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 Virgil OrtizVirgil Ortiz

Virgil Oritz

Virgil Ortiz is one of the most innovative potters working today. He is a son of noted potter Seferina Ortiz and grandson of Laurencita Herrera. His sisters Janice, Inez, and Joyce are also potters along with his niece, Lisa Holt. He encourages his nieces and nephews also to continue making traditional pottery. His work has been featured in numerous museum exhibits nationwide, and he is also known for his fashion designs. He has won multiple awards at Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Indian Market, and other events. His pottery can be found in museums worldwide. “The thought has never crossed my mind to be anything other than an artist and fashion designer. Art is in my blood”, says Virgil Ortiz, a Cochiti Pueblo Native. Sought by celebrities, royalty, and collectors, American Indian artist Virgil Ortiz artworks move into a new era combining art, décor, fashion, video, and film. Hailing from a family of celebrated Pueblo potters.  From the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, and Denver Art Museum, to the Hertogenbosch Museum in The Netherlands, and Foundation, and Cartier’s Paris, France.  Virgil Ortiz’s exquisite clay works are exhibited worldwide. Born in 1969, the youngest of six children, Ortiz grew up in a creative environment.  Storytelling, collecting clay, gathering wild plants, and producing figurative pottery was part of everyday life. His grandmother Laurencita Herrera and his mother, Seferina Ortiz, were both renowned Pueblo potters.  “I didn’t even know it was art that was being produced while I was growing up,” he remembers. Virgil Ortiz, who works and lives in Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, has worked very hard and has had a few lucky breaks.  His efforts have propelled him to a preeminent place among contemporary Native artists. After a highly successful collaboration with fashion mogul Donna Karan, in which he developed boldly patterned textiles based on his graphic decorative painting.  Ortiz launched his fashion line. His designs are captivating, provocative, and edgy thus creating the high demand. His sharp laser-cut leather jackets, swinging taffeta skirts, cashmere sweaters and silk scarves echo the voluminous contours and sinuous motifs of Pueblo pottery. He showcases the richness of indigenous high fashion and compelling storytelling of Pueblo culture and history. Virgil Ortiz debut Colorblind, his all-new T-shirt collection blending art, vibrant colors and graphic images.  Each of which portrays his interpretation of the historic Pueblo Revolt of 1680 – the First American Revolution. “I want to pay tribute to our great leader Po’pay and ancestors that lived and walked on our lands, and respect that their spirit will live on through me.” Creating a global awareness of Pueblo culture is reflected in the design components that reach past a traditional Ortiz sculpture.  His art form delves into an untapped age of décor elements that honor a prosperous civilization with skill and vision.  Ortiz also designed 'Indigenous Imprints'®, a carpet collection designed exclusively for Aqua Hospitality Carpets. This collection consists of twenty unique patterns.  His design concepts are a fascinating balance between contemporary and the traditional for guest rooms, corridors and public spaces in some of the most exclusive hotels and resorts worldwide. 'Indigenous Imprint's® is a natural progression toward leading-edge furnishings and adornment that capture the elegance and spirit of Ortiz’s inspiration. Beyond the notoriety of his artistic talent, Ortiz’s professional agenda centers on a lifelong dream to create opportunities for children in his tribal community that reflect the legacy of his ancestors. “It’s important to recognize that Pueblo communities are very much alive.  They have a level of vitality that speaks to generations of strength, persistence, brilliance, and thriving energy. I have something vital to do before I go. I want to preserve my culture and inspire our youth to accomplish whatever it is they dream to be.” – Virgil Ortiz  

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Ortiz, Virgil – Traditional Jar with Birds & Cloud Designs

This is a new traditional design inspired jar from Virgil Ortiz.  This piece is coil built, polished and painted with wild spinach for the black.  Virgil said that he was inspired by some historic Cochiti pottery recently to create this piece which has such classic imagery.  This jar has a wild spinach design around the rim. The “wild spinach” is the plant used to paint the black on the pottery.   Around the side of the jar, Virgil painted Cochiti style birds and clouds.  Both designs are often seen on historic Cochiti pottery.  The birds, of course, are somewhat modernised in Virgil’s interprertive style.  Separating the birds are cloud designs.  Virgil tried something a bit different with his painting and firing to give clouds a sense of motion. The “motion” comes through the darker areas around them creating what Virgil called, “shadow clouds”. Take a closer look and you can see it’s not just smoke clouds, but also designs created by them!  In addition to the classic imagery, Virgil has also included his signature “x”, which he uses on all his pottery.  On the neck of the jar, there is a space on the rim of the neck where it is unpainted, which is the “heartline”, which Virgil always paints on his clay vessels.  The jar is signed on the bottom.

