The Royal Bloodline Of Tammy Garcia

Tammy Garcia is a renowned clay and bronze artist from Santa Clara Pueblo who hails from a bloodline of sensational potters. The spectacular legacy of artists includes Sister Autumn-Borts Medlock, Mother Linda Cain, Grandmother Mary Cain, Great-Grandmother Christina Naranjo, and Great-Great Grandmother Sara Fina Tofoya. At the ripe young age of sixteen, Tammy began her career making pottery and has continued her grand success for over thirty years. The artist gratefully acknowledges the fantastic history of her family and the beauty of the art form that has been passed down for so many generations. Tammy reflects, "I think it was an incredible opportunity to be born into a family of potters that goes thousands of years back. I've been asked is it in the blood, or is it this talent that you have to work for? I feel that it's both. You definitely are born with certain DNA and talents are passed on." Tammy's childhood spent surrounded by potters certainly played a role in shaping the artist. 

 Tammy posing with  "When The West Was One"  in front of a kiln.

Tammy posing with "When The West Was One" in front of a kiln.

Pottery was a part of Tammy's daily life growing up. The entire process was woven into the chores she completed as a child. Along with sister Autumn, the girls would help dig the clay from the hills of Santa Clara Pueblo and participate in the mixing process. The two would clean the fire pit after a piece has been fired. The girls not only learned from participating, but from observing and learning from her elders. Tammy recalls, "It was a part of family life, a part of everyday life. You learn so much by observing without even realizing that you’re learning, that it’s happening. But now I can see how fortunate I was to have this special training. I’m asked about my college training, and what my degree is in. To have my mother and my grandmother as my teachers, you know one on one is priceless. You can’t get that in a university or college." Growing up in a home with her mother making pottery had a huge impact on Tammy. 

 Tammy credits her mother, Linda Cain, as one of her teachers. 

Tammy credits her mother, Linda Cain, as one of her teachers. 

It was not only through pottery related chores and observation that Tammy and her sister Autumn came to appreciate the art form. Growing up in Santa Clara Pueblo, the sisters were surrounded by phenomenal potters. Tammy recalls one of the first paid jobs the girls did was for a renowned potter named Grace Medicine Flower. At around nine years old the girls were tasked with cleaning the woman's house. "We would go to Aunt Grace’s and we would be vacuuming and dusting next to a cabinet full of Joseph LoneWolf's pots, of Grace’s, and of Sara Fina’s. Grace’s house was like a museum and she trusted us young girls to be in her home cleaning. So we learned how to behave around the art. Pottery is fragile and you have to understand that. You certainly have to know your manners," says Tammy. Autumn and Tammy have carried these childhood memories with them into their careers. 

 Sisters  Tammy Garcia  and  Autumn Borts-Medlock  posing with their bronze pieces "When The West Was One" and "Stellar's Day."

Sisters Tammy Garcia and Autumn Borts-Medlock posing with their bronze pieces "When The West Was One" and "Stellar's Day."

Tammy wasn't always so keen to partake in the family legacy. In fact, at sixteen she wanted to do absolutely anything else and took a little break from clay work. After a brief stint in beauty school and a week working as a dishwasher, the teen felt that she should give pottery another try. Tammy explains, "It was after this when I looked at pottery a little more seriously and I’ve stayed with it ever since. I think it’s having teachers like my grandmother and my mother, who persevered and were able to support their families through pottery that I knew I had a chance as well." Tammy recalls, "In the beginning I wasn’t very good. I did have pieces break. You can spend months and months on a piece and it could break. It’s hand built. It’s not a machine made product. Being that it’s handmade and being how I was early in my career, I was still learning. I needed those pots to break to challenge me." Although it seemed a challenging form to master, Tammy has been making pottery ever since.

  Tammy Garcia  showcasing a pot in the coiling stage. 

Tammy Garcia showcasing a pot in the coiling stage. 

The fragile nature of pottery is something that Tammy taught her own daughters about as well. The mother of three remembers giving her eldest daughter, Leah, a cracked piece to work on when she was a young girl. At one point, Leah became frustrated while working on the vessel and threw it to the ground where it shattered into several pieces. She looked at the clay in shock at how easily it had broken and began to cry. Tammy reflects on that moment, saying, "After that point she was very careful with how she would carry it. With so much more respect that she had learned. I think you can teach so much more by experience. You know, it breaking wasn’t the end. You have to be able to know you can fix it and make it better. I think you have to be that open-minded. Especially working in clay because it does break. You have to learn how to be devastated and get over devastation. In the early years, a lot of my pots broke. I was in the learning the process. There’s risk involved. It's important to remember it’s a handmade piece." This is an important aspect of clay that requires patience and understanding.

