Gunmetal black jar with sienna spot, inlaid turquoise and sgraffito feather design
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Barbara Gonzales, San Ildefonso, Gunmetal black jar with sienna spot, inlaid turquoise and sgraffito feather design
Artist: Barbara Gonzales
Pueblo: San Ildefonso
Dimensions: 2 3/4 in H by 5 1/2 in Dia
Item Number: phsig8170
Price: $ 900
Description: Gunmetal black jar with sienna spot, inlaid turquoise and sgraffito feather design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: TAHN MOO WHE Sun Beam San Ildefonso Pue. New Mexico

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Barbara Gonzales

San Ildefonso
Sgraffito avanyu design on a duotone canteen

Born in 1947, Barbara Gonzales is the great-granddaughter of Maria Martinez and granddaughter of Adam and Santana Martinez. She credits her great-grandmother with changing the making of pottery from a craft to a fine art, and then credits her with being a major force in the shaping and evolution of that fine art.

Barbara lived in Maria's home from the time she was five until she was ten. That is when she learned the basics of the traditional way of making pottery from her great-grandmother. Barbara says pottery making was such an integral part of Maria's family life that she organically assimilated the skills simply from being in the presence. She also traveled with Maria to sell pots to tourists under the portal at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe and at the train depot in Albuquerque. Her own first pieces were simple animal sculptures, then she progressed into small pots, then bowls and spheres. Slowly Barbara developed her style of small sculptures, polychrome pottery and stone-inlaid, sgraffito-etched red and black ware. Along with Popovi Da she was one of the early adopters of the two-tone technique (involving two firings to produce sienna effects on otherwise black pots). She also used inlaid turquoise, heishi beads and gemstones. Around 1973 she originated "the Spider" and "the webbing technique" in sgraffito on black pottery. That shortly became her trademark.

Barbara participated in the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market for many years, earning 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place ribbons often. She was included in the Maria Martinez: Five Generations of Potters exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in 1978 and the Masters of Indian Market exhibition at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market in 1996.

Barbara was chosen as a representative of Maria's "craft lineage" in the 1997-8 Pottery by American Indian Women, The Legacy of Generations exhibition of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

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San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa
Black Mesa at San Ildefonso Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo is located about twenty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly on the eastern bank of the Rio Grande. Although their ancestry has been traced as far back as abandoned pueblos in the Mesa Verde area in southwestern Colorado, the most recent ancestral home of the people of San Ildefonso is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric villages of Tyuonyi, Otowi, Navawi and Tsankawi specifically. The area of Tsankawi abuts the reservation on its northwest side.

The San Ildefonso name was given to the village in 1617 when a mission church was established. Before then the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300's and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That village mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and when Don Diego de Vargas returned to reclaim the San Ildefonso area in 1694, he found virtually the entire tribe on top of nearby Black Mesa. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their village. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. Finally, the Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the tribe's population to about 90. The tribe's population has increased to more than 600 today but the only economic activity available for most on the pueblo involves the creation of art in one form or another. The only other jobs are off-pueblo. San Ildefonso's population is small compared to neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo, but the pueblo maintains its own religious traditions and ceremonial feast days.

San Ildefonso has produced fine ceramic art since early pre-Columbian times. The pueblo is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters have produced quality pottery from this pueblo, too, among them: Blue Corn, Tonita and Juan Roybal, Dora Tse Pe and Rose Gonzales. Of course the descendants of Maria Martinez are still important pillars of San Ildefonso's pottery tradition. Maria's influence reached far and wide, so far and wide that even Juan Quezada, founder of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

San Ildefonso Pueblo location map

Print this Pueblo History(.pdf)

