Indian Market Artist Kathleen Wall is #AWYou

Following in the footsteps of many talented female potters, Jemez Pueblo multimedia artist Kathleen Wall carries clay in her blood.

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“All of my mentors are women. They are all influential Pueblo potters,” says Wall at her bright, airy studio in the heart ofPueblo nestled along the Rio Grande Valley at the fertile foothills of the Jemez Mountains. At just a short jog outside the hustle and bustle of New Mexico’s biggest city, Jemez feels like a bucolic oasis of family, tradition, and history. “Inspiration is definitely my surroundings… The thing about the Pueblo potter is she’s resilient to rejection. She’s strong physically because making pottery in all aspects of it you have to be physically strong… You have to go market yourself and you have to have strength in order to survive off your artwork. I’ve had that inspiration from all my aunts and, also, other Pueblo potters.”

With two BFAs in 3D and 2D arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, an incubator for many a celebrated artist, Wall is a diverse and cutting edge artist. She began her career as a teenager creating the storyteller dolls traditional to her Pueblo, then she studied sculpture during her first foray at IAIA, and later focus for on painting while earning her second degree. A success story right out the gate, upon graduating with her first BFA Wall says she was delighted to be accepted at the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market. But that milestone was soon surpassed when to her astonishment she received her first blue ribbon.

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“I was taught to make storytellers as a young child,” she says. “My mother and all five of her siblings made storytellers and they taught their daughters and granddaughters how to make them. I made storytellers from about 15 until around 19 when I veered away from the storyteller and started going more sculptural. I do like to revisit the storyteller, but I do it in my variation.”

Since earning her first blue ribbon at the oldest and largest indigenous juried art show in the world, Wall has seen many more moments of success. Most recently one of her sculptures was accepted as the features artwork for the 2018 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, which has featured art by the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe. And of course with Indian Market just a few weeks away, Wall has been hard at work creating fresh, innovative pieces for her booth — #PAL222 on Palace Ave. Besides being a place to show and sell her at, Wall says to her and a lot of the other artists, market weekend is a creative reunion with friends and family from all over the world.

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“Mine is a story of family, of heritage. I’m working with a lot of names and how Native American names connect to the person and the culture,” she says. “Our names are so much a part of the culture that we celebrate. I’ll do a painting of a Native American name and do a portrait of the person in front of the painting and sort of merge them together.”


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Ungelbah Davila is American West Jewelry’s blogger, lifestyle photographer and social media contributor. She is Navajo of the ‘Áshįįhi Clan, as well as a native New Mexican of Spanish, Irish, and Sephardic ancestry. Her name, which in English means a woman who has been to war and lived to fight again, was passed to her from her maternal great-grandmother and is a source of personal power that influences the unique narrative she brings to her many art forms.

AWJ Guest Artist to Receive Governor’s Award

We are so excited for our dear friend and guest designer Jody Naranjo who is being recognized this September 2018 with a New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in Art.

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The Governor’s Award was established in 1974 by former New Mexico Governor Bruce King and former First Lady Alive King to celebrate the role that artists, craftspeople, and arts supporters play in the culture and economic life of the state.

This September 14, Jody will become one of these elite artists that include the likes of painter Tony Abeyta (2012 awardee) and Native American actor Wes Studi (2010).

Jody, who comes from a long line of Tewa potters and artists from Santa Clara Pueblo has been an artist since the age of 8. “She is not afraid to push beyond the conventional treatment of Tewa pottery. Her forays into bronze sculpture and glass have demonstrated her ability to challenge herself beyond the limitations and safety of one medium,” said owner of the Santa Fe Blue Rain Gallery Leroy Garcia on the Governor’s Award webpage. (See our blog on Jody’s story here: https://awblog.carolynpollack.com/2018/04/03/jody-naranjo-is-awyou/ )

We’ve been hip to Jody’s many talents for years and are proud to have her a part of our family of Native American guest designers. In fact, hot off the polishing wheel is a stunning cuff inspired by her iconic “critter” design that appears on her pottery. The cuff will debut on QVC in September!

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When we caught up with Jody, who is busy not only preparing to receive this prestigious award but for her booth #WAW402 at the Santa Fe Indian Market this is what she had to say.