 A bronze creation of Tammy's modeled after her eldest daughter and titled,  "Leah."

A bronze creation of Tammy's modeled after her eldest daughter and titled, "Leah."

Tammy's positive attitude toward the fragile nature of clay stems from her upbringing. Tammy reflects, "When anyone would fire a piece we would usually all come together. Sometimes there might be an aunt, an uncle, a grandma. But it was a group effort because the creator needed help. If you were there the day helping out firing and a piece broke, sometimes you would be fortunate enough that someone older might say here, you can have it. You could glue the piece in. My first pieces were broken pots that were glued. Which I cherished just as much." The attitude of Tammy's relatives left a long lasting effect on the artist. Tammy continues, "Grandma Mary would say if a pot broke during the firing, that maybe my Great-Grandma Christina wanted it. She must have liked it so much that she wanted it for herself. She took it’s spirit back with her to the grave. This is how I learned how to overcome and deal with failure. When a piece would break, everyone from the family would pitch in advice. You know, try this and try that."

Growing up in a nurturing environment that celebrated both successes and failures helped Tammy become the artist she is today. "Now I’m at a point where I could work blindfolded. So much is in the feel of the clay. Now I can definitely say that yes, I had a very rare opportunity to have grown up in the pueblo with my mom who made pottery in the home. The rest of the family who also created pottery. Being able to teach my girls. I tell my girls that they are lucky to be born with a royal bloodline. To have this clay as our heritage... It’s damn special," Tammy says proudly. The legacy of this fantastic bloodline is truly remarkable.

 Join us for the  Three Generations Show

Join us for the Three Generations Show

If you'd like to meet Tammy and her family, please consider joining Gallery Chaco for a show celebrating their lineage. The event description and info can be found below.

Join Gallery Chaco as three generations of immensely talented clay and bronze artists showcase their artistic legacy. Mother Linda Cain, daughters Autumn Borts-Medlock and Tammy Garcia, and Autumn’s daughter, Rochelle Medlock exemplify the powerful traditions of their lineage. The family has a strong connection to the clay, as renowned Tewa potters Mary Cain, Christina Naranjo, and Sara Fina Tafoya came before them. Come and witness these brilliant women whose artistic legacy reaches back more than seven generations.

The Artist Process

The Artist Process hosted by Gallery Chaco proved to be a spirited weekend full of friendship, light, and laughter. Seven tremendous artists showcased the intimate work they put into their creations. Karen Clarkson drew a portrait, Tammy Garcia painted, Ira Lujan hand blew glass, Rhett Lynch and Mateo Romero painted, Penny Singer created Native inspired garments, and Adrian Wall sculpted.

  Tammy Garcia,   Rhett Lynch,  and  Penny Singer  at the reception. 

Tammy Garcia, Rhett Lynch, and Penny Singer at the reception. 

The reception on Friday night was a great opportunity for the artists to socialize before they were focused on creating the following day. That being said, all of the action happened on Saturday. See pictures of the artists working and read more below!

  Karen Clarkson  drawing a portrait of Night Zamora.

Karen Clarkson drawing a portrait of Night Zamora.

Karen Clarkson is a self taught Choctaw artist who works in a wide range of mediums. Gallery Chaco has a diverse mixture of her work, varying from painted leather canvases to adorned buffalo skulls. Karen's art communicates the spiritual nature of her Native roots and pays homage to the sacred aspects of her lineage. Her portraits specifically capture the beautiful energy of her Native subjects. During the show, Karen drew a portrait of a stunning Indigenous woman named Night Zamora. Karen's gentle pencil strokes and immense attention to detail made for an engrossing experience for onlookers.

  Tammy Garcia  working on the beginning stages of a painting.

Tammy Garcia working on the beginning stages of a painting.

After about thirty years working with clay and twenty years creating bronzes, Tammy Garcia has recently started painting. At the beginning of this year the Santa Clara Pueblo artist dove into the new medium without hesitation. While Tammy has only completed a handful of paintings thus far, her work is both impeccable and distinctive. Inspired by her clay and bronze designs, the artist creates pieces with fantastic pottery imagery. At the show Tammy completed a black and white oil piece with the grace of a seasoned painter. 

  Ira Lujan  blowing glass outside of Gallery Chaco.

Ira Lujan blowing glass outside of Gallery Chaco.

When he's not in his studio outside of Santa Fe, Ira Lujan is blowing glass elsewhere with the use of his mobile unit. After receiving a fellowship award from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, Ira built this travel unit to promote the art of glass blowing and to share his artistic process with others. Hailing from Taos/Onkay Owingeh Pueblo, the artist incorporates native themes and influences along with ancient techniques to form his glass blown creations. This weekend Ira showcased his talent on the street outside of Gallery Chaco, where he created a glass horn for a collaborative piece with Adrian Wall and Mateo Romero.