Maria Martinez Family Tree

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

Santiago Peña (b. 1846) & Antonio Domingo Peña (b. 1841)
Family members who became potters:
  • Nicolasa Peña Montoya (1863-1904) & Juan Cruz Montoya
    Family members who became potters:
    • Tonita Martinez Roybal (1892-1945) & Alfredo Montoya
    • Isabel Montoya (b. 1898) & Benjamin Atencio
      Family members who became potters:
      • Angelita Atencio Sanchez (1927-1993) & Santiago Sanchez
        Family members who became potters:
        • Sandra Sanchez Chaparro
      • Gilbert Atencio (1930-1995)
      • Tony Atencio (b. 1928)
      • Helen Gutierrez (1935-1993) & Frank Gutierrez (Santa Clara)
        Family members who became potters:
        • Carol & James Gutierrez
        • Katherine Gutierrez & Ernest J. Naranjo
        • Rose Gutierrez
    • Rayita Montoya
    • Santana Montoya & Antonio Vigil
      Family members who became potters:
      • Lupita Vigil Martinez (b. 1918) & Anselmo Martinez (1909-1965)
  • Reyes Peña (d. 1909) & Tomas Montoya (d. 1914)
    Family members who became potters:
    • Desideria Montoya (1889-1982)
    • Maria Montoya Martinez (1887-1980) & Julian Martinez (1884-1943)
      Family members who became potters:
      • Adam (1903-2000) and Santana (1909-2002) Martinez
        Family members who became potters:
        • George Martinez (b. 1943) & Pauline Martinez (Santa Clara, b. 1950)
        • Anita Martinez (d. 1992) & Pino Martinez
          Family members who became potters:
          • Barbara "Tahn-Moo-Whe" Gonzales (b. 1947) & Robert Gonzales
            Family members who became potters:
            • Aaron Gonzales (b. 1971)
            • Brandon Gonzales (b. 1983)
            • Cavan Gonzales (b. 1970)
            • Derek Gonzales (b. 1986)
          • Kathy "Wan Povi" Sanchez (b. 1950) & Gilbert Sanchez
            Family members who became potters:
            • Wayland Sanchez
          • Evelyn "Than-Povi" Garcia
          • Peter Pino
        • Viola Martinez/Sunset Cruz
          Family members who became potters:
          • Beverly Martinez (1960-1987)
          • Marvin (b. 1964) and Frances Martinez
          • Johnny Cruz Jr. (b. 1975)
      • Popovi Da (1921-1971)
        Family members who became potters:
        • Tony Da (1940-2008)
    • Maximiliana Montoya (1885-1955) & Cresencio Martinez (1879-1918)
    • Juanita Vigil (1898-1933) & Romando Vigil (1902-1978)
      Family members who became potters:
      • Carmelita Vigil (1925-1999) & Nicholas Cata
        Family members who became potters:
        • Martha Apple Leaf (b. 1950)
          Family members who became potters:
          • Eric Fender (b. 1970)
        • Gloria Maxey (d. 1999)
          Family members who became potters:
          • Angelina Maxey (b. 1970)
          • Jessie Maxey (b. 1972)
        Carmelita Vigil (1925-1999) & Carlos Dunlap (d. 1971)
        Family members who became potters:
        • Carlos Sunrise Dunlap (1958-1981)
        • Cynthia Star Flower Dunlap (b. 1959)
        • Jeannie Mountain Flower Dunlap (b. 1953)
        • Linda Dunlap (b. 1955)
      • Albert Vigil (b. 1927) & Josephine Cordova (b. 1927, Taos)
  • Philomena Peña & Juan Gonzales & Ramona Sanchez (Robert's mother)
    Family members who became potters:
    • Robert Gonzales & Rose (Cata) Gonzales (San Juan)
      Family members who became potters:
      • Tse-Pe & Dora Tse-Pe
        Family members who became potters:
        • Candace Tse-Pe
        • Gerri Tse-Pe
        • Irene Tse-Pe
      • Tse-Pe (1940-2000) & Jennifer Tse-Pe (second wife, Santa Clara)
    • Oqwa Pi (Abel Sanchez)(1899-1971) & Tomasena (Cata) Sanchez (1903-1985, Rose Gonzales' sister)
      Family members who became potters:
        • Russell Sanchez (b. 1966)
    • Louis "Wo-Peen" Gonzales & Juanita Gonzales (1909-1988)
      Family members who became potters:
      • Adelphia Martinez
      • Lorenzo Gonzales (adopted) (1922-1995)
      • Blue Corn (Lorenzo's sister) (1921-1999)

Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

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