Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"I am not asking to bed loved. I want to love."

"A pure act of love is its own reward, and needs nothing in return."—Richard Rohr, Meditation for November 26, 2014
I will not let you go unless you bless me.—Genesis 32:26

Monday, November 10, 2014

Elsa Kells Skinner

Birth place: Syracuse, NY.

Addresses: Albuquerque, NM

Profession: Painter, illustrator

Studied: Syracuse Univ. (B.F.A.); Univ. New Mexico with Randall Davey & Kenneth Adams; Rex Brant; Milford Zornes; Robert E. Wood Jr.; Bud Biggs; George Post.

Exhibited: Nat. Assn. Am. Penwomen Nat., Smithsonian Inst., Wash., DC, 1960; Mus. New Mexico Biennial, Santa Fe, 1963; Southwestern Regional, Oklahoma City, 1964; Reno (NV) Regional, 1965; El Paso (TX) Sun Carnival Nat., 1967; Wagon Trails Gal., Albuquerque, NM, 1970s. Awards: "The Humming-bird," first prize watercolor, 1962 & "Gold and Brown," first prize mixed & "The Creatures," first prize acrylic 1967, New Mexico State Fair; "Old Mine at Golden," first purchase award, City of Albuquerque, 1968.

Member: Southwestern WCS (mem. chmn., New Mexico Chapt., 1971-72).

Work: Old Mine at Golden, Albuquerque (NM) City Hall; Seminole Child, Bernalilo Co. Health Bldg, Albuquerque; Out Cerrillos Way, New Mexico Bank & Trust Co., Hobbs. Commissions: oil portrait of Onate, New Mexico Hist. Soc., New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces.

Comments: Preferred media: watercolors. Positions: painter & designer, Charles Hall, NYC, 1932-33; free lance bookjacket designer, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1934-35; designer, Decorative Utilities Corp, Newark, NJ, 1934-40; free lance illustrator & designer, Berland Printing Co., New York, 1935-39.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Parfleche bag by artist Robert Blanchet

A parfleche is a Plains Indian rawhide bag, "typically used for holding dried meats and pemmican" (Wikipedia).

The word originated with French fur traders and derives from the French "parer" meaning "parry" or "defend", and "fl├Ęche" meaning "arrow". (First known use of the word, 1827). The hide was tough enough to be used as a shield, thus the term.

Again, according to Wikipedia, "the original bags had graphics that were actually maps, general geographical depictions of the surrounding land." The artist told me that the paint designs of this bag are influenced by historic Crow Indian work.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Albuquerque (Nob Hill) Yard Sale, Friday and Saturday, October 17-18, 2014

We've done it again! Better than ever before: VINTAGE ART, including Mexican, New Mexican, Early Americana, Navajo and Pueblo jewelry, Pueblo pottery, weavings, quilts, paintings, hand thrown stoneware pottery, handmade wooden bowls, 19th century Spanish Colonial table, mid-century patio set, old boots and cowboy hats, and MORE! Something for all seekers of old treasure. Parking on Amherst or in alley between Amherst & Carlisle. Garage entrance and sale is on Coal Ave. Friday and Saturday, October 17-18, 8 a.m. until 1-ish.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    North Carolina Pottery by Burlon Craig

    Burlon Craig (1914-2002)
    3-gallon churn/jar, 1940s-50s

    Thank you, Jeff Savage, for identifying this piece. (Reference post for October 11, 2014)

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    A tale of old quilts

    To attempt singling out any one thing that especially beckons me when it comes to collecting the relics of our shared American past would be pointless. My eyes and my heart are wide roaming. Stored in boxes in my barn house in Texas are countless quilts that I have--in my mind, rescued!--from yard sales around east Texas. As I saw it they were headed for the dog bed or rag bin, or worst of all, the burn pile. I even bought a few Texas quilts at a yard sale here in Albuquerque three years ago--from the Rethke-Behringer-Shelton families of Lee and Hill Counties Texas.

    Rethke-Behringer-Shelton families 

    My Texas German grandmother (1897-1983) wouldn't have given a second thought to so disposing of an old, well-worn and well-loved quilt. In fact, I never saw a quilt that came from that German farming, land-owning family that settled in northwest Harris County in 1866, an area that for sometime now that has been part of the sprawling city of Houston. Having been a collector for 45 years, I remember as clearly as if it had been yesterday, my grandmother sitting in a rocker and me asking her, "Grandma, why don't we have anything?" Where were all the old things that would have come from our family? "I don't know," she replied, "I guess we gave it all to the 'niggers'." That was in fact the habit of those who had things. They gave them to the domestic workers. She didn't mean anything ugly or harmful by her term. It was simply the word she had heard and used all of her 80 some odd years.