$ 3,200.00
Ortiz, Virgil – “Saints and Sinners” Bust (2005)

This is an important figurative work by Virgil Ortiz.  It is thematically based on the historic Monos figures from Cochiti Pueblo which began in the 1880’s.  However, more importantly, it is part of his “Saints and Sinners” series from 2005.  This was the first major show the gallery did with him and the first where he began the process towards his now famous Pueblo Revolt series.  Virgil said of his series in the book, “Revolt”:

“One of the first series Ortiz created as he began to explore the idea of the Pueblo Revolt in his art was “Saints and Sinners” (2005). These figures brought form to various Catholic Saints. Virgil chose the particular saints for a variety of reasons, but most simply reflected the Spanish impact on Pueblo life and culture. It was this loss of Pueblo religion, one of the factors leading to the Pueblo Revolt, which gave this concept such power. As the series progressed Ortiz also believed that there needed to be a counterbalance to these saints. He decided to create a group of ‘sinners’. “You never really know who is the saint and who is the sinner in real life, or as the saying goes, ‘Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.’” Virgil Ortiz: Revlot 1680/2180 by Charles S. King

This figure is important in the series, as it was the first one when he called to tell me about how the show had changed from “Saints” to “Saints and Sinners”!  The figure was used on the gallery invitation and I also attached the inside of the invitation as the last image.  The figure is also published in the book, ‘Free Spirit”.  The figure is made with native clay and painted with wild spinach (black) and red clay slips.  The style is in his “S&M” figures which he first made around 2000.  Note the use of the sun design around the neck.  The pice feels dramatic with the upturned face.  The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery, continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.  It is an exceptional piece and imbued with some amazing provenance and history.  This piece is signed on the bottom.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  Included is a copy of the book, “Free Spirit”.

$ 3,900.00
Ortiz, Virgil – Blind Archer with Red Rose & Wildflowers Jar

This is a striking but smaller jar by Virgil Ortiz.  The piece is coil built and painted with native clay slips and wild spinach (a plant) for the black.  The jar is painted with one of Virgi’s iconic images. It is that of Tahu, the Blind Archer, with a rose in her mouth.  The story for this image is part of the Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180 series.

“The various characters that make up the Pueblo Revolt series are all inspired by names and words in Keres and other Puebloan languages.  “Tahu” is a word used as a sign of respect for older Pueblo women.  ”  The story of the blind archers is about a young Tahu who is blinded by one of the Conquistadors during an archery contest.  Years later she becomes the leader of the Blind Archers and part of the Pueblo Revolt.  Ortiz imbues the storyline with the importance of survival, courage, hope, and determination.” Revolt 1680/2180, Charles S. King

Separating the two Tahu images are wildflowers, which curl and swirl up from the base of the jar.  Note as well the “spirit line” which is a space in the painting on the rim.   Virgil has also incorporated his signature “x”, which is the turkey track, onto the jar. The piece is signed on the bottom.  It is from 2013 and it is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.   The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay. His work can be found in museums worldwide, including the Fondation Cartier in Paris, the Heard Museum, the Denver Art Museum and more.

$ 3,600.00
Ortiz, Virgil – Blind Archer and Hummingbirds Canteen (2018)

This is a larger canteen by Virgil Ortiz.  The piece is coil built and painted with native clay slips and wild spinach (a plant) for the black.   The design on the front of the canteen is Tahu, the Blind Archer in her 1680 version.  The story for this imagery from the Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180 series.  Regarding Tahu, the Blind Archer, Virgil gave her the iconic line, “Don’t be blinded by your Fear”.  The last photo is one by Virgil of Tahu standing in the forest and you can see where he has taken this imagery to create the design on the canteen.  I wrote in Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180:

“In 2007 Ortiz began to identify and give form to characters who would populate his fictionalized version of the Pueblo Revolt: Tahu, a girl blinded by the Spanish conquistadors; Mopez, the leader of the Pueblo Runners; and the Castilians to represent the Spanish invaders. The characters who make up the Pueblo Revolt series are inspired by names and words in Keres (the indigenous language of Cochiti Pueblo) and other Puebloan languages. “Tahu” is a word used as a sign of respect for older Pueblo women. “Mopez” means “cardinal” and was the Keres name of Ortiz’s brother. “I wanted to use native language words and names to identify the characters. Part of the Revolt story had to be the actual events, but I also wanted it to tie into our language. If I could get the kids interested in history I might also be able to get them interested in our language and keep it alive.”

