Sanchez, Russell – Polychrome Plate with Bear and Sun Designs
This is one of the few plates we have had 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. The plate is fully designed with a bear in the center above an old-style avanyu below. The bear has an inset piece of high-grade Kingman Turquoise in the center. Above the bear, there is an etched sun, rainbow, and clouds. It is a complex pattern and the composition seems to remind me of Russell’s grandfather Abel Sanchez, who was one of the great San Ildefonso painters in the 1920s. Note how the center is polished white and then etched and slipped with red and black clay for the coloration. It is a VERY time consuming to add the other clay slips to the incised areas and not have it touch the polished surface! Surrounding the inner band is a band of red and then the outer burnished black. There are two inset bands of hematite hei-shi beads encircling the red slipped section. 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 plate is signed on the back 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 clay.