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Maria Martinez (1887-1980)

Maria Martinez is considered to be the most collected of traditional Native America pottery. Around 1920 Maria and her husband Julian created the prized, collected and awarded "black-on-black" style of Native American pottery. Throughout her long career, she continued to make pottery while her husband, son, or daughter-in-law painted the traditional designs on her pottery. Maria Martinez pottery has become iconic and has lead to a long history of generational art forms within the Native American Pueblos of the Southwestern United States. Her commercial sale began in the early 1900s and continued until she retired from making pottery around 1971.  Maria learned the art of pottery construction from her aunt (tia) Nicolasa of San Ildefonso Pueblo, Northern New Mexico. Maria Martinez restored the process of black-on-black pottery design from samples of pottery shards discovered near her home.  It was not until around 1919-20 that Maria Martinez with the help of her husband Julian Martinez created the famous black-on-black pottery.  It was this style which was polished, painted and then fired black using horse manure. She worked with Julian until his death in 1943. She then worked with her daughter-in-law Santana who was married to her eldest son, Adam. In the mid-1950's Maria made pieces which were plain and signed with her Tewa name, "Pove-ka," which means "Water Lilly." Beginning in 1956 Maria started to work with her son, Popovi Da.  Once again, Maria would make the pottery, and now her son would paint the designs.  These are often considered among the best of her career after the early work with Julian.  Popovi Da worked to revive polychrome pottery along with creating sienna (double fired) pieces.  They also created a few redware vessels. Popovi passed away in 1971 and around that time Maria Martinez retired from making pottery.  She was the subject of several books during her career.  Alice Marriot wrote the book, "Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso" in 1948.  Richard Spivey also wrote a book on her entitled, "Maria."  Both were essential additions to the collector knowledge of this vital potter. Maria was also the subject of numerous museum exhibitions.  Her pottery can be found around the world in various museum permanent collections.  The highly polished surface of her black pottery is distinctive, and yet it helped to change the economic course of San Ildefonso pottery. Today, her descendants Barbara Gonzales, Cavan Gonzales and Marvin Martinez all continue her legacy.  Her grandson, Tony Da, learned to make pottery from Maria but had a short career. Maria Martinez Signatures

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Martinez, Maria – Plainware Black Bowl “Maria Poveka”, 1950

In the 1950’s Maria Martinez created a series of pieces which were simply stone polished with no design.  As she primarily made the pottery and polished it this was fitting with the other pieces of her career.  This bowl is highly polished and fired a very deep black in coloration.  It has that “mirror-like” surface for which Maria was famous.  The bowl is signed in the clay, “Maria Poveka”.  This is a combination of her Anglo and Tewa names.  Her name, “Poveka” means “Water Lilly”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

Maria Martinez Signatures

$ 1,000.00
Martinez, Maria   – Gunmetal Fired Bowl “Maria Popovi 1268”

This gunmetal fired bowl is a classic piece by Maria Martinez and her son, Popovi Da. Maria made and polished the bowl and it was fired by her son, Popovi Da  (1923-1971). Popovi focused on both the painted surfaces of the pottery as well as the firings.  This bowl is a gunmetal coloration with a metallic appearance across much of the surface.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Maria / Popovi 1268”.  The firing date is when the pottery was made, so this bowl was from Dec, 1969. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.   Great gunmetal fired pieces by Maria and Popovi with such high polished surface are always stunning and a great addition to any collection!

Maria Martinez Signatures

$ 2,200.00
Martinez, Maria  – Bowl with Lightning Design  (Maria + Santana, 1954-6)

This is a classic bowl by Maria Martinez.  It was made by Maria Martinez and painted by her daughter-in-law Santana Martinez (the wife of Adam Martinez, Maria’s son).  It is very highly polished and has a glassy surface.  The design is a cloud and lightning pattern.  Note the highly polished surface on this bowl around the design!  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Maria + Santana”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  Definitely a classic!  

Maria Martinez Signatures

$ 1,800.00
Martinez, Maria – Bowl with Mesa & Prayer Feather Design “Marie + Julian” (1920’s)

This bowl by Maria Martinez is a classic of her early pottery from the late 1920’s.  It was made and polished by Maria and then painted by her husband, Julian Martinez (1897-1943).  The bowl is Maria’s classic rounded shoulder shape and the entire piece is fully stone polished, including the base.  The design around the sides is painted with a mesa and a prayer feather pattern. The prayer feathers are held in the hands of Pueblo dancers and are often depicted as a series of triangles one on top of the other.  The bowl is very highly polished and was fired to a gunmetal appearance. This metallic or “gunmetal” was achieved by the heat of the firing and note how the coloration changes as the bowl is turned!  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay,  “Marie + Julian”.  The bowl is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  There is one small rub below the shoulder but very little wear on the polished bottom, which is unusual, as one might expect more wear just from moving the bowl around over the past 100 years!