There are also two hummingbirds which are symbolic for Virgil’s mother, Seferina Ortiz, who taught him to make pottery.  Can you see the “spirit line” in the design? It is at the rim of the canteen.  The spirit line is a break in the painting and used on traditional Cochiti pottery.  Virgil has also incorporated his signature “x”, which is the turkey track into the designs.  The back of the canteen has a wildflower design which encircles the piece and flows onto the front.  The piece is signed on the back.  The canteen sits in a metal museum mount so show both the front and the back of the piece.  The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.

$ 3,500.00
Ortiz, Virgil – 21″ Tall Monos “Madame Butterfly Opera Singer” (1999)

The figurative work of Virgil Ortiz is based on the historic Monos figures from Cochiti Pueblo which began in the 1880’s.  The figures were created as social commentary in a world where various cultures were quickly filtering in and assimilating into New Mexico with the arrival of the railroads. This is one of the taller traditional-style figures we have had from Virgil. Amazingly, the entire piece is coil built so that it is hollow.  The designs are painted on the clay surface using wild spinach (a local plant).  This figure is one of his “opera singers” who Virgil called, “Madame Butterfly”, with her butterfly wings.  He created a series of “opera singers” in the late 1990’s and they remain one of the most sought-after of his earlier works.  Note the incredible detail in the dress with the tiny tendril of designs.  There are extensions of the wings on the side.  The face is dramatic and expressive!  There is something wonderfully powerful about the pieces in terms of design and scale!  The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery, continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.  This piece is signed on the bottom.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 10,500.00
Ortiz, Virgil – “Castilians, Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180” Water Jar

This tall jar by Virgil Ortiz tells part of his story of the Pueblo Revolt.   The designs are from his Revolt 1680/2180 series. There are two figures representing the Castilians or Conquistadors in the series of his work.  One side has the Conquistador from 1680 and the other, the Castilian from 2180.  Separating them are wildflower tendrils of design.  Note on one side the additional triangular design as part of the imagery.  Both figures are intricately painted using wild spinach plant for the black.  There are turkey tracks which looks like an “x” near the Pueblo tendrils.  The neck of the jar has a simple traditional cloud design. The jar shape itself is elegant with the high shoulder and short neck.  The jar is made from native clay, native clay slips and wild spinach (the black).  The piece is signed on the bottom. The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.

In the book, “Revolt”, I wrote about these as follows:

In 2007 Ortiz began to identify and give form to the various characters which would populate his story of the Pueblo Revolt.  Tahu; the girl blinded by the Spanish Conquistadors, Mopez; the leader of the Runners, and the Castilians to represent the Spanish invaders.  “I have created Native Superheroes in the form of clay, photography, video and film, which allows me the freedom to express my personal interpretation of the REVOLT – The First American Revolution.  The Venutian Soldiers are futurist, herculean superheroes, over eight feet tall, who fight mainly at nighttime and possess extraordinary strength and magical powers”.  Here the Venutian Soldiers reflect the destruction of pueblos by the Spanish during their original conquest. In their future version, it is the Castilians who have destroyed their ‘world’ and the Venutian Soldiers are the embodiment of this devastation. Their environment has been destroyed through nuclear weapons causing the Venutian Soldiers to use oxygen tanks and gas masks to survive. This story is a thoughtful embodiment of a world overrun and the natural order destroyed yet survivable by the sense of “Pueblo community”.  The Venutians are lead by Tahu and Kootz to find a hospitable land and “rebuild their traditions and ways of life on ancestral sacred lands”.

$ 5,500.00
Ortiz, Virgil – “Venutian Soldiers, Pueblo Revolt: 2180” Water Jar

This water jar includes some of the most iconic images in the work of Virgil Ortiz.  The design is taken from his Revolt 1680/2180 series. Thre are four figures representing the Pueblo Warriors from the Venutian Soldier series of his work.  It is a powerful story of the connection between man and the environment.  The figures are each intricately painted and inspired by photography work he did in 2012.  The last photos are some of his photography for the Venutian Soldier series.  While the figures are intricately painted, the space between them is left nearly blank. However, there is a turkey track which looks like an “x”, next to each of the figures, signifying their travels.  The neck of the jar has a plant and cloud design. The jar shape itself is elegant with the high shoulder and short neck.  The jar is made from native clay, native clay slips and wild spinach (the black).  The piece is signed on the bottom. The use of traditional and contemporary imagery has become a standard for Virgil’s pottery as he pushes the boundaries of contemporary Native clay.

