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Mark Tahbo

Mark Tahbo Mark Tahbo was a Hopi-Tewa member of the Tobacco Clan.  He had been an active potter since 1978. He learned to make pottery from his great-grandmother, GraceChapalla.  His sisters Diana and Pam were also potters.  Mark was influential in the early 1990’s in recognition of traditional firing of Hopi pottery and keeping it as a practice among Hopi-Tewa pottery. Mark had won numerous awards for his pottery at events such as Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Indian Market, and Gallup Ceremonials.  In 1991, he won Overall Prize at Santa Fe Indian Market.  In 1992 he was awarded Best of Division at the Heard Museum Indian Fair. Awards continued to be presented to him in 1993 and 1994 and later. His pottery is featured in books such as "Talking with the Clay" and "Collecting Authentic Indian Art." He is remembered as one of the exceptional traditional innovators of Hopi pottery!  His pieces reflect the wonderful symmetry and thin walls of an excellent potter. The designs are painted using native clay slips and bee-weed (a plant) for the black. Sadly, Mark passed away in December 2017.  We were lucky to work with him at King Galleries for over 20 years.  His creativity and artistic genius will be missed.

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Tahbo, Mark  – Large Wide Shoulder Plainware Jar (2001)

Mark Tahbo is known not just for his painted pottery, but especially for the blushes on his pottery.  This jar is from 2001.  It is one of his largest plainware pieces that I remember him finishing.  The shape of this jar is exceptional, as there is a slight edge below the shoulder where he started it in the puki.  Then it extends out to the shoulder and rounds into the neck.  The piece is vertically polished to create an “onion-skin” appearance.  It was then outdoor fired to create the coloration.  Mark was masterful at firing and always wanted to achieve dramatic blushes on the surface of his pottery.  When they turned out with variations like on this jar, from white to deep orange, he was the most pleased.   Mark told me about his plainware work:

“My first plainware pieces were done years ago. I was sure that these would be well received and gallery owner Charles King took a chance with them. They were an immediate hit!  I don’t do very much plainware for it has to be flawless.  The surface has to be free of all dips or air holes and the shape has to be elegant on its own, as there is no design to distract the eye.  The colors achieved on the pots are truly amazing.  Each piece is fired outdoors using sheep dung and coals.  I love it!”

The jar is signed on the bottom “Mark Tahbo” and a pipe for his “Tobacco Clan”.  It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  Definitely a classic of his pottery!

$ 2,800.00
Tahbo, Mark  – Lidded Jar with Women and Parrot Men (2001)

Mark Tahbo was renown for his creative pottery shapes, designs, and firings.  He learned to make pottery from his great-grandmother, Grace Chapella.  Each piece reflects the symmetry and thin walls of an excellent potter. The designs are painted using native clay slips and bee-weed (a plant) for the black.  This jar has a refined form with a wide shoulder and slight neck.  Mark hated to make lids for his pottery and made very few.  This is one of the best constructed lids I have seen of his with the clay used to keep it secure on the neck.  While the shape and lid are visually interesting, it’s the design which is the center of this vessel.  The imagery is a series of Hopi-Tewa women and Parrot men.  The women are holding gourds for water while the Parrot men are holding corn pollen.  The idea of the Parrot men was partially inspired by the figures in the Awatovi murals.  However, Mark would often innovate his own creative designs for his pottery.  He said of this:

“For traditional Hopi-Tewa pottery, there are no shortcuts. I feel that the younger people, they aren’t as fortunate as I was. I was born at a time where I was with the elder women who revived Hopi-Tewa pottery and brought it to this level. I learned the old style. From how to get the clay, how to process it, from start to finish. Today, it seems like the storytelling is almost gone. I always tell younger potters that it’s one of the most important foundations we can have as Hopi-Tewa potters. A story. Something to lean back on. If you don’t have that root or that foundation, you have nothing. You are just floating on your own. Soak it all in and listen to all the old stories that you can. There are just no shortcuts. You have to learn the hard way and have patience.” Mark Tahbo, Spoken Through Clay