Maria Martinez Signatures

$ 2,200.00
Martinez, Maria – Large Wide Plainware Bowl “Maria Poveka”, 1950’s

In the 1950’s Maria Martinez created a series of pieces which were simply stone polished with no design.  As she primarily made the pottery and polished it this was fitting with the other pieces of her career.  This wide bowl is very highly polished and it is fired a dark black but with areas that are gunmetal.  This shape is one which she made, often saying it was made so that it would fit when being held by two hands.   The bowl is signed in the clay, “Maria Poveka”.  This is a combination of her Anglo and Tewa names.  Her name, “Poveka” means “Water Lilly”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 2,200.00
Martinez, Maria – Bowl with Feather Pattern (Maria Popovi 665)

This is a rounded neck bowl by Maria Martinez and her son, Popovi Da.  Maria made and polished the bowl while it was painted by her son, Popovi Da  (1923-1971). The bowl is highly polished and has the traditional eagle feather pattern painted in matte around the shoulder.  Typical of the work of Popovi Da, the feathers are perfectly painted with each feather nearly the same width as the one next to it. It is remarkable as Popovi painted them free-hand and each feather would be painted over several times. The shape of this bowl is one of Maria’s classics, as the round shoulder accentuated the shape of the feathers.  The firing is a very highly polished black with a mirror-like shine.  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Maria Popovi 665“. The signature indicates that it was made around in June 1965.  The jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 4,400.00
Martinez, Maria – Jar with Plant Design “Marie + Julian” (1930’s)

This jar by Maria Martinez is a classic of her early pottery from the late 1930’s.  It was made and polished by Maria and then painted by her husband, Julian Martinez (1897-1943).  The jar has a distinctive form with a sharp shoulder and a sloping neck.  The design is a plant pattern which extends up from the shoulder to the neck.  The bowl is highly polished and fired a deep black.  It is signed, “Marie + Julian” on the bottom.  The bowl is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  There is one small rub below the shoulder and a small pre-firing indention on the shoulder (last photo).

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 1,800.00
Martinez, Maria  –  Jar with Rain and Plant Designs “Marie + Santana”, 1940’s

This jar by Maria Martinez is one of her classic pieces.  It was made and polished by Maria Martinez and painted by her daughter-in-law Santana. It has a very highly polished surface. The design around the shoulder is a rain and plant pattern.  It is tightly painted while allowing the polished surface of the bowl to remain exposed.  The firing has given the bowl a nearly gunmetal appearance.   The rounded shoulder and sloping neck are an excellent example of Maria’s pottery from this time.  The jar is signed on the bottom, “Marie + Santana”.  It is in good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  Definitely a classic!  

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 2,000.00
Martinez, Maria – Jar with Avanyu (Maria Popovi 1069)

This is a short neck jar by Maria Martinez and her son, Popovi Da.  Maria made and polished the jar while it was painted by her son, Popovi Da  (1923-1971). The jar is highly polished and has the classic water serpent (avanyu) painted around the shoulder. This particular shape, with the round body and the short neck, is one which is easily one of Maria’s most famous forms.  The firing is nearly gunmetal in coloration with a very high shine.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Maria Popovi 1069“. The signature indicates that it was made around in October 1969.  The jar is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 4,400.00
Martinez, Maria –  Bowl with Cloud and Lightning Designs (1920’s), “Marie”

This is a classic bowl by Maria Martinez from 1920-25.  It was made and polished by Maria Martinez and painted by her husband, Julian.  These early pieces are signed, “Marie”, although Julian was painting the designs.  It was not until around 1925 that they began to sign both names to the pottery.   This bowl has a slightly rounded shoulder and the design is painted in the area between the shoulder and the neck.  The pattern is a cloud and lightning design.  The bowl was highly fired to create a near gunmetal (metallic) appearance.  The gunmetal color achieved on these early pieces was from the heat of the firing.  The bowl is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Marie”.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 1,800.00
Martinez, Maria – Water Jar with Gourd Indentions (1920’s)

This is certainly one of the most unique jars we have had by Maria Martinez.  The jar is from the 1920’s and it was made by Maria Martinez and her husband, Julian.  It is the actual form, with the indented sections around the shoulder, which is so unusual!  Maria is known for her traditional shapes and highly polished surfaces.  In the 1920’s, this long neck style of jar was one of her most classic forms.  The last image in this post shows her working on a jar with indented sides!  It is not a style which she made after the 1920’s and this is one of the first I have seen in person.  However, each indention is fully polished, as is the entire jar. The neck was painted by Julian and there is a cloud pattern and a turned out neck.  The jar was traditionally fired and has a nearly gunmetal appearance.  It is a creative piece of her pottery and an extraordinary part of the history of her pottery.  The jar is signed, “Marie” in the bottom.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  There are few small surface scratches, but nothing unexpected with the age of the jar.  It is not just exciting but an honor to have such a historically important jar come back into the gallery!