In the book, “Revolt”, I wrote about these as follows:

In the summer of 2012 Ortiz premiered his “Venutian Soldiers’.   The story of the Pueblo Revolt was becoming more evolved and Ortiz was able to have fun developing more background for his characters and the events before the Revolt 2180. “I have created Native Superheroes in the form of clay, photography, video and film, which allows me the freedom to express my personal interpretation of the REVOLT – The First American Revolution.  The Venutian Soldiers are futurist, herculean superheroes, over eight feet tall, who fight mainly at nighttime and possess extraordinary strength and magical powers”.  Here the Venutian Soldiers reflect the destruction of pueblos by the Spanish during their original conquest. In their future version, it is the Castilians who have destroyed their ‘world’ and the Venutian Soldiers are the embodiment of this devastation. Their environment has been destroyed through nuclear weapons causing the Venutian Soldiers to use oxygen tanks and gas masks to survive. This story is a thoughtful embodiment of a world overrun and the natural order destroyed yet survivable by the sense of “Pueblo community”.  The Venutians are lead by Tahu and Kootz to find a hospitable land and “rebuild their traditions and ways of life on ancestral sacred lands”.

$ 4,400.00
Ortiz, Virgil – Old Style “Monos” Figure

Virgil Ortiz is known for his innovative style of Cochiti pottery, inspired by the Monos figures made at the pueblo in the 1880’s. As I wrote in the book, “Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180,

“This use of the figures for social commentary is where they derived their name, monos. The word is a colloquial blend of Spanish and Keres, with inexact definitions that range from “mimic,” “mocking,” or “cute” to “monkey.” While “monkey” might have suggested the elongated bodies and arms or the simplified open-mouthed faces of the figures, it was also a subtle racial pejorative aimed at their Cochiti makers.”

This is one of Virgil’s traditional clay figures made from native clay and painted with native clays and wild spinach (black).  The figure has been traditionally fired.  As noted the Monos figures were originally created as objects of social criticism and reflection and Virgil continues on this same path in his contemporary work.  This figure is made in the “old style” and as a reference check out the final image by Ben Wittick from the 1880’s. These figures were made with hollow arms and “open” hands.  The mouths and eyes were also open.  Here Virgil has revived those older technical forms. The designs on the figure a spinach leaf patterns on the vest and pants. The little pocket on the vest and the goatee on the figure are very reminiscent of the early Monos figures, as those were personal identifiers which were incorporated into the design.  Note how deeply the black fired on this piece!  The earrings are also traditional red clay and added after the firing. It is signed on the bottom and is from 2018.

$ 5,900.00
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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

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“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
King, Charles S. – “Virgil Ortiz: Revolt 1680/2180”

Over the past decade, Charles King has worked closely with Virgil Ortiz at King Galleries.  Virgil has premiered nearly all his new series at the gallery during that time.  In preparation for this book of Virgil’s work surrounding the Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180, King interviewed and worked with Virgil to help give new insight into this amazing accomplishment.  The result is the first comprehensive analysis and presentation of how Virgil conceived and then brought to life his various series dealing with the Pueblo Revolt.

Virgil Ortiz is an internationally renowned ceramicist, fashion designer, and graphic artist from Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico. He uses contemporary art to blend historic events with futuristic elements. Set against Ortiz’s graphic murals, the exhibition “Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz” features 31 clay figures and invites visitors to immerse themselves in a storyline that Ortiz created that begins with the Pueblo revolt of 1680. 

In addition to King’s essay, there is a spectacular forward by Herman Agoyo, who helped bring the statue of Po’Pay to the US Capitol.  Peter Held, renown curator of the Ceramics Research Center, rounds out the essays with insights into how Virgil’s work fits into the modern world of ceramics.

If you have always wanted to understand Virgil’s take on the Pueblo Revolt and how he has re-imagined it in the future, this is certainly the only book to give such insight.  Take a moment and delve into his art and check out the amazing ceramic pieces also featured in the book!  It is stunning!


Revolt 1680/2180: Virgil Ortiz
by Charles King, Foreword by Herman Agoyo
Denver Art Museum, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-914738-98-5
Hardcover, 7 ¾ x 9 in.
80 pages, 58 illustrations

$ 35.00
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