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 Santa Fe Indian Market for many years, earning First, Second and Third 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 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.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
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San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa at San Ildefonso Pueblo
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 to prehistoric pueblos in the Mesa Verde area, their most recent ancestral home is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric village of Tsankawi in particular. Tsankawi abuts the reservation on its northwest side.

A mission church was built in 1617 and named for San Ildefonso. Hence the name. Before that the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300s. When the Spanish arrived in 1540, they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That 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 all the Tewa people on top of nearby Black Mesa. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their villages. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. The Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the pueblo's population to about 90. Their population has grown to more than 600 now but the only economic activity available on the pueblo involves creating art in one form or another. The only other work is 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 is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters from this pueblo have produced quality pottery, 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 of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

Map showing the location of San Ildefonso Pueblo

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson
Photo is in the public domain
100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - - All Rights Reserved