the best quality of natural stones.
Daniel Coriz is part of the famous Coriz family of potters and silversmiths, Daniel was born in 1964 and resides in the Pueblo of Santo Domingo. He credits his mother, Nestoria and his grandfather Lupe Pena for helping him get started; teaching him the basics of silversmithing and jewelry making. Daniel has perfected his skills and has been crafting fine heishi and inlay jewelry for over fifteen years. He has been featured in "New Mexico Magazine" and his work is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
Trinidad Lucas and Tim Mowa are a husband and wife teem and have been self employed as Hopi silversmiths for about 16 years. Tim started at the Co-operative Guild around 1984 under Mark Lomaystewa, who was the manager, training silversmiths. Trini started at home watching and learning from her dad, Glenn B. Lucas, who himself was a well known silversmith. They enjoy making jewelry and have shared their techniques with one another. The love of art is always an important part of their jewelry making. Tim's clan symbol is an upside down triangle representing the Sun's mouth, and Trini's clan symbol is the Bear. They sign their jewelry with these hallmarks.
Effie Calavaza is from Zuni, New Mexico. She specializes in sand casting and incorporates large stones and snake designs. She began silversmithing in 1956 after learning from her husband, Juan Calavaza. She uses both her husband's and her own designs.
Her work is stamped EFFIE C. ZUNI in 1/16 Gothic print. This is the family hallmark used by Effie and her three daughters (she shared her spouse's mark, JUAN C. ZUNI, until his death ca. 1970). Over the years, her daughters, Georgiana Yatsattie, Gloria Jean Garcia and Susie Calavaza have assisted Effie in jewelry making. Despite many rumors, Effie is still making jewelry to this day. Effie's work is collected throughout the world.
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