  Rhett Lynch  working on a painting in his studio.

Rhett Lynch working on a painting in his studio.

Rhett Lynch didn't have much to set up for this show, as his studio is located within Gallery Chaco. The lively and colorful piece shown above is sitting on the artist's painting table. With over ten years of love, the table is covered in paint from many different projects. Rhett is known for his intense use of color, which is interwoven with multifaceted intent. The artist demonstrated a technique on the day of the show using a small piece of cardboard to lay turquoise paint over the yellow paint in a way that creates a unique blending of the two.

  Mateo Romero  painting a collaborative sculpture created by Adrian Wall.

Mateo Romero painting a collaborative sculpture created by Adrian Wall.

Mateo Romero is a contemporary Pueblo painter with roots connecting to the Southern Keresan Cochiti people. Mateo’s paintings reflect a pattern of evolution and change. The images are powerful and imposing, juxtaposed with swirling gestural paint marks and drips. The artist most often creates acrylic and oil paintings with timeless, archaic elements of Pueblo culture that are juxtaposed with contemporary abstract expressionist palette knife and brush work. After completing some small landscape pieces at the show, Mateo painted a sculpture for a collaborative project with Adrian Wall and Ira Lujan.

  Penny Singer  working on appliques for jewelry bags.

Penny Singer working on appliques for jewelry bags.

Penny Singer is a Diné clothing designer who has created a collection of unique handmade clothing and accessories that embraces the Native American Spirit. Penny acknowledges that she is an artist, as she sees the fabric that she uses as a canvas, the thread as her color palette, and the sewing machine and needle as her brush. With supplies strewn across two tables at the event, the designer revealed just how much goes into designing a piece. With all of her colorful fabric and patterns scattered around her work space, it was easy to see that Penny has a passion for vibrant Native designs. 

  Adrian Wall  sculpting a piece for a collaboration with Ira Lujan and Mateo Romero.

Adrian Wall sculpting a piece for a collaboration with Ira Lujan and Mateo Romero.

Adrian is a renowned sculptor from Jemez Pueblo who has been working in the medium for over twenty years. The artist enjoys carving pieces that represent the mystical aspects of both his Indigenous heritage and of the Southwest. Adrian set up his sculpting work table outside of Gallery Chaco for the event. While working on the piece in the photo above, Adrian decided to make the final product a collaborative piece with Ira Lujan and Mateo Romero. Ira spent the day creating a glass horn that will adorn the male side of the sculpture while Mateo Romero painted the piece. Watch out for the finished sculpture on our Facebook page and website!

 A group photo of all seven artists in Hotel Chaco's serenity garden. From left to right:  Ira Lujan ,  Adrian Wall,   Rhett Lynch,   Penny Singer,   Tammy Garcia,   Karen Clarkson,  and  Mateo Romero.

A group photo of all seven artists in Hotel Chaco's serenity garden. From left to right: Ira Lujan, Adrian Wall, Rhett Lynch, Penny Singer, Tammy Garcia, Karen Clarkson, and Mateo Romero.

While a beautiful spring breeze blew through the gallery, there was a powerful energy that emulated from so many talented hands creating in the same space. As strong contributors and important voices in the Native community, the artists created an air of support and friendship for one another as they worked. The Artist Process was a beautiful event that celebrated the spirit of the artistic creation.

Artist Rhett Lynch On Creating Gallery Chaco

Rhett Lynch is a renowned Navajo artist who has worked with a wide variety of mediums and subject matter. For over forty years, Rhett has created art with deep multifaceted intent that holds powerful symbols of his Native heritage. From dog portraits to abstract paintings, Rhett Lynch is a truly diverse artist. Recently, Rhett has made a major transition from artist to gallery owner, curator, and artist. After being approached by Heritage Hotels to open an art gallery correlating with Hotel Chaco's vision of honoring Indigenous cultures, the artist began to consider the idea of opening Gallery Chaco.

  Rhett  stands with Thomas Ito, one of the lead Gensler architects that created  Hotel Chaco.

Rhett stands with Thomas Ito, one of the lead Gensler architects that created Hotel Chaco.

At first, Rhett wasn't too sure about the concept. "I fought the idea of opening the gallery. Synchronicity kept showing up. It was so noticeable that I felt like I needed to get out of the way and see what this was that seemed to be trying to create itself despite my apprehension about it," explains Rhett. The owner and curator felt like the gallery was fated to be. Any time he thought about backing out, something else just short of feeling miraculous would happen and he realized he couldn't deny that the universe was at work. Rhett explains, "I’ve learned through success and mishap when I don’t listen to my intuition things really kind of became more challenging, so I just kept going."

