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Les Namingha

Les Namingha

Les Namingha is the son of Emerson Namingha, the grandson of Rachel Nampeyo, great-grandson of Annie Healing, and a great-great-grandson of Nampeyo of Hano. Les blends and deconstructs traditional and historic designs in an amazingly modern style. The precision of his painting is undoubtedly a reflection of his learning to make pottery from his aunt, Dextra Quotskuyva of Hopi, a master potter and world renown innovator.  Les has won numerous awards for his pottery at Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Market, and other events along with being featured in multiple books on Hopi and Pueblo art. He continues to be one of the dynamic innovators in Pueblo pottery! Les Namingha transforms and challenges the surface expectations of Hopi and Pueblo pottery through his creative designs, textures, and materials.  He is much a painter as a potter, and his vessels rely on form, surface design, and color to reveal their ancient and modern artistic influences. Les says of his work; “Sometimes the painting goes with the flow of what’s in you.  There’s not as much thought as in other pieces. That comes from my love of abstract painting where the process is the process.  There are other works where there is thought that goes into it. Maybe I’m working on the under-structure design with painting first and then laying it aside for a bit.  I’ll think about where to go next and see where the piece leads me. There is also solely relying on the teaching of the older Nampeyo type designs. There the process for me is trying to work with the color since the structure is already there. The question is what I’m going to do with it. “
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Namingha, Les – “Pueblo Series” Jar with Zia Birds

This jar is part of a new series of pieces by Les Namingha.  This, “Pueblo Series” is focused on universal design similarities among various Pueblo pottery. As Les is both Zuni and Hopi-Tewa, he has a lot of cultural imagery to pull from for this body of work.  Les says of this piece:

“This jar is part of my “Pueblo Jar series” that I started recently. This series interprets or incorporates elements from other Pueblos outside of my Zuni and Tewa-Hopi influenced work.  My focus is on finding similarities in design elements across all Pueblo communities.  Here there are two Zia style birds.  There are similar styles of birds seen at Zuni, Acoma, Laguna and in ancient pottery.”

The jar has a round body and a short neck.  The jar has striking colorations and there are birds painted on each side in medallions.  They are additionally designed with different imagery on for the bodies.  One the sides and encircling the jar are large yellow ellipses.  These bold geometrics accentuate the detailed designs on the remainder of the jar.  It is signed on the bottom.  The last photo is one of this jar next to a piece by Elizabeth Medina. It seemed interesting to show the style of birds from Zia in comparison to this jar.

$ 2,200.00
Namingha, Les – Tall Jar with Hopi Bird Medallions

This is an exceptional large jar by Les Namingha.  It is the use of shape, texture, and design which are so strong on his piece.  The jar is tall and near the top, it is indented, with the clay pushed inwards.  In these areas, Les has painted a series of small medallions, each with different Hopi-Tewa designs.  Birds, bird wings, cloud, and lighting are all visible in the designs.  Each medallion is a different color and they either contrasting or complementary to the ones nearby. While the medallions are smooth, the rest of the jar is wonderfully textured with a rough surface and a touch of added mica!  Near the base, there is a water design which is tightly painted encircling the entire jar.  It is as if the birds are all flying in the sky above the water.  The jar gives voice to Hopi-Tewa designs of the past but filtered through the modern lense of Les’s creativity.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 4,600.00
Namingha, Les – Tall Jar with Minimalist Hopi Birds

This tall jar by Les Namingha uses an elongated form as a foundation for his minimalist Hopi-Tewa birds.  The top of the jar has a very painterly style, which is then overpainted with concentric lines.  The side of the jar has four panels, each with a different Hopi-Tewa style of bird.  The birds have been minimalized into more geometric shapes and then layered using color variations.  Each panel is separated by a checkerboard pattern.  The lower section of the jar has black and white geometrics and the very base of the jar is textured.  He has used mica with the paint on the lower sections, so there is just a bit of “sparkle” in the piece.    It is a complex and striking jar.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 4,200.00
Namingha, Les – Large Jar with Hopi and Geometric Designs

This large jar by Les Namingha is inspired by Hopi-Tewa shapes and designs.  The band around the shoulder is a series of very classic Hopi-Tewa designs.  They are painted in traditional colorations.  However, it is the top and bottom of the jar which become the overall focus. The top has multi-color ellipses which extend downward from the rim and over the Hopi designs.  They give the jar a dynamic appearance.  When looking down from the top, the color and shape variations almost have a kinetic feel!  Les said he wanted it to look like a “pinwheel” with spinning colors.  The bottom of the jar has more solid geometric shapes and the multi-color forms are more angular. The jar itself is a classic Hopi shape with the wide shoulder and short neck.  It is a complex and striking jar.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay.