American West Jewelry:  What does it mean to you to receive this amazing award at this time in your life and career?

Jody Naranjo: It is a huge honor! It’s definitely not something you think will happen to you. I’m just so fortunate that my little designs have made people happy!

AWJ:  Who are some of the women who have helped you become the person you are today?

JN: My family is about 80% women. Pottery and other art forms are very dominant in our culture and history. I grew up surrounded by these talented artists and couldn’t help but be inspired by them.

AWJ: For many young people out there in the creative world, the thought of being a working artist is a dream come true. What advice do you have for people, especially women, who are aspiring artists?

JN: I have 3 daughters and have always told them to pick a career that they will love. If you enjoy it you will never be bored or get tired of it. It’s a lot of work to be a full-time artist. Take advantage of all opportunities that come your way. Always keep challenging yourself to make new and evolving designs and try new mediums.

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Ungelbah Davila is American West Jewelry’s blogger, lifestyle photographer and social media contributor. She is Navajo of the ‘Áshįįhi Clan, as well as a native New Mexican of Spanish, Irish, and Sephardic ancestry. Her name, which in English means a woman who has been to war and lived to fight again, was passed to her from her maternal great-grandmother and is a source of personal power that influences the unique narrative she brings to her many art forms.

Make A Statement at Indian Market

Everything is bigger in Texas! If there’s one thing our neighbors to the east know how to do, it’s how to take every experience to the next level. Our friends at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center are living proof of this well known theory.

The 97th Annual Santa Fe Indian Market is right around the corner and we’re entrusting our amigos at the Gaylord to outfit you for this auspicious yearly event where artists and personalities from around the world come together to celebrate Indigenous art.

As with any good foundation, I always say, begin with your boots. Willow Creek is your headquarters for all things Western and wonderful. From stellar boots to killer accessories, Willow Creek has you covered, literally.

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Shop ‘till you drop and then enjoy a steak and a glass of wine to get energized to shop some more. The Old Hickory Steakhouse is our all time favorite spot to relax and enjoy some juicy, premium black angus beef cooked just the way you like it. Pair with a sample of artisan cheese and indulge in something from their Texas-inspired wine cellar. Go ahead, have one for us, too!

When you’re feeling revived, head over to our location in the Carolyn Pollack shop and enhance every outfit with the perfect collection of unique American West Jewelry, ethically handcrafted right here in New Mexico. Our charmed red coral necklace is even inspired by the magic of Santa Fe. And, you can never go wrong with a classic squash blossom necklace, especially when we’ve given it a mysterious twist in black onyx.

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After you’ve perfected you Indian Market look, don’t forget to take advantage of the exquisite Alamo inspired décor and lush atrium for your perfect selfie moment. Remember to tag #AWYou so we can see how you make American West your very own!

Happy shopping!

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Wearable Stories: Fritz Casuse Jewelry

American West guest jewelry designer Fritz Casuse is a storyteller who uses pieces of timeless, wearable art to bring to life the power and beauty of Navajo imagery.  An award-winning jeweler, Fritz creates fluid, dimensional works that mix elements of sculpture with traditional designs and Navajo mythology to create truly contemporary Native American jewelry.

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A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, Fritz has been making cutting edge jewelry for close to two decades. The movement and texture in each piece breathes life into the metal and stones in surprising ways that challenge the longstanding ideas of what Native American jewelry is, often putting fresh new spins on historic designs.

The naja design was first introduced to the Southwest as an adornment on Spanish bridles, and was soon adopted into Navajo silversmithing as a pendant. Fritz has taken this classic design and given it a modern twist as a statement ring. This sleek design then takes it a step further with an alluring sloped curve in the central design that feels as good as it looks.

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To walk in beauty is a fundamental part of Navajo philosophy. Of his take on his naja pendant and ring designs, Fritz says, “The crescent moon and stars is for a blessed journey throughout our lives, walking in beauty.”

