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Juanita Pena with her pottery in 1939

Juanita Pena and Tony Pena (1898-1984) have been an enigma in San Ildefonso pottery. Her work alone and their work together can be found in numerous books and a variety of photos of her are found in various archives, yet there is almost no printed information on their lives or family. However, the pottery created by Juanita and Tony was outstanding in both form and design. They began with black-on-black ware and in the 1930’s their work evolved into complex carved designs.

Juanita was related to Martina Vigil Montoya (1856-1916) & Florentino Montoya (1858-1918) (who were known for their polychrome pottery). Tony was related to Encarnacion Pena (Soqueen), who was famous as a traditional style painter and part of the San Ildefonso school of painters. They had at least four children, Ignacio (b. 1920) and Maria Susanita (b. 1925), Rosenita (b. 1926) and Philomena (b. 1928), but none continued the pottery making tradition. They continued to make pottery into the 1950’s, but then they stopped as they both were very involved in religious and Kiva activities at the Pueblo which required full time participation.