San Ildefonso

Black jar with a sienna rim, sgraffito avanyu and geometric design and an inlaid stone

TsePe was born into San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1940. His parents, Robert and Rose Gonzales, first named him John but he changed that just after he finished high school. TsePe learned how to make pottery while watching his mother as he grew up. She was from San Juan Pueblo and deep-carved her pieces while TsePe learned to prefer sgraffito and low relief carving.

When he was 19, TsePe married Dora Gachupin of Zia Pueblo. Contrary to Pueblo tradition, she moved to his home at San Ildefonso. She had learned the Zia way of making pottery as she grew up. At San Ildefonso she learned the San Ildefonso way of making pottery from her mother-in-law. Together, TsePe and Dora were exposed to the works of Popovi and Tony Da from San Ildefonso and Joseph Lonewolf, Camilio Tafoya and Grace Medicine Flower from Santa Clara. They all worked to push the quality of sgraffito work higher and higher. TsePe also added turquoise and heishe bead inlays and micaceous and green clays to his pottery, styles adopted and developed further by Russell Sanchez.

TsePe and Dora divorced around 1979 and Dora went on to an award-winning career on her own. TsePe met and married Jennifer Sisneros of Santa Clara soon after the divorce. TsePe passed on in 2000 and Jennifer moved back to Santa Clara, reassumed her maiden name and later married Alfred Naranjo. TsePe did influence her pottery-making style in that she added green and micaceous slips to her repertoire.

TsePe always credited his mother with inspiring him to be a potter. His daughters, Andrea, Candace, Gerri, Irene and Jennifer, credit both TsePe and Dora with inspiring them.

Some Awards TsePe Won

  • 1976 - Second Place ribbon with Dora, incised bowl, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 1978 - Second Place ribbon with Dora, carved black jar, Santa Fe Indian Market
  • 1978 - Second Place ribbon with Dora, carved black jar with avanyu design, Santa Fe Indian Market

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