$ 5,000.00
Namingha, Les – Oval Bowl with Hopi Birds (2004)

This oval bowl by Les Namingha is from 2004.  It is painted with acrylic on both the inside and outside.  On the inside, the central panel is painted with a series of Hopi birds.  They are very highly detailed with Les’s famous pointillism style.  There is a strong variation of color and complementary delicate lines.  The around the inside walls of the bowl are very textured to have the feeling of layers of paint.  The outside of the bowl is painted brown.   It is a fascinating piece and great to see how his work has evolved over time.  It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Les Namingha”.

$ 1,100.00
Namingha, Les – Jar with Cloud Swirls

This jar by Les Namingha uses traditional Hopi clay, is painted with bee-weed and natural clay slips,  and it was traditionally fired. The jar is from the late 1990’s.  The piece is fully polished and it has a free flowing cloud, rain and sun design.  It is interesting to see how early on Les had evolved from traditional Hopi-Tewa designs to more create and innovative imagery.  Today, his work utilizes acrylic as opposed to the traditional clay slips.  The various colors on the surface are the blushes from the firing.  It is signed, “Les Namingha” and it is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 900.00
Namingha, Les – “Polychrome I (Dextra Series)” Acrylic on Canvas

This painting by Les Namingha is entitled, “Polychrome II (Dextra Series)”.  It is one of a series of acrylic paintings on canvas he made which explore both his pottery and that of his aunt, Dextra Quotskuyva.  This piece was made in 2010.  The central panel has a classic Hopi-Tewa design with two hummingbirds.  Note the intricacy of the two birds and the surrounding designs.  The various colors depict both his work and Dextra’s.  The painting is signed on the front and on the back.  It is in excellent condition.

$ 1,800.00
Namingha, Les – “Four Seasons Hopi & Zuni Birds” Jar

This is an intricate jar by Les Namingha.  He is one of those potters who continues to defy expectations in his innovative clay art.  He pulls from his artistic background as well as his Zuni and Hopi heritage.  His most recent work has pulled from Hopi imagery yet combined it in a manner which is modern in appearance.   On the surface the jar, there are four seasons and he has portrayed them in an interesting manner.  There are spring, summer, and winter with the three different Hopi birds.  Each bird is painted with various Hopi-Tewa designs. One section with the dark blue at the top is the winter/Fall with the additional bird design made up of Zuni dots behind the Hopi birds.  The large red area with white linear designs is the start of the new year.  The coloration and designs work perfectly on this piece!  It is signed on the bottom.

$ 2,000.00
Folwell, Susan & Les Namingha – “Corn Maiden: Earth Mother” Jar

Susan Folwell (Santa Clara )and Les Namingha (Hopi-Tewa/Zuni) collaborated together for the first time on a series of vessels in a show entitled “Corn:Maiden:Cultures” in 2015. The concept for the exhibition was that the Corn Maiden in Pueblo culture can also be found as a primal female archetype in cultures throughout the world.  There is play back and forth on these vessels as the multi-cultural figures are placed within a Pueblo context as the “Corn Maiden”, who brings the corn, the harvest and life.  This jar has been in an exhibit at the Museum of Indian Art and Culture since 2016.

This large jar was made by Les.  The designs painted by Susan on two sides show a Hopi maiden and a Pueblo maiden.  Her idea was to leave the faces empty, so that they did not represent just one person, but all women.  The two women represent the Pueblo and Hopi ancestry of Les and Susan. Playing from Susan’s more realistic portrayals, Les painted a more modern version of the women on the other two sides.  The angular shape of this vessel, made from Zuni clay, is unusual but also perfect for this important imagery.  In many ways, this powerful jar brings together the ideas of womanhood, femininity, modernism and the continuing importance of the Corn Maiden concept in Pueblo culture.  The dark brown background works perfectly for this intense jar.  Check out more of their exceptional collaborative pottery in the book, “Spoken Through Clay”.

$ 7,700.00
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
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