A Labor of Love on this Labor Day

- September 6, 2011

"There is much more diversity at this market than I remember from the past"

From  Acoma to Zuni they came to Tewa – as artists and craftspeople from many of New Mexico’s Pueblos came to the pueblo just below La Bajada, formerly known as Santo Domingo, to its version of Indian Market, formerly known as the Santo Domingo Art & Crafts Fair. It’s like Prince changing his name to “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” in order to rebrand himself and retain control of his artistic output.

Well Tewa has done quite well as “The Pueblo Formerly Known as Santo Domingo”. There is much more diversity at this market than I remember from the past. Tewa now shares its healthy Labor Day Weekend crowd with many of its neighboring pueblos. And, the weather cooperated – with cool, slightly-cloudy skies and an occasional light sprinkle to keep the dust down in the pueblo’s ancient plaza.

We saw award-winning Tewa potter Thomas Tenorio, again with an almost empty booth with 24 hours still to go. Thomas’ polychrome works have always attracted me and are on my list of items to add to our already growing collection of Acoma, Santa Clara and Jemez pottery. Then there was the beadwork necklace by Dineh artist Dennison Billy from Chambers, Arizona which depicted, in miniature, a traditional Navajo Two Grey Hills rug design in delicate beadwork.

Miss Thea was treated to a long explanation of Laguna potter Max Early’s inspiration, designs and technique, while I wandered off to listen to some contemporary native musicians at the open mike. I returned just in the nick of time to find Thea standing close to the jewelry booth of Donna and Joseph Nieto, admiring their reversible necklaces of inlaid mother of pearl, turquoise and coral. I have this ongoing problem of Thea finding something she loves and acting upon it before I get to register it in my head as a possible future purchase as a surprise.

For me, the only thing missing was a selection of drum craftsmen. For those who know me, the self-absorption is quite obvious, but Tewa, as well as Jemez, has always produced wonderful drums and I had expected to see them present at this gathering.  Miss Thea and I did get to hear them in two dances – a Buffalo Dance by four dancers and two singer/drummers from Tewa and a Zuni Dear Dance. The Zuni ensemble had five dancers, three young women and two dear dancers; one of which could not have been more than six -or seven-years-old. This young boy had an extraordinary presence in his personage as the spirit of this animal, so highly regarded in the pueblo world. His every movement was carefully timed to the music and closely mirrored the work of the other Deer Dancer, more than three or four times his age.

As we began to leave, the Railrunner passed on its way up to Santa Fe through the wonderful countryside that would take it up Waldo Canyon and then down the middle of the interstate from La Bajada Hill. Having seen a train go south hours earlier, I realized we could have taken the train down to Tewa’s recently-opened station to enjoy the Indian market. There is always next year!