Black jar with sienna spot and sgraffito medallion and Mimbres ram
 made by Russell Sanchez of San Ildefonso
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Russell Sanchez, San Ildefonso, Black jar with sienna spot and sgraffito medallion and Mimbres ram
Russell Sanchez
San Ildefonso
$ 295
cwscm8070
Black jar with sienna spot and sgraffito medallion and Mimbres ram
3 in H by 2 1/4 in Dia
Condition: Very good
Signature: RAS

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Russell Sanchez

San Ildefonso
Etching, silver accent and heishi beads on a lidded, burnished jar, by Russell Sanchez
 

Russell Sanchez was born at San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1963. As a child he spent a lot of time with his grandparents, Oqwa Pi (an award-winning painter) and Pomasena Cata Sanchez, Rose Gonzales' younger sister. When Russell was about 8, Rose began teaching him the traditional way to make pottery. He says that one day when he was 11 or 12 he put a batch of small, newly finished black-on-black pots outside and Anita Da (Popovi Da's widow) came by and took a look. Then she told him, "I want you to start bringing me stuff" and that's how his pottery career really began to take off. After a while he also began working with Dora Tse-Pe, Rose's daughter-in-law, and from her he learned how to refine his process and attain a more perfect product. Since then he has developed his own techniques and has often been referred to as a modernist potter.

Because he grew up speaking Tewa, Russell was able to converse with his tribal elders and they told him where to go and what to look for when he went out in search of clay deposits. He found many of the old clay sources at San Ildefonso and has used them to help recreate many of the San Ildefonso styles from the 1800's, well before most San Ildefonso potters started creating black-on-black pots. He's done significant research into old styles and designs among the collections at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the School for Advanced Research but when asked if he copies any he responds with a saying he learned in his youth: "This is mine, this is what I do. Take it and make it your own."

Russell is an avid outdoorsman and an expert with a kayak and a river raft. He's paddled rivers in Peru and Chile and challenged the Zambesi River in southern Africa. However, tamer rivers closer to home allow him to gather clay wherever he finds it. That has led to experiments with many different types of clay, even to the point of incorporating two or more different colors of clay into the same pot. He also often uses slips made of different colors of clay, including micaceous. His designs are painted, carved, incised and sometimes inlaid with turquoise and/or coral and heishi beads. For Russell, "traditional" doesn't mean being stuck in any one time period, it's more like growing and moving forward with everyone adding something else to the "traditional" as they travel their own paths.

Russell has won many awards over the years, including several 1st and 2nd Place ribbons at the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. Collections of his work can be found at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico, the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2017 Russell was awarded the 2017 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Some of the Recent Awards Russell has Earned

  • 2019 - Best of Class for contemporary pottery, any form or design using Native materials with or without added elements, traditional firing techniques, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 2019 - 2nd Place, Sgraffito, any form, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 2019 - 1st Place, Painted any form, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 2019 - 1st Place, Figures, including sets, Santa Fe Indian Market
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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

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson
Photo is in the public domain

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Mimbres Pottery

Mimbres Mogollon

Polychrome seed pot with a Mimbres-style fish and geometric design

Rebecca Lucario
Acoma
Polychrome bowl with black-and-white mountain sheep and geometric design

Verda Toledo
Jemez
Black and white canteen with Mimbres animal and geometric design

Marie Z. Chino
Acoma


The Mimbres Mogollon culture was named for the Mimbres River in the Gila Mountains. They lived in the area from about 850 CE to about 1150 CE. Substantial depopulation of the area occurred but there were many small surviving populations. Over time, these melted into the surrounding cultures with many families moving north to Acoma, Zuni and Hopi while others moved south to Casas Grande and Paquime.

The time period from about 850 CE to about 1000 CE is classed the Late Basketmaker III period. The time period was characterized by the evolution of square and rectangular pithouses with plastered floors and walls. Ceremonial structures were generally dug deep into the ground. Local forms of pottery have been classified as early Mimbres black-on-white (formerly Boldface Black-on-White), textured plainware and red-on-cream.

The Classic Mimbres phase (1000 CE to 1150 CE) was marked with the construction of larger buildings in clusters of communities around open plazas. Some constructions had up to 150 rooms. Most groupings of rooms included a ceremonial room, although smaller square or rectangular underground kivas with roof openings were also being used. Classic Mimbres settlements were located in areas with well-watered floodplains available, suitable for the growing of maize, squash and beans. The villages were limited in size by the ability of the local area to grow enough food to support the village.