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 4,200.00
Martinez, Maria – Small “Fish” Plate (Maria + Popovi,1956-9)

This is a classic black plate by Maria Martinez and her son, Popovi Da. Maria made and polished the plate while it was painted by her son, Popovi Da  (1923-1971). The plate is highly polished and is one of his few pieces which has an animal motif.  This plate has a fish as the central design.  Fish were among the most common animal designs used by Popovi on his plates.  Popovi Da was an accomplished painter in the San Ildefonso two-dimensional style and this plate captures that style of his art.  The fish is beautifully painted to capture a sense of motion and fill the entire space.  It was only from 1956-9  that Popovi painted these pieces, which are among the most sought after and best of his career!   It is  signed on the back in the clay, “Maria Popovi“. The signature indicates that it was made around 1956-9.   The plate is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 5,800.00
Sale!
Martinez, Maria – Large Plate with San Ildefonso Birds (1920’s)

This is an extraordinary large plate by Maria Martinez and her husband, Julian.  Maria would make the pottery and Julian would paint the design.  The unique aspects of this piece are the size and the design.  Many of their early plates were under 12″ diameter, as they were less likely to break in the firing.  As well, this design is one which is an early pattern and one which was very rarely used in their pottery.  The design is a series of three San Ildefonso birds.  The heads are near the rim and the wings are extending backwards with the triangle in the center making up their legs.  However, as a whole pattern, it has a beautiful flow and dynamic appearance.  The “wings” on this piece are a design which in Richard Spivey’s book, “The Legacy of Maria Poveka Martinez”, it is identified as an “avanyu” (see last photo).  However, I spoke at length with a San Ildefonso potter about this particular design and he explained how it was a bird and that it is a design often seen around the Pueblo.  To have his input gives an important addition of cultural knowledge about these pieces!  As for the plate, it is in good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  There are some light surface scratches which are not unexpected in a piece from this time period.  The plate is signed on the back in the clay, “Marie + Julian”.  In terms of the photos, I tried to take them at different angles and different lighting to reveal both design and condition.  The curve of the plate makes it difficult but I think if you view the various photos it is possible to have a good idea of the overall condition.   This is definitely one of those exciting pieces by Maria & Julian Martinez which rarely come around to the marketplace!

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 11,000.00 $ 8,800.00
Martinez, Maria  – Jar with Feather Design (Maria + Santana, 1954-6)

This is a classic jar by Maria Martinez.  It was made by Maria Martinez and painted by her daughter-in-law Santana Martinez (the wife of Adam Martinez, Maria’s son).  It is very highly polished and has a glassy surface.  The design is a feather pattern which encircles the shoulder of the jar.  The shape of the bowl has a wide shoulder and a sloping neck. The feather are painted very tightly from the rim to the neck. The bottom of the jar is indented and signed in the clay.   It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 1,800.00
Martinez, Maria – Feather and Bird Wing Plate (Maria + Popovi)

This is a variation on the classic eagle feather design plate by Maria Martinez and her son, Popovi Da. Maria made and polished the plate while it was painted by her son, Popovi Da  (1923-1971). The plate is highly polished with a deep black shine.  The design has the eagle feathers and the bird wings.  The plate is signed on the back in the clay, “Maria Popovi“. The signature indicates that it was an early piece of their pottery from 1956-9).  The plate is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. I included photos of the plate turned in different directions to show how the shine appears on the piece.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 1,700.00
Martinez, Maria – Wide Black Plainware Bowl “Maria Poveka”, 1950’s

In the 1950’s Maria Martinez created a series of pieces which were simply stone polished with no design.  As she primarily made the pottery and polished it this was fitting with the other pieces of her career.  This wide bowl is very highly polished and it is fired a dark black.  The bowl is signed in the clay, “Maria Poveka”.  This is a combination of her Anglo and Tewa names.  Her name, “Poveka” means “Water Lilly”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 1,800.00
Martinez, Maria  – Wide Bowl with Feather Design (Maria + Santana, 1954-6)

This wide bowl by Maria Martinez is one of her classic pieces in both shape and design.  It was made by Maria Martinez and painted by her daughter-in-law Santana Martinez (the wife of Adam Martinez, Maria’s son).  It is very highly polished and has a glassy surface.  The design is a feather pattern which encircles the shoulder of the jar.  The shape of the bowl is a very traditional one for Maria.  She would often say that this wide shape was made so the bowl could be easily held in both hands.  The deep black firing and the tightly painted designs using the matte clay work perfectly together.  The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Maria + Santana”.  It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  There is one very small rub on the rim, but otherwise the condition is exceptional, which can also be seen from the bottom of the bowl, which has virtually no wear!