  Rhett  sitting on the rooftop at  Hotel Chaco.

Rhett sitting on the rooftop at Hotel Chaco.

Once the gallery had shifted from an idea to a reality, Rhett began selecting artists. He started with artists that were commissioned to help create Hotel Chaco. Having been an artist for the past four decades, Rhett knew many of these people already.  After approaching the commissioned artists, the search expanded to other Indigenous artists. Rhett explains his selection process, saying, "I wanted to find artists that were serious about their careers and serious about their message and what they were trying to do. People that I thought really have a voice that move Native, Indigenous work forward." There are currently sixteen outstanding Indigenous artists represented in Gallery Chaco, including Rhett Lynch himself.

 Where the gallery ends and the studio begins.

Where the gallery ends and the studio begins.

The transition for Rhett was never meant to be from artist to curator, but rather a combination of both. The artist decided to put his studio within the walls of Gallery Chaco. Over the years Rhett has had a variety of different studio spaces, but never in a public space like this. "It’s taking some getting used to, having my studio here. I’m just starting to paint here. I’m really just seeing and feeling out how it’s going to work. When I get here early in the morning and paint everything goes smoothly. I haven’t tried to work when they gallery is open yet. So we’ll see what that’s like," says Rhett. Bringing Gallery Chaco to life required a lot of the artist, who is just starting to paint again for the first time since the gallery came into fruition.

  Rhett  works on a painting in the studio.

Rhett works on a painting in the studio.

Rhett sees Gallery Chaco as an exciting edition to Albuquerque. "There's not a gallery like this here in our city," he says. With his primary background as an artist, Rhett chooses to focus more on the story telling aspect of the artwork than anything else. "This allows us to bring people the voices of the artists. We want people to become acquainted with them not just by coming in and looking at their artwork, but also meeting them and getting to know them as people," says Rhett. By focusing on the artists and their stories, Rhett believes that this brings a level of cultural richness to Albuquerque. "When people start to have an understanding of other cultures, pre-judgements start disappearing and you end up with a stronger community," he says.

  Rhett  stands with artist  Abraham Mojica.

Rhett stands with artist Abraham Mojica.

Being an indigenous fine art gallery provides a unique opportunity to represent different Native peoples and Indigenous work. Rhett recognizes that Indigenous peoples have a strong connection to their ancient cultures, which means their stories go back a very long time in a deep and meaningful way.  He explains, "Those stories work their way into the imagery of indigenous artists. It’s essentially visual record keeping. Even when you do something, for example when I do a painting that is completely abstract, it is still deeply rooted in who I am as a human being, but also that is shaped by my experience of being an indigenous person." There is a connection between the artists and their heritage that directly relates to these stories.

 Gallery Chaco's entrance inside Hotel Chaco.

Gallery Chaco's entrance inside Hotel Chaco.

Rhett believes that having the opportunity to relate these powerful stories to the public is vital to the preservation of Native cultures. He explains, "Telling these stories adds a richness to the layering of Indigenous history that I think is essential for any community to thrive. Diversity is paramount. When people are harmonious with diversity, and with nature, you have a thriving system. To be able to create that, to play a role in that, is really exciting." Gallery Chaco was built on a foundation of Indigenous cultural awareness, exploration, and story telling. 

  Click here  to redeem a special offer on Rhett Lynch's Chaco Turtle T-Shirts.

Click here to redeem a special offer on Rhett Lynch's Chaco Turtle T-Shirts.

Autumn And The Parrots

Autumn Borts-Medlock is a renowned clay and bronze artist from Santa Clara Pueblo. Autumn hails from a long line of spectacular potters including Sister Tammy Garcia, Mother Linda Cain, Grandmother Mary Cain and Great-Grandmother Christina Naranjo. "Growing up in Santa Clara Pueblo, in a family whose connection to the clay goes back generations, pottery has always been a part of my life. I was introduced to the art form as a child, making my first formal attempts at claywork under the guidance of my mother and grandmother," explains Autumn. The artist draws from the spiritual symbolism and nature-oriented design aesthetics of Native culture.

  Autumn Borts-Medlock  poses with mother Linda Cain and sister  Tammy Garcia.  Tintype by Will Wilson.

Autumn Borts-Medlock poses with mother Linda Cain and sister Tammy Garcia. Tintype by Will Wilson.