Pottery produced in the Mimbres region is distinct in style and decoration. Early Mimbres black-on-white pottery was primarily decorated with bold geometric designs, although some early pieces show human and animal figures. Over time the rendering of figurative and geometric designs grew more refined, sophisticated and diverse, suggesting community prosperity and a rich ceremonial life. Classic Mimbres black-on-white pottery is also characterized by bold geometric shapes but done with refined brushwork and very fine linework. Designs may include figures of one or multiple humans, animals or other shapes, bounded by either geometric decorations or by simple rim bands. A common figure on a Mimbres pot is the turkey, another is the thunderbird. There are also a lot of different fish depicted, some are species found in the Gulf of California.

A lot of Mimbres bowls (with kill holes) have been found in archaeological excavations but most Mimbres pottery shows evidence it was actually used in day-to-day life and wasn't produced just for burial purposes.

There's a lot of speculation as to what happened to the Mimbres people as their countryside was rapidly depopulated after about 1150 CE. The people of Isleta, Acoma and Laguna find ancient Mimbres pot shards on their pueblo lands, indicating that pottery designs from the Mimbres River area migrated north. There are similar designs found on pot shards littering the ground around Casas Grandes and Paquime near Mata Ortiz and Nuevo Casas Grandes in northern Mexico. Other than where they went, the only reasons offered for why they left involve at least small scale climate change. The usual comment is "drought" but drought could have been brought on by the eruption of a volcano on the other side of the planet, or a small change in the El Nino-La Nina schedule. Whatever it was that started the outflow of people, it began in the Mimbres River area and spread outward from there. Excavations in the Eastern Mimbres region (nearer to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico) have shown that the people adapted to new circumstances and that adaptation itself moved them closer into alignment with surrounding tribes and cultures. Eventually they just kind of merged into the background, although the groups that moved south and built up Paquime and Casas Grandes seem to have lost a war and survivors migrated to the west, to a land a bit more hospitable for them.


Black and white canteen with a bighorn ram's head spout and Mimbres ram and geometric design

Michael Kanteena
Laguna
Black and white flat jar with Mimbres geometric design

Paula Estevan
Acoma
Polychrome jar with Mimbres rabbit and geometric design, inside and out

Franklin Tenorio
Santo Domingo
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Gonzales 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.


    Ramona Sanchez Gonzales (1885-?), second wife of Juan Gonzales (painter)
    • Rose Gonzales (daughter-in-law) (1900-1989) & Robert Gonzales
      • (Johnnie) Tse-Pe (Gonzales)(1940-2000) & Dora Tse-Pe (Gachupin, first wife, Zia, b. 1939)
        • Andrea Tse Pe (b. 1975)
        • Candace Tse-Pe (b. 1968)
        • Gerri Tse-Pe (b. 1963)
        • Irene Tse-Pe (b. 1961)
        • Jennifer Tse-Pe (1960-1977)
      • (Johnnie) Tse-Pe (1940-2000) & Jennifer Tse Pe (Sisneros - second wife, Santa Clara)
    • Blue Corn (Crucita Gonzales Calabaza)(1921-1999)(step-daughter of Ramona) & Santiago Calabaza (Santo Domingo) (d. 1972)
      • Diane Calabaza-Jenkins (b. 1955)
      • Lucille Calabaza-King
      • Sophia Calabaza
      • Stacey Calabaza
      • He'Shi Flower (b. 1955)
      • Krieg Kalavaza
    • Lorenzo Gonzales (1922-1995)(adopted by Louis & Juanita Gonzales) & Delores Naquayoma (Hopi/Winnebago)
      • Jeanne M. Gonzales (b. 1959)
      • John Gonzales (b. 1955)
      • Larencita Gonzales
      • Linda Gonzales
      • Marie Ann Gonzales
      • Raymond Gonzales
      • Robert Gonzales
    • Oqwa Pi (Abel Sanchez)(1899-1971) & Tomasena Cata Sanchez (1903-1985, Rose Gonzales sister)
        Skipped generation
        • Russell Sanchez (b. 1966)
    • Juanita Gonzales (1909-1988) & Louis "Wo-Peen" Gonzales (brother of Rose Gonzales husband)
      (Juanita Wo-Peen learned from Rose Gonzales)
      • Adelphia Martinez
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