Model students Paintings from the Santa Fe Indian School
PAINTINGS FROM THE SANTA FE INDIAN SCHOOL
The Pueblo Indian artists who were the first to take brush to paper, establishing the easel-art tradition in Native America, are the focus of the current exhibition Paintings by Early Students of the Santa Fe Indian School at Adobe Gallery. “We’ve always given Dorothy Dunn credit for bringing in art at the Santa Fe Indian School in 1932,” said the gallery’s Alexander E. Anthony Jr., “but before that, as early as 1900, the teacher at the San Ildefonso Day School, Esther Hoyt, encouraged her kids to paint whatever they wanted to paint. That was against government policy. The government was very strongly trying to downplay the paganism of the Indians and to get rid of their religion and voodoo kind of dancing.” The one-room school run by Hoyt had 18 students from San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1902, and three years later, enrollment climbed to 31. The little artists included Awa Tsireh (Alfonso Roybal), who was four years old in 1903; Tonita Peña, who was ten; and Tse Ye Mu (Romando Vigil), who was four in 1905. Among Hoyt’s other students who kept at what they learned and became famed painters as adults were Alfredo Montoya, Santana Roybal, and Abel Sanchez. “These young artists from San Ildefonso got a jump-start on all the other pueblos, and it became the beginning of the Native American easel-painting movement,” Anthony told Pasatiempo in a recent interview at his gallery, which he said will be forty years old in 2017. Anthony opened his gallery on Albuquerque’s Old Town plaza and moved it to Santa Fe in 2001.