Autumn's spectacular series of parrot-shaped forms have become a signature piece of her pottery and bronze work. The intricately designed parrot effigies are inspired by a fascination that was sparked as a young girl. Autumn reflects, "I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of the feathers adorning the regalia of the dancers at Santa Clara Pueblo. I used to wonder where we got these feathers because I’ve never seen a parrot in Santa Clara Pueblo." Intrigued, Autumn did some research and discovered that the birds were originally traded at Chaco Canyon by indigenous peoples from Mexico and South America. "These peoples would bring their parrots along the trade route to Chaco Canyon because they were just so extraordinary," says Autumn.

  Autumn  shows a parrot during the coiling stage.

Autumn shows a parrot during the coiling stage.

The artist became enchanted with the history of Chaco Canyon and the exchange of goods that played a role in shaping Native cultures. To the people of Santa Clara Pueblo, the colorful parrot feathers came to represent the rainbow. "The rainbow is a sign of rain. Rain was such a central part of life then because it brought water to the people and to the crops. So that’s how the feathers came to represent prosperity and fertility. They were used in fertility ceremonies as well just because it’s all along the cycle of water brings life," explains Autumn. After forming a deep connection to the legacy of the birds, Autumn began creating her magnificent parrot effigies.

Autumn explains the coiling process for creating her beautiful birds.

Autumn first began sculpting parrots after her mother, Linda Cain, worked with the shape.  "I just fell in love with the form after first working with it, so that’s why I continue to do them now," explains Autumn. Using traditional coiling techniques to create the shape of the bird, the artist then carves the designs on the birds free hand. Autumn begins drawing shapes onto the figure, deciding where she wants to put the eyes, the wings, and the intricate patterns that her parrots are known for. If she doesn't like a design at this stage, she can erase her work by wetting the clay and creating a fresh canvas. Once excited about the design, Autumn uses an exacto blade to cut around the perimeters of the pattern. Then she uses a variety of small screwdrivers and wood carving tools to carve everything, including the relief in the background. 

  Autumn  shows us a fully carved parrot and a parrot before the carving stage.

Autumn shows us a fully carved parrot and a parrot before the carving stage.

After the carving stage, Autumn either takes her bronze parrots to be cast at the foundry or  uses stones to polish her clay work. "Most potters from the northern pueblo, we use stones to polish our work. That’s what gets the shine on all this Native pottery you look at. It was painted and then burnished with the stone. It’s ridiculously time consuming. Now you can see how it could take a month to do the tiniest little piece," says Autumn. This is only a glimpse into the process of the parrots. A smaller piece, like the two shown above, take around three or four months to complete while a larger parrot can take anywhere from six months to a year to finish. The gentle and capable hands of Autumn Borts-Medlock produce works that reflect both her renowned lineage and strong connection to the parrots of Chaco Canyon.

Below are some of Autumn's gorgeous birds that are on display at Gallery Chaco.

 Autumn's bronze  Chaco parrot .

Autumn's bronze Chaco parrot.

 Autumn's bronze  Chaco parrot.

Autumn's bronze Chaco parrot.

 Autumn's clay  Anasazi parrot.

Autumn's clay Anasazi parrot.

 Autumn's clay  Anasazi parrot .

Autumn's clay Anasazi parrot.

 Autumn incorporates Native patterns and captures the sacred spirit of parrots with her edgy  t-shirt design.

Autumn incorporates Native patterns and captures the sacred spirit of parrots with her edgy t-shirt design.

Feeling The Love At Twelve Loves Exhibition

The Twelve Loves Exhibition hosted by Gallery Chaco turned out to be the greatest show yet! Featuring many fantastic artists, the show explored different facets of love through visual interpretations. Each artist created work relating to their views and understanding of what love is. The artists included Autumn Borts-Medlock, Althea Cajero, Joe Cajero, Tammy Garcia, Ira Lujan, Rhett Lynch, Patricia Michaels, Mateo Romero, Penny Singer, and Adrian Wall. Love was felt throughout the night as the artists, their families, close friends, and art enthusiasts alike came together.

  Adrian Wall  and his family proudly posing in front of his work.

Adrian Wall and his family proudly posing in front of his work.

Adrian Wall, a well-known sculptor and jeweler from Jemez Pueblo, poses with his love Shondinii and their three beautiful daughters Maria, Kiowa and Skye. The sensational limestone sculpture in this photo titled "Awake And Dreaming" truly showcases Adrian's talent working in stone. The eagle feather hanging above is carefully crafted out of glass. Combining his talent in glass and jewelry, Adrian also creates original earrings that are prominently known. Adrian Wall's many talents brings a unique variety of work to Gallery Chaco. 

  Ira Lujan  and his mom Jan look at each other lovingly.

Ira Lujan and his mom Jan look at each other lovingly.

