Tuesday, September 26, 2006

...you never know

















You never know what you will find! One day I was in a Native American art gallery with my mother in law and we were looking at contemporary pottery- which is very popular. In a smart marketing mood- the Native American artists are switching their color palette to pastels to go with more modern color schemes. My mother in law likes the new colors as do a lot of other people, but I don't know- seems like in doing so we are losing the traditional art form, and when the generations of Native American artists lose the knowledge to do the pottery traditionally- it will be gone forever.
So there we were, and I was pulled over to the corner of the gallery where more traditional pottery was displayed. I'm looking at these small black plates and bowls, protected under glass. They are made by Maria Martinez (1887-1980) and her children, all from the San Ildefonso Pueblo. She is without a doubt the most famous and sought after Native American potter.
The black pots occur because of a combination of the minerals in the clay near the pueblo and in the firing process- they add animal manure to burn in the pits with the pots.
Well, my mother in law comes over and I point out Maria's pots and she casually say, " Oh, I have some of those.", I say " You mean black pots?", She says "No, her pots.", "Her pots?" I say, "Maria Martinez pots!", she says " Yes, her pots.", I ask "where are they?", "I think in my china cabinet."
So I look down under the glass at the price tag and let's just say there was none of them that were less then $1000.00 and many that were $3000.00 and up.
So we hurried to her house cause I had to see for myself and sure enough she has three Maria Martinez pots, one even held the stamps and paper clips.
Are these pots my inlaws prized possession, no. Do they comprehend the pots value now, nope. So I have become the protector of the pots- now that we are moving his parents up near us and out of the house they have been in for the last thirty years. Iwent in and stole the pots, having little faith in my husband and father in law to transport the pots carefully.
I happened to be with my mom and we had a fun time doing it, you start thinking about not tripping walking to the car- which probably makes you more likely to trip. Then we remember we had to go to the grocery store, so we covered the pots with a jacket and double checked we locked the door. Then we remembered we had to get the children from school so we secured the pots in the far back of the SUV and they did make it safely home- with lengthy discussion that these pots could pay for their first year at college- so don't touch the pots, just don't go near the pots.
We now have the pots in custody until all the furniture is moved into my in laws house and I can put them back in a safe place. My husband has repeated reminded my I Do need to give them back- back to hold the stamps and paper clips!! ( I want to cry thinking about that! )
I have actually heard of this before. There is a local story of a archeologist driving down the road with his family and slamming on the brakes because he saw a Anasazi blanket, the Native American who made the cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde, laying over a barbecue grill! So look around and pay attention- you never know what you might find!

for a good bio of Maria Martinez and a gallery of her pots go to http://www.mariapottery.com

4 comments:

  1. Julia,
    That is amazing...such treasures in unexpected places. I'm so glad you found them before they were broken or discarded! You are the perfect "keeper of the pots", appreciating them and caring for them as they deserve.

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  2. Beautiful work and a wonderful story. Keep the pots carefully on a shelf where no pets can investigate. The story about how Maria signed her work was extremely interesting. Thanks for adding that informative link!
    And thanks for a great story to go with the images.

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  3. Beautiful work and a wonderful story. Keep the pots carefully on a shelf where no pets can investigate. The story about how Maria signed her work was extremely interesting. Thanks for adding that informative link!
    And thanks for a great story to go with the images.

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  4. Very nice article!

    Another excellent site for a bunch of info on Maria Martinez and San Ildefonso is www.mariajulianpottery.com.

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