Native Treasures Announces 2014 Award Recipients

Staff | - January 9, 2014

Joe and Althea Cajero named Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) Living Treasures for 2014

Native Treasures: Indian Arts Festival is pleased to announce accomplished artists Joe and Althea Cajero as the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) Living Treasures for 2014. This is the first time in the 10-year history of the show that the award that it has been given jointly to two artists. The MIAC Living Treasure award is given in recognition of artistic excellence and community service. 

Renowned bronze and clay sculptor Joe Cajero is from Jemez Pueblo, and jeweler Althea Cajero is from Kewa (formerly Santo Domingo) and Acoma Pueblos. It is rare that a married couple share studio space, and even rarer that they together receive such a distinguished award. The couple married eight years ago, and reside in Placitas, N.M.

“The feeling is overwhelming gratitude that both of us are being recognized with the MIAC Living Treasure award at the same time,” says Joe Cajero. “We feel very humbled.

“To be in a relationship, share studio space, and watch each other grow is magical,” Joe continued. “You can see influences in each other’s work that guide your own creativity, from the beginning and through the whole process. I watch Althea’s pieces unfold, and see how we enhance and advance each other’s work through sharing. We are very open about our process of creativity.”

Joe Cajero has been creating clay originals in traditional Jemez clay and limited-edition bronze sculptures, including a few monumental commissions, for decades. His works are highly sought after by collectors. Althea Cajero began her art career more recently. In her jewelry designs, she integrates cuttlefish-bone castings with beautiful turquoise, jasper, agate, coral, natural shells, pearls, gold and silver.

Although the Cajeros daily give each other inspiration and feedback, they had never jointly designed anything before creating the Dragonfly bracelet specifically for Native Treasures. The piece is a silver, cuttlefish-cast cuff bracelet fashioned by Althea with a sculpted silver dragonfly by Joe.  

Both Joe and Althea come from artistic families.  Joe was raised by a painter father and potter mother revered in the Native art community. He attended the Institute for American Indian Arts, and was awarded a top prize at Santa Fe Indian Market when he was only 16. Althea’s parents were both well-known and respected Native jewelers.

“We are delighted to be recognizing both Joe and Althea with the MIAC Living Treasure award this year,” says Karen Freeman, Co-Chairman of Native Treasures. “Their work is outstanding, and they have given generously of their time and talent to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.”

Native Treasures: Indian Arts Festival benefits the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe, and has become one of the most important Indian art shows in the U.S. More than 200 museum-quality artists from over 40 tribes and Pueblos will showcase and sell their pottery, jewelry, glass, paintings, sculpture, carvings, textiles, and other art on Saturday and Sunday, May 24–25, 2014, at the Santa Fe Convention Center. The Cajeros will be honored at the Preview Party at 5:30–7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 23, also at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

For this 10th anniversary of the Living Treasure Award, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture will honor every artist who has won the award. These artists are some of the biggest names in the Native American art world, and include: Robert Tenorio, Mike Bird-Romero, Connie Tsosie Gaussoin, Upton Ethelbah, Jr., Lonnie Vigil, Roxanne Swentzell, Tony Abeyta, Tammy Garcia, and the 2014 recipients, Joe and Althea Cajero.