The fluidity in his sterling silver Yeibichai Cuff is as dramatic as it is delicate, a fitting combination as it is a representation, he says, of male and female Yei (Gods) “living in unity, harmony, and beauty within and all around.” In mythology, red coral is associated with the feminine while turquoise is often associated with masculinity. Fritz also explains that his red coral pendant is a symbol of our inner strength, wisdom, prayers, and family.

The use of the dragonfly design in much of Fritz’s work is due to this vibrant little insect being considered a messenger for a beautiful life, as well as hope, happiness and the strength of togetherness. The abalone shell used in the wings is also symbolic in that many Navajo stories have strong connections between this shell and one of their primary deities, White Shell girl.

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Why Santa Fe is Bucket List Worthy

August is one of our favorite months because around here it means Indian Market time. For artists and collectors and spectators alike, Indian Market is the two days out of the year when you get to reconnect with old friends, see the incredible pieces of art they have been creating over the last 12 months, and be a part of the 100,000 travelers who converge on the city with one common love in their heart, Native American Art.

So, with the 97th Annual SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market just one month away, we thought we should list what we think are the most important reasons to love Santa Fe. This is among the most beautiful and artistic cities in the world and a destination for anyone interested in art, culture, history and exploration. Whether or not you plan to attend Indian Market, an incredible experience in its own right, a trip to Santa Fe should be a part of everyone’s bucket list. Here’s why.

You don’t have to be an artist to be inspired. Whether you are touring the historic plaza, wandering amongst the galleries on Canyon Road, or exploring a special event like Indian Market, the wealth of picturesque moments will capture your heart and open your imagination. Don’t be surprised to find yourself lost in the way the afternoon light plays against an adobe wall, enchanted by the colorful flair of Native American dancers, or carried away by the neon blaze of a sunset. You’ll find art living in everyone and realize it’s probably living in you, too.

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 Life tastes better here. The food of Santa Fe is almost as delightful as the view. Just the way flavors work together in a perfectly balanced meal, the excellent culinary world of Santa Fe helps form a rounded experience for any visitor’s senses. Try Café Pasqual’s where the organic ingredients and community table create a “just like momma made it” taste and feel for our unique New Mexico food. Or take advantage of the large variety of international cuisine to bite into authentic, mouthwatering African food at Jambo, or dine on the freshest sushi in the west in the Koyoto-styled ambiance of Kohnami. For a modern twist on the historic (something that happens a lot here), La Boca offers an incredible wine selection and Spanish tapas that are reminiscent of old world, if the old world gave out James Beard Awards.

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 History isn’t just living, it’s living on the edge. Everywhere you look history is alive and mixing and mingling with Santa Fe’s diverse and colorful residents, remaining in tact or being reimagined in more creative ways. For example, during the Santa Fe Fiestas, a celebration of Spanish conquest stretching back to the 1600s, you will also find a 50 feet high marionette called Zozobra who is burned in colorful effigy to rid spectators of their sorrows. Or, just as you can enjoy art and architecture dating back to the Anasazi, you can also find the surreal and psychedelic art installation Meow Wolf, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular art experiences in the world. And, just as the oldest house in America exists here, so does the ultra-modern Visual Arts Center designed by Mexico City architect Ricardo Legorreta.

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So, pack your bags, baby, Santa Fe is calling! And for more information in this year’s Indian Market, visit www.swaia.org.

American West, American Made: Happy 4th of July!

As our name suggests, we are proud as a peacock to be American! More so, it is with great pride that we can say every piece of American West Jewelry is made right here, in the USA. We believe in empowering our economy and our citizens as we hope to empower the women who wear our jewelry to pursue their wildest dreams. From our designs to our materials, our jewelry is deeply rooted in American tradition and culture.

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Even as we get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, our mind is always thinking forward to the next seven generations. We love our country and we love sharing her many beauties and styles with the world, while protecting her natural resources at every opportunity. For instance, we take measures to use only recycled metals that reduce the demand for mining.

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So from our American West family to yours, Happy Independence Day! We hope you take a moment today to think about how you help keep this country an awesome place to live, and pat yourself on the back for being a part of the our beautiful red, white and blue legacy. Remember to follow your spirit and chase your dreams and build more than you take down!