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 2,200.00
Sale!
King, Charles S., “Spoken Through Clay”

Spoken Through Clay

A NEW  RELEASE SPECIAL:  $95.00, including shipping (US)! Check out the new review in the Denver Post!

 Just a few things which make this book unique!
*   The size!  The book is 11.75″ x 14.25″ and weights over 8 pounds!
*  The photography of the pottery is stunning, emphasizing the individual pieces.
*  Each caption is the artist discussing the individual piece on the page.
*  The artist “biographies” are from interviews with the artists and they discuss their art, culture, lives and history.
*  Organization: The book is not organized by pueblo or family, but entails new ways to think about the future of Native pottery.
*  Printing in Italy gives the book very high quality color and paper.
* The photos of the living artists were taken by Will Wilson using a tin-type process. He was a recipient of the 2107 New Mexico Governor’s Award for the Arts in photography!
*  The book features work by more than 30 contemporary potters and more than a dozen important historic potters.
*  There are essays by myself, Peter Held and Eric Dobkin.  They add to the overall understanding of the project a historic perspective.

_____________________________________________

August 18, Pasatiempo Review

“Charles S. King’s new book, Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery in the Southwest, The Eric S. Dobkin Collection, is spectacularly heavy —which is a problem from a practical standpoint, because once you open it, you won’t want to put it down. With dreamy tintype artist portraits by Diné photographer Will Wilson, dazzlingly crisp images from Addison Doty, and intimate first-person essays written by dozens of artists, the book is a visually delicious, intellectually consuming foray into historic and contemporary Southwestern pottery. In short, prepare to swoon.

If you’re thinking of this as a coffee-table book, you’ll need to imagine a decently sized coffee table. The book is more than a foot tall and, when opened, two feet wide, but its outsize appearance belies the often delicate beauty of its contents: hundreds of individual pieces of pottery from Eric S. Dobkin’s exquisitely curated collection — arguably the largest and most important of its kind. Gallery owner, author, and Pueblo pottery expert King designed Spoken Through Clay to be approachable for those unfamiliar with Native American pottery. “In the age of social media, I wanted to make the book both visually striking and personal,” King said. The book opens with essays by King, Dobkin, and curator Peter Held, who calls clay “the most archival of materials … seductive, sensuous, responsive, geologic, and malleable.”

“I wanted the end result of the book to be that the reader would connect with the artists in a personal way, beyond just the art, and understand the time it takes to become an artist, to achieve success,” King said. Sprawling yet intimate, Spoken Through Clay introduces its readers not just to the beauty of Southwestern pottery but also to the fascinating stories of the people who make it.Iris McLister, Pasatiempo

____________________________________

“It’s one of the things that makes us who we are. It’s what holds our family together. We are a family of potters. It’s our identity. People don’t realize how much work goes into it just processing the clay and making it. You have to do it with your heart.”—Linda Tafoya-Sanchez

 

FEATURED ARTISTS Grace Medicine Flower • Dextra Quotskuyva • Autumn Borts-Medlock • Jody Naranjo • Harrison Begay Jr. • Jordan Roller • Sara Fina Tafoya • Lonnie Vigil • Margaret Tafoya • Steve Lucas • LuAnn Tafoya • Loren Ami • Toni Roller • Popovi Da • Linda Tafoya-Sanchez • Mark Tahbo • James Ebelacker• Yvonne Lucas • Jeff Roller • Lisa Holt • Harlan Reano • Nampeyo • Jacquie Stevens • Nathan Youngblood • Jacob Koopee Jr. • Jennifer Moquino • Christopher Youngblood • Maria Martinez • Tony Da • Tammy Garcia • Virgil Ortiz • Joseph Lonewolf • Johnathan Naranjo • Nancy Youngblood • Les Namingha • Russell Sanchez • Christine McHorse • Richard Zane Smith • Rondina Huma • Susan Folwell • Dominique Toya • Jody Folwell

Spoken Through Clay features the pottery of iconic Native American artists from historic potters Nampeyo and Maria Martinez, to contemporary potters Tammy Garcia, Virgil Ortiz, and many others, are featured in a new book published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. Spoken Through Clay: Native Pottery of the Southwest showcases nearly three hundred pottery vessels from the acclaimed Eric S. Dobkin Collection, covering a wide range of mostly Pueblo artists from the Southwest.

