John Gonzales

San Ildefonso

Polychrome bpowl with a lightly carved and painted feather and geometric design

John Gonzales was born into San Ildefonso Pueblo in June 1955. Shortly after, his family was packed up by the BIA and relocated to a city on the East Coast. They were off the pueblo for a long time but they never did melt in. Eventually, they all returned to San Ildefonso.

John grew up an exceptional student, earning scholarships and fellowships to earn is Bachelor of Arts at Stanford University. Then he went to MIT and earned his Masters Degree in City Planning. For the next ten years he served in varying levels of government, including as President of the National Congress of American Indians and as a consultant with the George Bush Administration to establish the National Indian Gaming Commission.

In 1991, John returned home to pueblo life. He needed a change and immersed himself in learning how to make pottery the ages-old way. He didn't realize he'd fall so in love with the Clay Mother. John's father, Lorenzo Gonzales, was a well-established potter, having learned from his adoptive parents, Juanita and LouisWo-Peen Gonzales. Juanita had learned how to make pottery from her sister-in-law, Rose Gonzales. Louis was an up-and-coming painter when he lost his right arm in a hunting accident. He later learned to paint with his other hand and passed some of his painting skills on to his children. When John first started to learn how to make pottery, he soon learned that he and Clay Mother worked very well together.

In 1994, John earned the Quail Run Fellowship from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. That drew him close to the administration of the Santa Fe Indian Market, serving on the Board of Directors and then as Chairman in 1997. In 1998 he was inducted into the Stanford University American Indian Alumni Hall of Fame.

John has never been much for big exhibitions. He only went to Santa Fe Indian Market as an exhibitor a couple times. Same for his participation at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. He was part of Harvard's Peabody Essex Museum exhibit Gifts of the Spirit, Works by Nineteenth-Century and Contemporary Native American Artists in 1996-1997.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - - All Rights Reserved


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