Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Plate with Bear and Bear Paw
This is a striking polychrome plate 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 is fully polished white on the front with a deep red polished rim. The center of the plate has a white polished oval with an incised bear. The bear is slipped red and there is an inset piece of high-grade Lone Mountain turquoise. Russell incised a a plant above the bear and a bear paw below. There is a band of turquoise hei-shi and a band of shell hei-shi. The designs are inspired by the San Ildefonso polychrome open bowls from the 1890s. All the colors are derived from natural clays and inspired by historic San Ildefonso polychrome pottery (black/red/white), using many of the same clays! The colorations of black, red, and white are all seen in San Ildefonso pottery from the 1880s to about 1920. His deep red clay is another recent addition to his clay art starting around 2005. 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 bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Russell”. It is exciting to see how this imagery is not new but Russell’s reinterpretation of it both modernizes and revives.