Ira Lujan of Taos/Onkay Owingeh Pueblo is a talented glassblower who puts a contemporary spin on Native themes. Creating works from glass antlers to astoundingly crafted canteens, every piece is fashioned with impeccable attention to detail. Along with many family members, Ira's mother was present at the show. The pride was evident on Jan's face, as she celebrated her birthday at her son's show. The family celebrated at Hotel Chaco following the exhibition. 

 Designer  Penny Singer  and artist  Tammy Garcia.

Designer Penny Singer and artist Tammy Garcia.

Penny Singer and Tammy Garcia catch up at the show. Penny's garments are created with the Native American Spirit in mind. Some of her most recent work includes a fun line of bow ties that have a contemporary, fun flare that will brighten up any outfit. Tammy has recently started an exciting new chapter in her career by beginning to paint. Already a master of bronze and clay, this new medium provides new opportunities and a fresh creative space. Penny Singer and Tammy Garcia are just two of Gallery Chaco's artists who have been friends for years. The nurturing friendships between so many of the artists is just one of the many types of love felt at the show. 

  Mateo Romero  and wife Melissa pose affectionately.

Mateo Romero and wife Melissa pose affectionately.

Mateo Romero is a contemporary Pueblo painter and award-winning artist. Some distinctive themes of his paintings include landscapes and ceremony regalia. Mateo's wife, Melissa, has been his biggest supporter. The couple live in Pojoaque with their three beautiful children and continue to be active voices for Native Peoples. For the Twelve Loves Exhibition Mateo created the "Heartwork Series" of oil and clay heart paintings on canvas. 

  Althea Cajero  explains the process of cuttefish bone casting.

Althea Cajero explains the process of cuttefish bone casting.

Althea Cajero of Santo Domingo and Acoma Pueblos creates her stunning jewelry with cuttlefish bone casting, which creates the distinctive design that she is known for. Althea became a jeweler after meeting her husband, talented artist Joe Cajero. The two are a wonderful couple who support each other's art endeavors with love.

In the above photo, Althea explains her process for creating jewelry. This exhibition was a wonderful opportunity for artists to share their processes and people to learn more about the world of art. Gallery Chaco aims to put on art shows that make everyone feel welcome and encourage learning and growth about not only art, but Native cultures. The Twelve Loves Exhibition was a night full of laughter, friendship, learning, and love. Thank you to everyone who came and made the event such a success. We hope to see you at the next show!

Below are more pictures from the show.

  Patricia Michaels  showcasing her beautiful  hand crafted designs. 

Patricia Michaels showcasing her beautiful hand crafted designs. 

 Artist  Autumn Borts-Medlock  stands with her mother Linda Cain.

Artist Autumn Borts-Medlock stands with her mother Linda Cain.

 Artist  Joe Cajero  speaks with attendants of the show.

Artist Joe Cajero speaks with attendants of the show.

Preparing For Twelve Loves Exhibition

Gallery Chaco is preparing for its largest show yet! Twelve artists have poured their hearts into creating their own visual interpretations of love. Using different styles, mediums, and ideas, these talented individuals have dug deep to construct inspirational and absorbing pieces. From intoxicating to agonizing, every piece of art is deeply infused with intense emotion. For the first time in Gallery Chaco's history twelve artists will be present at a show. Never have so many talented faces been here at once. The artists include Autumn Borts-Medlock, Heidi Brandow, Althea Cajero, Joe Cajero, Tammy Garcia, Gregory Lomayesva, Michelle Lowden, Ira Lujan, Rhett Lynch, Patricia Michaels,  Mateo Romero, Penny Singer, and Adrian Wall with works by Abraham Mojica.

 Arranging Ira Lujan's  Heart Vessel Series

Arranging Ira Lujan's Heart Vessel Series

Ira Lujan of Taos/Onkay Owingeh Pueblo incorporates native themes and influences along with ancient techniques to form his glass blown creations. By incorporating everyday Pueblo utilitarian objects and scenes in contemporary Native America, Ira finds freedom of expression through his manipulation of the hot and malleable glass. Although this is a relatively new media to Pueblo people, he is determined to provide contemporary interpretations of traditionally based themes through his chosen medium of glass sculpture.

These hand-blown glass creations created for the show are impassioned pieces that have a subtle resemblance to an actual heart. The dark breaks on the surface echo the realistic elements of the anatomy. All three of the vessels have some sort of connection or break that represent the relationship of souls becoming intertwined. Ira has the unique role of being the only glass blower at Gallery Chaco.  

Penny Singer is a Diné clothing designer who has created a collection of unique handmade clothing and accessories that embraces the Native American Spirit. Penny feels that every time she is designing a new piece, she is reconnecting to her Native Diné roots. She sees the fabric that she uses as a canvas, the thread as her color palette, and the sewing machine and needle as her brush.

