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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” Kolowisi and Dragonfly Jar

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:

“I’m using the avanyu as a theme for a small collection of pots. This jar has a Zuni style representation of “Kolowisi” or rather, my interpretation of the water serpent. They are 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.”

The jar is a taller shape with a very slightly turned out rim.  The jar has a stylized kolowisi or feathered water serpent, encircling the piece.  In addition, there is a small dragonfly.  In Zuni culture, the dragonfly is significant as a prayer messengers. There is additional banding of designs and color.  The jar is painted with acrylic, as with all of Les’s pottery.  It is a wonderfully painted and dramatic jar.   It is signed on the bottom.

$ 2,200.00
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 – Hopi Hummingbirds Jar

This is a striking painted jar by Les Namingha.  The jar is one of Les’s iconic shapes with a round body and an elongated neck. The background of the jar has been painted with large swaths of color which Les has blended one into the next.  The green, red. blue and brown all create a subtle mosaic flow of coloration meant to represent the colorations on a hummingbird.  On the surface of the jar are painted two large Hopi style hummingbirds.  Each large bird is designed as if they are in frantic motion.  They are further detailed with additional Hopi-Tewa designs.  Note the use of the classic red and burgundy colors in the designs.  The “yellow” of the birds represents the “yellow-ware” of the classic Hopi-Tewa pottery.  The coloration works well on this jar on various levels.  The jar is signed on the bottom.

$ 2,000.00
Namingha, Les – Mesa Birds at Sunset

This is an intricately painted jar by Les Namingha.  The jar is one of Les’s iconic shapes with a round body and an elongated neck. The background of the jar has striated bands of color.  Les has combined the color with mica to give the piece added dimension and texture.  The sections of them are reflective of the Hopi mesas and their colorations at sunset. There are give Hopi-Tewa birds which are painted onto the surface of the jar.  Each bird is a different color and they are detailed with Hopi-Tewa designs.  Each bird is designed as if they are reflecting the colors of the setting sun. Striking! The jar is signed on the bottom.

$ 2,000.00
Namingha, Les – “Clangere” Jar

This is an intricately painted jar by Les Namingha.  The piece is entitled, “Clangere”.  While much of Les’s pottery is inspired by Hopi and Zuni imagery, there are often those pieces inspired by music.  Les says of this jar:

“Clangere” Latin.  Clang(ing). The design represents sound and reverberations.”

The shape of the jar is one of his classic forms with a wide body and elongated neck. The piece is painted with strong geometric patterns, which certainly do make one think of music and sound.  The small sections of pointilism are a style which he often uses on his pottery.  The design extends downward to the vase and up to the neck.  The colors are vivid but easily connect to the concept of this piece.   It is signed on the bottom.

$ 2,500.00
Namingha, Les – “Hopi-Zuni Modern” Large Jar

This large jar by Les Namingha is a striking combination of Hopi designs along with contemporary textured designs.  The shape of the jar has a round shoulder and an asymmetrical neck and opening.  The jar is painted with a variety of designs.  There are stripes of Hopi-Tewa designs.  They are painted in a manner as if they are being painted over by the other designs.  There are larger white bird swirls and multi-color bands of rain patterns.  The pointilism sections are areas which are inspired by Zuni katsina figures and which Les has often painted on his pottery.  The fascinating part of this jar is the sections which are painted with a more textural feel.  These areas are the deep blue and red with the white rain patterns.  As well, the various large gray geometric forms also have a textural feel.  For Les’s pottery, adding a textural dimension is not something new but it intensifies the layering aspect of the work.   There is something distinctive about this jar and the layers over older style of designs, as if Les is moving on to another new direction in his art.  It is a simple, provocative and powerful jar.  The jar is signed on the bottom.

$ 7,200.00
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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