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Storyteller Tricia English is #AWYou

One of the many things New Mexico is rich in, is story. From ancient legends and creation stories, to pioneering westerns, to the unexpected ins and outs of modern daily life, behind every sage brush is a story waiting to be told and heard. Santa Fe-based UNUM Magazine creatrix and Editor-in-Chief Tricia English is on a mission to share as many of these stories as she can, specifically the ones starring a strong, female heroine. Now coming upon her 5th issue, Tricia has a global approach but strives to feature New Mexico women in as much as half of every issue.

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“UNUM Magazine grew out of my desire to create a platform that highlights diverse women and their stories. I think it really started with knowing that women need women. I truly believe that we can do really amazing things when we support one another, so I wanted to build a platform that does just that,” says Tricia. “I think with the way the world is today, a lot of times, we as women don’t feel like we are good enough to talk about ourselves this way, and if we do we worry other women see it as a threat — so it’s easier to not talk about the great things we are doing. I really wanted to find a way to change that, to celebrate these accomplishments by women and build a sense of community and connection with women around the world. And these are all everyday women doing things that are changing lives and impacting communities. So, UNUM was born.”

Tricia’s professional journey began in product development and business from the Melbourne School of Fashion, and from there she spent most of her life working in the world of visual design, which primed her for her new venture in online publishing. She lives in Santa Fe with her husband and daughter where she single handely publishes UNUM.

While Tricia is an inspirational women in her own right, some of the stories of other New Mexico women that she has share are Nina Yozell-Epstein, who saw a need to bridge the gap between local farmers and chefs, so she started Squash Blossom. Then there is Katelyn Hilburn, who left her work in community action and partnership to focus on opening the first broth bar in Santa Fe, and Liz Macias who has persevered to become the incredible mother, chef, and leader that she is today.

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“I am truly inspired by all of the women in every issue. I have been so honored at how open they all have been with me in sharing their own personal stories. Every woman involved is creative, courageous, powerful, and inspiring. As you will read, these are stories of determination, courage, and triumph,” she says. “I would really love to get into small communities around the world to share the stories of women doing incredible work on very close, local levels. My dream is to continue with the global magazine but end each year with a show with speakers from the magazine and across the globe.”

Her dream is coming to fruition. This July 13 UNUM will be having its first show at Design Warehouse in Santa Fe (101 West Marcy Street, 5-7pm) celebrating its first year anniversary. The show, called “One,” will feature a photo exhibition of all 84 women, and their stories, from the magazine, and four of them will be on hand to speak.

Learn more about UNUM Magazine at www.unummagazine.com, and on Instagram/Facebook @unummagazine.

 

Our Earth Spirit is Luxury, the Ethical Way

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From our recycled metals, to our nature-inspired designs, to the gem stones that the earth blesses us with, to the living wages we provide our team – at American West Jewelry we pride ourselves on giving our collectors next-to-nature, ethical luxury they can believe in. We know that the women who collect our jewelry are women just like us, conscious of the world around them and passionate about protecting the things that matter to them. We understand that knowing were their dollars are going and who and what they are affecting are important to them. We know that from their food to their jewelry, investing in their beliefs is not just a fad, it’s a way of life, because it’s a way of life for us, too.

So many of our collections are inspired by nature and the land around us, which for many on our team – and for many of you – is a land where their families have been rooted for more generations than we can count. Regardless, the earth has always been our home, and always will be. We love our planet and we love the spiritual connection that happens when we walk barefoot across her, when we feel her sunshine kiss us, her breeze hug us, her stars blanket us, her animals serenade us.

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When we created the Earth Spirit Collection our hearts were full of love for our land and her many extraordinary gifts. We chose stones that reminded us of summer sunsets and lakeside adventures. We sat and stared at at a full moon rising above a mountain crest, we listened to the haunting melody of an owl, and we studies the movements of wildflowers after a rain. We sketched and experimented, and explored as we designed, playing the way children play, rejoicing in the discovery of our own imagination. And slowly, bit by bit, the jewelry took shape, each piece a piece of love, each design an homage to life on this big, blue, beautiful ball. Now we offer the Earth Spirit Collection to you, friends we may never meet but sisters all the same.