Penny is the newest designer at Gallery Chaco and brings a contemporary perspective to classic native themes. Fashioned in shades of red for the exhibition, Penny has created pottery inspired pieces. Red is both a bold wardrobe staple and complimentary to the Native designs that Penny has brought to life. Penny will not only be here to speak about her clothing, but will have models present to showcase how the pieces look and feel. 

 Carefully moving Joe Cajero's  "Holding Love"  clay original

Carefully moving Joe Cajero's "Holding Love" clay original

Joe Cajero, Jr. of Jemez Pueblo is a renowned bronze and clay sculptor who has been creating clay originals and limited edition bronze sculptures for more than 17 years now. Joe sees his creative energy as spiritual in nature and states that each of his sculptures invariably represents some aspect of praise and appreciation for life’s beauty.

The inspiration for the clay original shown above began with the belief that love grows like a flower. It must grow on its own and symbolically blossom. Love is also very fragile and must be handled carefully, much like a flower. The altar-like designs on the edges of the petals represent prayer and meditation. There are two shades of red found on the petals and the heart, which represent two energies coming together. 

 Hanging Rhett's own monotype,  The Magician And The Three Of Hearts

Hanging Rhett's own monotype, The Magician And The Three Of Hearts

Rhett Lynch, the curator of Gallery Chaco, has found expression across a wide variety of mediums. Although varying greatly in medium and subject matter, all of Rhett's work contains a common thread: intensity of color interwoven with multifaceted intent. Always seeking to expand his visual vocabulary, Rhett consistently experiments with various materials in order to bring more power, life, and intensity to his art. His work is a testament to the deeply powerful symbols found in the well of his Indigenous heritage.

This piece represents the struggles that comes along with deep emotion. While love and passion are spectacular parts of the human condition, they can also cause worry, confusion, and a slew of frightening emotions. The magician perfectly juggles the negative and the positive, which is not often easy for us mere mortals.

 

 Beginning to arrange the display tables for the  exhibition

Beginning to arrange the display tables for the exhibition

Receiving new works from artists always brightens up the the energy of the gallery. The art that these talented creators have poured their souls into for the exhibition are truly magnificent. On behalf of Gallery Chaco, we hope to see you there this Friday, February 2nd from 5-8 PM.

Native Fashion Designer Patricia Michaels Creates Wearable Art

Patricia Michaels is a Native fashion designer from Taos, New Mexico who is know for elegantly capturing the beauty of Native culture in her pieces. Pushing Native American designs in a new direction, she successfully combats stereotypes and creates fresh, contemporary pieces that invite the world to get a true sense of the modern-day Native. Patricia was the first Native American designer to compete on Project Runway in 2012. Bringing an understanding of Native American design and culture to the Emmy Nominated television show, Patricia earned the title of first runner up in season 11. From the New York City runway to prestigious museums, Patricia Michaels has represented her heritage with grace.

As one way of incorporating Native culture throughout the entirety of the experience, Hotel Chaco commissioned Patricia Michaels to design the signature uniforms for the staff. The chic uniform designs capture the essence of Patricia's purpose and vision as a Native designer. The valet shirts and guest services dresses feature a maze pattern that boldly encompasses the entirety of the garments. The maze design represents the journey that every person takes through life. There is no entrance or exit to the maze, but an end in the middle because it is at the center of ones being that the individual will find themselves. The black and white cocktail skirts wield a pattern inspired by the designs found at Chaco Canyon. The simpler uniforms were designed to be sleek and elegant. All of the Hotel Chaco designs created by Patricia Michaels communicate Native themes to out of town guests and New Mexico locals alike. 

 Hotel Chaco General Manager LIz Robinson and Patricia Michaels wearing Patricia's designs.   Purchase Patricia's Chaco Maze T-Shirts

Hotel Chaco General Manager LIz Robinson and Patricia Michaels wearing Patricia's designs.

Purchase Patricia's Chaco Maze T-Shirts

Gallery Chaco features the original works of Patricia Michaels. While Patricia does have some fabricated designs produced in larger quantities, one of her signature qualities as a designer is her use of natural materials. An important trademark of her designs is the rare textile techniques she uses. All of the fabrics created in her studio are either hand painted, dyed, printed or embellished. Since the materials are all hand manipulated in some form, the result is garments that are each unique and original. 

Patricia creates in her Taos, New Mexico studio and home. Hailing from Taos Pueblo, the designer finds comfort and inspiration in the beauty of her Native land. Every space in her studio functions as some part of the design process. From the reference books that line her shelves to the table of beads under her bedroom window, Patricia utilizes her entire home as a studio. The cherished elements of her Native life, including ceremonial blankets and traditional woven baskets, are found throughout her home and aid her in retaining Native culture in each handmade garment. 

