Albert 1927-2009 &
Josephine 1927-2001 Vigil

San Ildefonso

Both Albert and Josephine Vigil were born in 1927. But Josephine was born Josephine Cordova. He was from San Ildefonso, she was from Taos. Contrary to pueblo tradition, when they married she moved to his home at San Ildefonso.

Albert was the son of Juanita Vigil, one of Maria Martinez' sisters. Maria and her sister Clara taught Albert and Josephine how to make pottery. But Maria encouraged them to make polychrome pottery, not the black-on-black pottery that she was famous for.

Albert and Josephine excelled at it, so much so that they earned multiple Blue Ribbons over a quarter century of participation in Santa Fe Indian Market. They started in 1976 and earned a Second Place ribbon for a red bowl. The next year they earned a Best of Division ribbon for a painted red on buff pot. That began a long string of ribbons earned at both Santa Fe and the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show.

Josephine usually made the pots and Albert painted them. His father was Tse-Yu-Mu (Romando Vigil) of the San Ildefonso School of watercolor artists.

Josephine passed on in 2001, Albert in 2009.

Some of Albert's earliest paintings were included in the Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories exhibit at the Heard Museum in the Spring of 2019.

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