Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Jar with Skunk and Cougar
This is a striking polychrome jar by Russell Sanchez. He continues to be one of the true innovators and revivalists in Pueblo pottery. Each piece is perfectly coil built, stone polished and etched. This jar has a shape inspired by the work of Florentino and Martina Montoya. Note the rounded upper shoulder which then flares out to the rim. It is this rounded neck which you see revived on this jar (see last photo). The rim is polished a deep black, as is the base. The vase is also carved with an indented gourd design. The shoulder is polished with a deep red clay. The designs are etched into the clay before the jar is fired. There is a skunk on one side and a cougar on the other. Separating them are plants and prayer feathers. Russell has used the two-dimensional style of painting seen in the work of San Ildefonso painters from the 1920’s. Note the painted hatchwork designs on top of the neck and the base. Again, these are a tribute to the work of Florentino who would often use hatchmarks or lines in his pottery designs. The colorations of black, red and white are all seen in San Ildefonso pottery from the 1880s to about 1920 (and again, see the last photo). His deep red clay is another recent addition to his clay art. There are three bands of jet hei-shi beads and jet was also used for the eyes of the skunk and cougar. 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.” The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay. It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives. The last photo is a polychrome jar by Florentino and Martina Montoya as a reference for the historic polychrome coloration.