Tra­di­tion of non tra­di­tion

South­west­ern Pot­tery: Anasazi to Zuni, text by Al­lan and Carol Hayes with pho­tos by John Blom

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - PaulWei­de­man

If you’re in the mood to buy a pot, but you’re be­daz­zled by the va­ri­ety of avail­able In­dian wares in Santa Fe, check out the new, ex­panded edi­tion of South­west­ern Pot­tery: Anasazi to Zuni. Ar­guably the most com­pre­hen­sive and eas­i­est-to-use guide on the sub­ject, it has 224 pages com­pared with the 200 pages of the orig­i­nal 1996 edi­tion. “It’s com­pletely rewrit­ten and repho­tographed,” said Carol Hayes, who pro­duced the book with her hus­band, Al­lan Hayes, and pho­tog­ra­pher John Blom. “We have a lot more in­for­ma­tion than we did 20 years ago. Since we did the first book, there are more pue­b­los do­ing more pot­tery, for ex­am­ple at San Felipe and Pojoaque. I think the book has been en­cour­ag­ing to the pot­ters, too. At the time we did the first one, there were books that con­cen­trated on cer­tain pue­b­los or pot­ters but we felt there was not much about the pot­tery of south­ern Ari­zona. We were also ir­ri­tated by the fact that quite of­ten they would show pic­tures of some­one mak­ing a pot but they wouldn’t bother to iden­tify the artist.”

The Hayeses were in the mid­dle of a road trip from their home in Sausal­ito to New Mex­ico when they spoke to Pasatiempo. “We al­ways drive be­cause we sell pot­tery. We do the Great South­west­ern An­tique Show in Al­bu­querque. We’re trav­el­ing right now with a hun­dred pots and a hun­dred books. Then we go up to Santa Fe to en­joy the other shows as tourists.”

She said the trio did the book in 1996 be­cause there wasn’t a tome in print that was help­ful to a be­gin­ning col­lec­tor. South­west­ern Pot­tery of­fers a dandy in­tro­duc­tion to the pot­tery-pro­duc­ing cul­tures; to pot­tery wares, types, and shapes; and to the in­tri­ca­cies of clay and tem­per, along with paint­ing and fir­ing tech­niques. Af­ter a de­tailed buy­ing guide, there are sec­tions on a dozen types of pre­his­toric pot­tery, be­gin­ning with those of the Mo­gol­lon, Anasazi, Ci­bola and Mim­bres, and Ho­hokam cul­tures, then more than two dozen sec­tions cov­er­ing mod­ern pot­tery. These in­clude Mata Or­tiz in Mex­ico; and pot­tery from the cul­tures of the Mo­jave in Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia; the Hopi, Mari­copa, and O’odham in Ari­zona; and the Navajo in Ari­zona, Utah, and New Mex­ico; but the greater part of South­west­ern Pot­tery treats work from New Mex­ico’s 19 pue­b­los. Ev­ery sec­tion shows a “still life” ar­range­ment of pots on the right-hand page and a dis­cus­sion on the left page. The fi­nal chap­ter cov­ers tourist kitsch, im­plau­si­ble beasts, Zuni can­dle­sticks, ta­ble lamps, singing frogs, and Isleta birds.

Some pue­b­los get one spread in the new book; an ex­am­ple is Nambé, and the photo and ar­ti­cle in­cludes three small jars made in the early 1990s by Lon­nie Vigil, who is to­day known for his “huge, mi­ca­ceous

pots that are very beau­ti­ful,” Carol Hayes said. “We also show sev­eral pieces by his nephew Robert Vigil, a pot­ter we’ve al­ways sort of championed. We’ve bought things from him all along and he’s do­ing very well.”

