Sanchez, Russell – Black Bear with 130 Stone and Coral Heartline
This is a striking black-fired bear by Russell Sanchez. He continues to be one of the true innovators in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil-built, stone polished, and etched. Did you know that Russell makes his bears as if they were a bowl and they are hollow on the inside? The bear is fully stone polished. The area on the legs is matte. There are 22 turquoise stones set on each side surrounding the legs. He created a coral heartline that extends from the mouth to the back using 41 tiny coral stones on each side. Together, there are 128 tiny stones inset on the sides of the bear. There are two more stones for the eyes! On the back are larger pieces of Spiderweb Kingman turquoise. Across the back are two rows of turquoise hei-shi beads that are separated by three rows of hematite hei-shi beads! WOW! There is a jewel-like quality to the way he inset all the stones. A well, the bear was fired before all the stones were inset and it has a silvery-black coloration. The bear is signed on the rear feet, “Russell”. As Russell continues to innovate from historic designs, he says, “Tradition means moving forward and adding to it. You keep moving forward. If we stayed stagnant we would no longer exist.” It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives the clay.
As Russell has said:
“I’m a traditionalist all the way through. Innovation is part of our tradition. You use the same materials and tools that you have, and the same design elements, and the Clay Mother will come through you for what she wants you to do,” he explains. “Instead of doing the same cloud pattern or serpent pattern, you take that and make it your own. So, in fact, everything I’m doing is old, but new.” Russell Sanchez, Southwest Art Magazine