Friday, November 20, 2009

The Wright Place at the Wright Time for Native Art

While living in New York City, I went to go see a lot of art. The downside: I always had to travel into the city on the weekend to see it, or--if I was lucky--the opening would be on a week night, and I could pop-in after work to partake of the fantastic creations in SoHo or Chelsea.

The best part of living in Albuquerque, besides the fact that I have my car, is that art galleries are little more than twenty minutes from my house. What's even better is that when art shows take place in Northeast Albuquerque, I'm even closer, and parking is ample! Friday was just such a night when I didn't have to drive too far to see top-notch, FABULOUS Native American art. I mean, it was practically in my own backyard, at Wright's Indian Art.

Wright's Indian Art has been in business for more than 100 years (102, to be exact!), and that says a lot about it's reputation and the quality of the artists the gallery is able to attract. Not only do they carry the works of tried and true artists, they also represent the best in young, up-and-coming talent (here comes the plug for a couple of friends) such as Kathleen Wall and Silvester Hustito, who just opened his own Santa Fe gallery. From gorgeous jewelry by the renowned Alex Sanchez and Tommy Jackson to pottery by Fannie Loretto, the Fragua family , paintings by Yellowman, and others, there is always something special to be found at Wright's Indian Art.

Speaking of special, Friday night's ArtsCrawl played host to a number of fantastic Native American artists, including Darryl and Ramey Growing Thunder (ledger art) to innovative and unique jewelry by Kee Yazzie, Jr. I'm always in awe of Native American craftspeople, and this event was no exception. It was a thrill to see famed Jemez potter Maxine Toya and her daughter Dominique Toya (Maxine, who I first met at 2009 Indian Market is a friend of my dear friend Cypriana). I have never met Dominique before, but this rising Indian Market star , who was featured in the August issue of Southwest Art, did a wonderful demo on how she creates her micaceous melon pots. It's always fun to learn about the process. Maxine showed a beautiful nativity set, which has yet to be fired and painted.

I am a jewelry fiend, and, of course, when I met Marian Denipah and Steve LaRance, I was in Heaven, because Marian's jewelry is some of the finest made and distinct that I have ever seen. Her unique abstract kachina-inspired rings mesmerized me, and I could little control myself from buying everything at their table. Of note was the matching necklace and ring that Marian had basically designed around the turquoise, whose shape resembled a cloud. Marian was more than happy to model her ring and necklace ensemble, in addition to two of her turquoise rings that caught my eye.

For the urban dweller (and I know the style-consciousness of the city fashionista!), I discovered these really cool "Cityscape" cuff bracelets by well-known designer Steve Yellowhorse. I have truly never seen anything like these before. This piece, sure to have people grabbing your wrist asking you "where'd you get that?" can be yours for only $1,800!

The evening would not be complete without meeting the seemingly soft-spoken and charming Hopi potter Preston Duwyenie. He and his wife Debra Duwyenie, who is of the Santa Clara Pueblo, are the duo behind some traditional and very cutting-edge Native American pottery. While Preston utilizes ancient potting techniques, he creates magical, contemporary pots that depict rain clouds filled with water and the gentle movement of sand as one would find in a desert dune. With his wife he collaborates on sgraffito pots, typical to Santa Clara. Preston builds the clay and Debra etches remarkable patterns that include delicate hummingbirds.

Wright's Indian Art is located on the corner of San Mateo and Lomas in Northeast Albuquerque. You can also visit them on the Web at


William F. Renzulli said...

You are the quintessential "child in a candy store". How great is that?!

Paul Niemi said...

I love it!