Patricia knew she wanted to be a designer from a young age, creating her first garment in the second grade. As a young girl she would admire the beautiful models and designs in fashion magazines. It was her grandfather who taught her that the most beautiful part of life is the beauty in nature. Patricia is consistently inspired by elements of nature and incorporates these into many of her designs. Some reoccurring themes include eagle feathers, cloud patterns, and rain. Whether inspired by nature, Taos Pueblo ceremonies, or pottery patterns, each garment tells an important story. Patricia Michaels is an innovative artist who has revolutionized Native design. 

 

Gallery Chaco Features Artists From Top Ten Hotel

Gallery Chaco is nestled within the heart of the mystical and now renowned Hotel Chaco. The luxury hotel serves as an homage to the treasured historic site Chaco Canyon, which was a central hub for trade and an important piece of history for the ancient pueblo people of these lands. From the stacked stone in the lobby to the stone floors that run like riverbeds, each piece of the building has a specific purpose. 

Gallery Chaco serves as an essential piece of the experience. It is a vessel of preservation and education for indigenous fine art. The gallery is here to tell the stories of not only the artists, but their native cultures. Art is a vehicle of expression with the power to preserve human history and emotion. With a wealth of art to share, Gallery Chaco is the educator and storyteller of Hotel Chaco. 

Weaved within the fabric of the hotel is Native American art that reflects both the beauty and history of Chaco Canyon. The talented group of Native artists commissioned for the project created works that capture the essence of Chaco Canyon and its enchanting past. With artists from different pueblos and backgrounds, the art is as versatile as the Native groups that first came together at Chaco Canyon. 

At Hotel Chaco the art isn't just found on the walls; it is all around. The Chaco experience begins before setting foot in the building, as the grand front doors were designed by Gallery Chaco's own renowned potter and bronze artist Tammy Garcia. When first commissioned to design the front doors and lobby oculus of the hotel, Tammy said, "I was immediately taken aback because these two pieces alone are such important parts of a structure. This is where you enter. This is the first thing you see when you look up. I was definitely honored. I was thrilled by this opportunity. And yes, I was up for the challenge."

During the design process Tammy spent time researching the petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon. What eventually sparked inspiration for the front doors was the water serpent design. Hailing from Santa Clara Pueblo, the artist was already familiar with the iconic symbol. "Looking back at the petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon I saw that people from Chaco revered the serpent for what it resembled and the strength it had, since water is scarce in the Southwest. The water serpent came to resemble water so I thought it was important that they adorn the doors and are the first to greet people as they enter," said Tammy. 

Artist Tammy Garcia from Santa Clara Pueblo describes the inspiration behind the designs of the metal doors and glass ceiling oculus at Hotel Chaco in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

It was pueblo pottery that inspired the design for the lobby oculus. Tammy acknowledges the designs on pueblo pottery as a vital piece of Native culture because the designs tell the stories of the past. The pueblo peoples did not keep records on paper, but rather used the world around them to preserve their history. The symbols on pottery were one way these peoples kept knowledge with them and passed it down through the generations. One important reoccurring pottery symbol is the eagle. When asked about the final design Tammy said, "Immediately eagles came to mind. Eagles are a very important animal to the Natives of the Southwest because they represent strength and power. The eagle is one of the birds that can fly the highest and has the most reverence and respect from Native people. When I thought of the oculus I was thinking about when you look skyward and immediately eagles came into play. As you enter the hotel and the lobby, as you look up, you see the eagle."

 

 Paintings by  Rhett Lynch  located in the library at Hotel Chaco.

Paintings by Rhett Lynch located in the library at Hotel Chaco.

Tammy Garcia is one of the many talented Native artists that brought Hotel Chaco to life. Gallery Chaco represents a large number of these creators. Joe Cajero created the bronze sculpture titled "Oneness" found in the center of the lobby. Roxanne Swentzell created the clay man named "The Guardian" who watches over the front desk. Patricia Michaels designed the Chaco inspired employee uniforms. Ira Lujan created the hand blown glass antlers that form the chandelier in the hallway. He also created the glass totems in the library and adorned one of the guest floors. Rhett Lynch created the large paintings in the library titled, "I Am, I Am Here." Tammy Garcia's bronzes are located throughout the hotel. Gallery Chaco is exclusively representing Tammy's bronze works and paintings. Mateo Romero created paintings for one of the guest floors. All of these amazing Native artists are represented in Gallery Chaco. From these artist's contributions in the hotel to their works in the gallery, the Chaco art experience is truly breathtaking.