“The physical scale of the vessels combined with the depth of the contemporary collection [is] breathtaking,” says author Charles S. King. The book is part of a “transitional process of looking to the clay, the vessel, and the potter’s voice and allowing the pieces to stand on the merit of their artistic integrity.”

The book includes portraits and voices of renowned potters speaking about their artistry and technique, families, culture, and traditions. Many of the artists are connected by Pueblos, generations, or family members. Dynamic color photography captures the depth and dimension of the pieces, while the artists provide an illuminating perspective through narrative captions. Artists, academics, collectors, family members, and gallerists add additional insight about the lives, historical context, and importance of these potters and their work.

SPOKEN THROUGH CLAY Native Pottery of the Southwest The Eric S. Dobkin Collection
By Charles S. King Essay by Peter Held

Artist portraits by Will Wilson
ISBN: 978-0-89013-624-9

352 pages, 320 color plates, 40 artist portraits

Publication Date: August 01, 2017
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Charles S. King is the author of Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya, The Life and Art of Tony Da, Virgil Ortiz: Revolt 1680/2180, and numerous articles on Pueblo pottery. He has served on boards of art associations, judged pottery at prestigious events, and lectures about the art form. His business King Galleries represents many of today’s leading Native potters and important historic works in clay. Charles lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

$ 125.00 $ 95.00
Martinez, Maria – Fully Polished Open Bowl, “Maria Poveka”, 1950’s

During the 1950’s Maria Martinez made and polished pottery and signed using her Tewa name, “Maria Poveka”.  Poveka means “Water Lilly”.  This is one of her classic open bowls, which are polished on both the inside and outside. Interestingly, today, few potters will attempt to fully polish the inside and outside of a piece, as it adds the possibility of it cracking.  The bowl is very highly polished and there are small areas of gunmetal and coloration in the black from the heat of the firing.  The bowl is signed in the clay on the bottom, “Maria Pove’ka”.   It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

To learn more about Maria’s signatures, click here.

$ 1,550.00
Spivey, Richard, “The Legacy of Maria Poveka Martinez”

 “The ceramicist Maria Poveka Martinez (1887-1980), known to the world as “Maria,” continues, more than two decades after her death, to be the most famous and recognizable Native American artist ever known. Partly it is that her pots, humbly called, are breathtaking works of art no matter the comparison. It is also true that by virtue of her enormously generous spirit and radiant being she managed a kind of approachability that most legends protect themselves against. We feel we know her when her pots have touched us, and out of this exchange something is better in this world.

        The Legacy of Maria Poveka Martinez is Richard L. Spivey’s masterwork as well, his tribute to a friendship with a great artist that began with Maria’s son Popovi Da and extended to Maria and to many of her family members who joined over the years in the collaborations that brought San Ildefonso ceramic art to the world while reviving its ancient roots for every generation of artist to come.

        Two hundred fine examples of Maria’s pottery are reproduced, many heretofore hidden in private collections and museum storage. Among these are nine magnificent storage jars comprising the entirety of the artist’s production in this form. The author’s long association with the family yields reflections on the artist and her important collaborative relationships with Julian Martinez, their son Popovi Da, and daughter-in-law Santana Martinez. The artistic achievements of Maria and Julian’s descendants document significant developments in Pueblo ceramics at San Ildefonso. Many of grandson Tony Da’s works are assembled for the first time.

All of the pottery types and design motifs are here in the best examples from a career that spanned some seventy productive years, along with their identifying signatures, but it is the container of Maria’s life that holds it all with such heart.”

This is a great book if you want to learn more about Maria Martinez, Popovi Da, Tony Da, Santana & Adam, Barbara Gonzales, Cavan Gonzales and other members of the Martinez Family.

Softcover, 208 pages

$ 25.00
Martinez, Maria – Plainware Plate “Maria Poveka”, 1950’s

In the 1950’s Maria Martinez created a series of pieces which were simply stone polished with no design.  As she primarily made the pottery and polished it this was fitting with the other pieces of her career.  This small plate is fully polished on the front and matte on the back.  It is signed in the clay, “Maria Poveka”.  This is a combination of her Anglo and Tewa names.  Her name, “Poveka” means “Water Lilly”.  The plate is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 900.00
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