Julian Martinez is noted as one of the San Ildefonso Pueblo self-taught artists along with Awa Tsireh, Tonita Peña, and Crescencio Martinez. In fact, we included one of his paintings alongside works by Awa Tsireh and Tonita Peña in our current Santa Fe Indian School Style exhibit and, like Awa Tsireh, comparable works can be found in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Julian worked as an assistant to Edgar Lee Hewett on archaeological digs for the Laboratory of Anthropology. On one of these digs, Ancestral Puebloan pottery sherds of black pottery decorated with black paintings were unearthed, and Julian's wife, Maria, was tasked with recreating the process. Maria and Julian had been collaborating on polychrome pottery for some time. However, once they had perfected the black-on-black process (glossy black paint or slip against a matte black background with a high sheen), the pair became renowned for their unique pottery. Maria would make and polish the pots while Julian would paint and assist with the very complicated oxygen reduction firing process.
Thanks in large part to the Millicent Rogers Museum's founder, Paul Peralta-Ramos, we have one of the largest and most extensive collections of Maria and Julian Martinez pottery. Visitors to our Maria Gallery are greeted by a beautiful bronze portrait of the famous potter by Star York. The gallery includes ceramic works produced throughout the potter's lifetime, photographs with U.S. Presidents, memorabilia from when she attended World's Fairs, and dioramas of her firing process. We also have an in-depth digital learning website where you can learn more about her process and even design your own pot!
The piece that will be included in our Turquoise Gala is a medium-sized black-on-black vessel that features an Avanyu (water serpent) surrounding the rim. This pot has been stone polished to a high gunmetal sheen that gives the piece a glassy appearance and has the artist's signature "Marie" on the bottom. Although we would certainly love to add this work to our collection, it was donated for use in our live auction, which provides essential funds for a variety of programs and projects at the museum. If you would like to attend the gala, you can purchase tickets here. If you are unable to attend but would like to arrange a bid by proxy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (575) 758-2462, ext. 205.