Sanchez, Russell – Grizzly Bear with Turned Head and Heartline
This is a classic bear by Russell Sanchez. He continues to use traditional techniques and materials to create his stunning works in clay. This bear is highly polished and fired to a deep black, almost gunmetal coloration. The bear is coil built so it is hollow on the inside. The back is fully polished and etched with designs before it is fired. It is one of the few larger bears we have had with a turned head! Russell calls this style of bear with the pointed ridge on the back his grizzly bears. There is a heartline etched into the clay. There are four inset rows of turquoise hei-hsi beads. Note as well the angular beveled design on the legs, which is something new he has added to his bear style which is reminiscent of the angles of the heartline. The bear is signed on two of the feet. 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
This bear is a stunning example of how the history and culture of San Ildefonso Pueblo are modernized in concept in his hands. Congrats to Russell for winning “Best of Pottery” at both the 2019 Santa Fe Indian Market and the 2020 Heard Indian Market!