Santa Clara gets seven spreads, the last one ti­tled “Sur­prises.” Among the ce­ram­ics dis­played here are a 2011 Won­der Woman tile by Ja­son Gar­cia and a large, ab­stracted “grasshop­per” cou­ple by Nora Naran­joMorse. “One of the Santa Clara pot­ters who is do­ing things that look un­con­ven­tional told Al once that be­ing non­tra­di­tional is the tra­di­tion at Santa Clara. But the fir­ing tech­niques and all still hold true. Even the fancy pot­ters do their own clay, be­cause they have to be sure that it fires cor­rectly.”

The reader-friendly vol­ume broaches its top­ics in a con­ver­sa­tional style. Pre­sent­ing a pic­ture of a “bea­tup old pitcher,” about 900 years old and clas­si­fied as Win­gate Black-on-red, the au­thors ex­plain that the name refers to the old Fort Win­gate mil­i­tary post near Gallup. Ad­dress­ing the per­plex­ing is­sue of iden­ti­fy­ing pot­tery types, they bring into the dis­cus­sion a sim­i­lar type called St. Johns Poly­chrome. “St. Johns is a bit south and west of Gallup, just across the Ari­zona state line, not far from Fort Win­gate. It looks al­most ex­actly like Win­gate Black-on-red, ex­cept that it has white dec­o­ra­tion on the out­side of the ves­sel. Clear enough? Sure, ex­cept there’s a St. Johns Black-on-red with no white and a Win­gate Poly­chrome with white on the out­side.”

The new edi­tion looks at some fairly rare and valu­able pieces, but the au­thors’ con­ser­va­tive ap­proach to pot­tery buy­ing is still present. “The whole point of that was if you’re start­ing out and you don’t know what you’re buy­ing, it’s very im­por­tant not to spend too much on your pur­chases un­til you learn a few things. If you have lots of money and it doesn’t mat­ter, you can have some­one guide you, but mostly peo­ple are just learn­ing, look­ing around and find­ing things at lit­tle auc­tions and thrift shops and on eBay.”

In the orig­i­nal book’s fore­word, Alexan­der E. An­thony Jr. of Adobe Gallery said, “Al [Hayes] and John’s [Blom] claim that the 1990s rep­re­sent a Golden Age has a ba­sis in fact. To­day’s pot­tery is more care­fully made and de­signed than ever be­fore be­cause pot­tery man­u­fac­ture has al­ways fol­lowed the mar­ket and mar­ket stan­dards right now are at an all-time high.” This con­tin­ues to be true as pot­tery mak­ers have fo­cused on the col­lec­tor mar­ket, de­vel­op­ing their work more as artists, “which is a won­der­ful thing for the artists and their fam­i­lies,” Carol Hayes said. One of the west­ern­most mar­kets pre­sented in

South­west­ern Pot­tery is the land of the Mo­jave. “We knew Betty Bar­rack­man, who lived in Nee­dles and passed away a few years ago, per­haps the last tra­di­tional pot­ter there. She said so many young peo­ple don’t want to do it, be­cause you have to go out in the desert with the rat­tlesnakes and ev­ery­thing and col­lect your clay. In places where they don’t want fire clouds [scorch marks], peo­ple use kilns, and it’s okay at the mar­kets as long as it’s dis­closed.”

Carol Hayes em­pha­sized that it is im­por­tant for buy­ers to re­search the dif­fer­ent lev­els of authen­tic­ity. Some pot­ters use com­mer­cial clay, some sim­ply paint on pre­cast pots, and quite a few use kilns rather than tra­di­tional fir­ing. “You can buy a very ex­pen­sive pot from a non­rep­utable dealer that’s not re­ally hand­made. It seems there is less and less of that, be­cause peo­ple re­al­ize they can get bet­ter money for real pots.”

“South­west­ern Pot­tery: Anasazi to Zuni,” re­vised edi­tion, text by Al­lan and Carol Hayes with pho­to­graphs by John Blom, was pub­lished this year by Tay­lor Trade Pub­lish­ing.

Resin-coated ves­sel by pot­ter Aleta Bitsi, 1992; im­ages cour­tesy Tay­lor Trade Pub­lish­ing

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