    Recently, I came across an old quilt at a yard sale in our neighborhood in Albuquerque. Sunbonnet Sue is the name of the pattern. The quilt was dingy and had the smell of old cloth that hasn't been washed for a long time. It's the common smell of years of human habitation that greet the senses when you walk into a house that has been denied fresh air for years. I walked away from the quilt at $15. "Let me know if you want to make an offer," a slender, silver-haired woman standing nearby said. Just about to head back to the truck, I said to my friend Tom, "I'm going to talk to her about that quilt."

    It turns out the quilt was made by her grandmother in Oklahoma. Grandmother had made a quilt for each of her grandchildren, incorporating into each quilt something significant to the particular child. In this case, on the sunbonnet in the center is embroidered the recipient's name, "Nan". According to Nan, the fabrics on the quilt came from her old dresses. So you ask why, why would someone sell a quilt made by her grandmother? I don't question that, but I knew that I had to rescue it, and I thank Nan for trusting it to my hands.

    I lost no time in finding out how to clean the quilt. Soaking it in Dreft--recommended for baby clothes, and on one website, for washing old quilts--appeared to be the solution. I drew a bathtub full of warm water and stirred in the powered Dreft, hopeful of my efforts. As the quilt soaked, the water turned a grayish-brown, and the final results brought a big smile to my face.

    I won't bother Nan with the results, although I know the location of the yard sale where I bought Sunbonnet Sue. That would be an invasion of Nan's privacy. But if she somehow comes across this story, I want her to know that Sunbonnet Sue is in good hands. I have taken part in her stewardship. Maybe someone will come along who wants Nan's quilt for her own child or grandchild.

    Saturday, October 11, 2014

    Ahh, the joy of the hunt...

    I'm on the email distribution list of a number of estate sale companies here in Albuquerque, and this week I received an announcement of a sale that included what I perceived to be a large piece of historic North Carolina ash-glazed utilitarian pottery. Eager to have a chance at this jar/churn, I showed up an hour before the start time. Two other people were already in line. However, I knew that neither of them would be interested in an old piece of stoneware. My good fortune.

    I was able to lay my hands on the piece almost as quickly as they opened the door for people to flood into the sale. It took perhaps a minute for me to spy the stoneware jar. I picked it up, winced at the price, and then noticed that someone had done some homework on North Carolina stoneware, having printed out several pages of information from the Internet on pottery from the Catawba Valley region of NC. As is often the case with pottery, this piece is unmarked, except for a double-stamped 3. Capacity stamps--the style of the number and the double stamping--can be clues to a maker.

    I've done my own homework, having written to a young contemporary potter in NC who thinks the piece likely was made by someone from the line of Reinhardt potters--his family--who started working in the third quarter of the 19th century.  My reading of information from a couple of other sites has uncovered several examples of "historic" Reinhardt pieces. I see great similarity between the form of this jar--including the very distinctive mouth and the lug handles occurring on either side of the shoulder, along with the glaze, which consists of crushed iron ore and glass, giving it a dark, hard, glassy sheen.

    Sometime soon I will know, with little room for doubt, who produced this beautiful example of pottery from one of the most prolific pottery-making traditions in the United States.

    Ahh, the joy of the hunt.

    Monday, October 6, 2014

    Art Found

    Just over from the Chamisa and cactus that fill one side of the walk from Mountain Street to the front of the Museum of Albuquerque, and just past a life-size sculpture of quiet human activity cast in bronze by esteemed Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre, is a low stone wall built in honor of Florence Parker--"Florence 'Flo' Parker Memorial Sculpture Garden".

    Were it not for the utility poles standing in the distance, signaling close by development, this Chamisa could be flourishing in the foothills on the east side of Albuquerque or on the West Mesa.

    As I was leaving the museum yesterday morning, I noticed a lone slingback high heel sitting on the right side of the plaque honoring Ms. Parker. Odd, I thought, as I continued walking away, heading to Old Town Albuquerque, a long block away down Mountain. Then it dawned on me--a thought about what this shoe possibly represented. I'm trusting in my sense of goodness that a Saturday night respite on this low wall saw a local partier walk away barefoot, leaving behind a shoe. It looks like a party shoe, gleaming silver-gold, sleek, having danced a few miles. Since I know absolutely nothing of how this shoe got there and remained on the wall Sunday morning, I choose not to take this any other direction. Maybe it was planted intentionally as staged art.

    Saturday, October 4, 2014

    Loving art continued...

    Teresita Chavez Romero (1894 -1991) of Cochiti Pueblo is considered a revivalist of traditional pottery, active from 1910 to 1960s. Her work is held in the Museum of New Mexico and Laboratory of Anthropology, both in Santa Fe, Museum of Albuquerque and Heard Museum of Phoenix. She is known for her seated clay figurines and functional jars or ollas. She was the Mother of noted watercolorist Santiago Romero and grandmother to accomplished and well-known artists, painter Mateo Romero, and potter Diego Romero.