The eight figures encircle the jar.  They are painted with additional clay slips to give them color and note the little area when he etched designs on the gourds or the hair!  On the bottom of the jar are swirls parrots or birds.  It is almost as if they are the shadow of the figures dancing above.  The jar was traditionally fired which created the blushes on the surface.  It is signed on the bottom, “Mark Tahbo”.  There is a pipe to represent the Tobacco Clan.  It is in excellent good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 1,850.00
Tahbo, Mark  – Wide Bowl with Hummingird Design (1998)

Mark Tahbo was renown for his creative pottery shapes, designs, and firings.  He learned to make pottery from his great-grandmother, Grace Chapella.  Each piece reflects the symmetry and thin walls of an excellent potter. The designs are painted using native clay slips and bee-weed (a plant) for the black.  This bowl is wide with a flat top.  Mark would work hard to create this form inspired by the ancient Sikyatki pottery.  I remember when Mark originally made this piece and he said that it wasn’t the classic eagle tail design.  It’s hummingbirds!  The tail feathers are extending down and on the sides with the points are the hummingbirds.  Mark would often innovate his own creative designs for his pottery.  He said of this:

“There is so much in this pottery career that you have to go through. So many different stages. You are constantly learning. I finally came to this point in my life that when I choose a design it has to have a meaning or a story to connect all together. Today on some of my pieces I might even make the story up myself in order to create a new tale of my own.” Mark Tahbo, Spoken Through Clay

The placement of the imagery on this bowl looks classic, but it actually gives the piece a very modern appearance.  The bowl was traditionally fired which created the blushes on the surface.  It is signed on the bottom, “Mark Tahbo”.  There is a pipe to represent the Tobacco Clan.  It is in excellent good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.

$ 1,400.00
Tahbo, Mark  – 16″ Wide Eagle Tail Shoulder Jar (1999)

This is a striking very large wide shoulder jar by Mark Tahbo.  The jar is a classic Hopi or Sikytaki shape, with the wide shoulder and a slight neck. The neck is just slightly turned out, which for Mark, it was the little details in his pottery which were important to him.  The shoulder of the jar is painted with an intricate eagle tail design.  Mark would often try and stylize patterns so that they were not just a repetition of previous work.  Here, the tail feathers can be seen in the center of the design, and then the wings extruding outward and mottled.  The jar was painted with bee-weed (black) and then clay slips.  Note that he used a deep red clay, but also a mauve clay slip in the center areas.  It was only around 1998-9 that he began to use the mauve clay, which he found near Hopi.  It was difficult to use and he didn’t have much, so he used it as an accent in his designs.  The jar is traditionally fired and the blushes are simply amazing!  The color variations range from white to orange almost red!  Mark worked diligently to create blushes on the surface of the pottery so that they would almost function as another design element!  The jar is signed on the bottom, “Mark Tahbo” and dated ’99.  The jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. The owners of the jar acquired it directly from Mark. Finding pieces of his this size, design and coloration is a great testament to his skill as a potter and painter!

$ 5,000.00
Tahbo, Mark  – Large Jar with 16 Kastsina Masks (1998)

This is an exceptional large jar by Mark Tahbo. It came from a collector who purchased it directly from Mark. It looked very familiar and when I went though some old photos, I realized I had been at Hopi the day it was fired!  Mark had been firing pieces for Santa Fe Indian Market in1998 and asked me to come up and photograph some of the firings.  At the end of the photos are some photos of this being taken out of the firing! What an amazing coincedence!  It’s no surprise that this jar is thin walled and a great shape.  The entire surface is fully polished. The jar was made in 1998 and it was one of the first times he had deviated from more classic Sikyati designs of Nampeyo and his great-grandmother Grace Chapella.  Here each of the figures around the shoulder has a different katsina mask including the grandmother katsina, hornet, cloud, star, and others.  Note how the mask of each one is different and painted with both red, white and mauve clay slips!  The band closer to the neck has star, bird, corn, raincloud, butterfly and flower patterns.  Again, they are painted with the various clay slips!  The complexity in design and the variations in color are certainly a hallmark of this period of his pottery. The jar was traditionally fired and there are great blushes on the surface. Mark fired his pottery outdoors using sheep dung and the smoke created the intense colorations.  He was always fascinated with the blushes in the clay and worked hard to give his pottery a rich appearance. This jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  It is signed and dated on the bottom. 

$ 3,000.00
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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
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