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Ceinwen Carrejo is #AWYou

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Meet New Mexico artist Ceinwen Carrejo, owner of The Fiber Room, and our June #AWYou featured artist. #AWYou is our latest project in which we find New Mexicans whom we feel embrace and represent the spirit of American West Jewelry. From her love of history and nature to her free spirit, when we met Ceinwen we knew she fit the ticket.

At home in her studio, Ceinwen whose name comes from her Welsh ancestry, sits at her 100 year old Leclerc treadle loom conducting what feels like a primordial rhythm of creation. Feet and hands, feet and hands, a piece of cloth slowly forms before her like magic. At her feet lays her beloved dog, who looks more coyote than hound, and around her the walls display spools of hand dyed yarn.

“I am in love with the process of weaving and how the pattern is inherent to the structure of the piece,” she says. “It’s literally all interwoven.”

Ceinwen began learning the art of weaving in high school, and today owns a successful online store called The Fiber Room where she sells her handmade work to people around the world.

Click here to shop Ceinwen’s look

 

She tells me her work is based around nature from the animals that produce the wool to the natural material she harvests herself to dye it.

“It is a craft rooted in tradition,” she says.

Being amongst her tools and hearing her passion for this ancient craft, I recall time spent with my own grandmother, a traditional Navajo weaver who also worked with natural materials to produce a similar kind of art. For my and my grandmother’s people, it was a holy deity who in the form of a spider who taught the Navajo to weave. Online I find a similar story amongst the Welsh and am reminded that in every pocket of the world the process of weaving is as ancient as it is sacred. Woven cloth was after all often the difference between life and death.

As I invade her creative space with my camera and my questions, I discover what it is that truly connects Ceinwen to the #AWYou campaign. It is bringing the crafts of our ancestors into a modern market without loosing the reverence for the work. But it is understanding the connection between the earth and her people, and how selflessly she gives of herself so that we are able to survive.

“I am inspired by the magic that comes out of the earth,” Ceinwen says. “I’m inspired by the plants, the minerals – the unapologetic power of nature.”

Connect with Ceinwen and The Fiber Room online: Instagram @thefiberroom & www.etsy.com/shop/TheFiberRoom

Shop Ceinwen’s #AWYou look here:

Summer Along the Turquoise Trail: Pt. 1

Summer means road trip time! New Mexico is a gold mine of destination day-trips and one of our favorites happens to be the Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Named for one of our favorite things in the world, the Turquoise Trail got its name for the rich turquoise deposits that were found and mined along the 52-mile byway.

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In today’s blog we will take you to stop numero uno along this famous road — Madrid. The first thing you have to know about Madrid is that the locals pronounce it with a hard “a,” rather than the Spanish lilt of its namesake. This is just the first of many eccentricities that make “Mad-rid” a true hidden gem nestled in a canyon in the Ortiz Mountains. Founded in in 1869, Madrid found itself a large scale coal mine by the 1980s when the railroad arrived.

 Today it is home to about 400 residents and has become a ghost town reimagined as a quaint and quirky artists’ haven. In the village you will find several bustling galleries, shops, and the notoriously haunted Mine Shaft Tavern. The Mine Shaft is the pulse of the village, a fun and friendly meeting spot for locals and out-of-towners. With delicious food, good drinks, and great live music – including some well known traveling acts – the Mine Shaft is worth the visit alone.

 

At this unique waterin’ hole don’t be surprised to find the town dog (who belongs to everyone and no one) wandering from table to table politely looking for a treat. Or, strike up a conversation with the self-appointed town marshal who regularly dresses in Wyatt Earp-esque attire. Or plan your visit accordingly and immerse yourself in the color and culture of one of the town’s many festivals, such as the Gypsy Festival on June 23, or the CrawDaddy Blues Fest on May 19-20.

 Don’t plan a trip to Madrid unless you’re prepared to enjoy some art. At the Gypsy Gem you can find a large selection of rare New Mexico turquoise, while at the Indigo Gallery you can enjoy local fine art and jewelry, or hop over to the Metallo Gallery and shop their unique metal work and other eclectic art.

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Pack your camera and your adventure and embark to stop one on the trail, and shop the look HERE for our Summer Along the Turquoise Trail look!