    Photo image of Romero from

    The pot pictured at the left I found in a shop in the North Valley of Albuquerque. Primitive, yet sophisticated with applied lizards. I had no clue about the signature until I went online and immediately found Romero's name, photograph from an old photography collection attributed to T. Harmon Parkhurst and examples of her work in well-established galleries associated with Native American art, along with references to her famous artists son and grandsons.

    According to King Galleries in Scottsdale AZ, "the black areas are painted with wild spinach and the red with clay slips.  The red clay she used was distinctive for her pottery and had an orangeish-red coloration."

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Loving art, continued…

    Dan Simplicio, Zuni, 1940s, turquoise and silver

    Saturday, September 27, 2014

    A modest and extremely abbreviated tale of loving art and the hunt for It...

    When Friends Meet — 1987
    at the Denver Botanic Gardens 2011 exhibit
    Allan Houser (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache, 1914–1994), Native Roots | Modern Form 
    My friend Steve and I drove from Albuquerque to Denver in June 2011 for a touring production at the Denver Performing Arts Center. It was also my first visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and turned out to be an initiation into the sculpture of Native American Allan Houser. I knew his name, had seen a piece here and there and lots of photographs of Houser's work, but never so much live and in person, and in one setting.

    Truly, for those of us who love collecting and understand the privilege of being a steward of expressions of the creative spirit, art in some form abounds just about anywhere we find ourselves. If we choose, sometimes we get to bring it home for awhile. Most times, we are offered an opportunity to be a part of some public presentation. Maybe it's a special garden or park in some city, or a museum or other institution where art is on display. Sometimes it's in someone's home.

    Corn Maiden
    The Denver Botanic Gardens are a beautiful mixture of the planned and rustic.

    And in this instance, a backdrop for the exquisite work of a very talented man. According to our friends at Wikipedia, "one of the most renowned Native American painters and Modernist sculptors of the 20th century."

    Navajo Shepherd
    And according to another website, "teacher and mentor to an entire generation of American Indian sculptors. At various stages of this journey he mastered drawing, painting, stone carving, and sculpting in bronze. He also changed his name to Houser (from Hazous), easier to spell and pronounce in the larger world in front of him."

    Spirit Dancers
    This is where we started and finished in the Denver Botanic Gardens.

    Morning Prayer — 1987
    For the Houser exhibit, this Navajo weaving had been framed and stood on a large easel in the main area of the visitor center, the centerpiece of a special exhibit on Native American art. Three weeks later it stood in my living room, and now it hangs on a very sturdy lath and plaster wall.

    Navajo-Cornstalk-Yei, 55" x 38", 1910 (unframed)
    One of the thrills of the hunt is the unexpected find, such as this 1930s Navajo bracelet cuff. Unsigned, as is typical of early work—a professional friend said about this piece that I found at the estate sale for a 94 year old man in Albuquerque, "Wow, that has got it all!" Lots of nice turquoise, heavy carinated triple split shank silver with deep stamp work.

    Sometimes I am in disbelief of what I find. It happens rarely that you walk upon something, as we say. Several years ago while killing time in a resale shop in rural Texas, I found a Rose Gonzales (San Ildefonso) vase that had been made into a lamp. It was the day before Thanksgiving. A little irony here. I thought to myself—someone is manufacturing lamps that look like San Ildefonso pottery. I bought it, and started Googling for images of San Ildefonso pottery vases. Thanks to the generous guidance of a dealer in Arizona, I disassembled the lamp to look for the mark on the vase bottom, and there it was, in script, her name "Rose". I owned it for a few years and then sold it. Nice money, but in a way I wish I still had the vase. I have to remind myself every time I let go of something I love that it's all temporary, anyway. And there are many more treasures waiting. "There will always be another piece of pecan pie. And if I die first, then it won't matter."—I sometimes say jokingly when I sell a piece I love or miss out on a piece.

    Rose Gonzales Vase
    It's all part of the journey. In this corner of my bedroom: a couple of checkerboards bought over the Internet from dealers in upstate New York share space with Italian stone fruit in a primitive wooden trencher from Mexico, a pair of Shoshone moccasins (so I'm told), and on the wall, mounted on linen with all the warts and wrinkles showing around the edges, a primitive still life that had to be pulled from the wall where it was nailed in a furniture making shop somewhere near Atontonilco, between San Miguel de Allende and Delores Hidalgo, Mexico. I was visiting a pioneering friend who in her late 60s had decided to live in Mexico for awhile. That's a serigraph of a Gerald Nailor painting of a quail facing the corner of the room.

    I have long loved early treenware. And always, when I say the word, I am reminded of an article from long ago titled something like, "When Treenware was the Only Ware". This dynamite large maple bowl came from a dealer in upstate New York that I've never met. I've bought several things from him over the last few years. Even though I've gone through a couple of significant collecting periods, including early Americana and Texana, and said goodbye to both collections, I have a soft spot for wood. It simply doesn't get any better than this bowl.