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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.

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Pena, Juanita – Large Bowl with Rain Designs (1920’s)

This is a striking larger bowl by Juanita Pena. This bowl is an earlier piece of her pottery.  It is fully polished and painted with a rain design. The little “dots” of rain on the design are definitely a signature of her painting style.  The designs are definitely an unusual one with the geometric flow of pattern from one section to the next.  The bowl is highly polished and fired a deep black.  It is in very good condition with no cracks, restoration or repair.  There are some light surface scratches.   It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Juanita”.  

$ 1,200.00
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