Johnny Cruz

San Ildefonso
Photo of Johnny Cruz, a potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo
An avanyu design on a micaceous black jar by Johnny Cruz

A great-grandson of Maria Martinez, Johnny Cruz Jr. was born to Viola and Johnny Cruz Sr. on September 1, 1975. A daughter of Adam and Santana Martinez, Viola produced some pottery but her artistic efforts were more in the direction of textiles and painting. When we asked Johnny were he learned his craft he quickly responded "My grandmother Santana and grandfather Adam, and my brother and his wife, Marvin and Frances Martinez."

A regular participant in several annual Native American Arts shows like the Santa Fe Indian Market, Heard Museum Guild and Arizona State Museum Show, Johnny has earned ribbons from the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival (Oklahoma City, OK: 1st place in Traditional Pottery, 2010) and the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show (Espanola, NM).

Johnny says his favorite style of pottery to make is what his great-grandmother called a "fist pot" (it's about the size of a fist but a bit less spherical) and while he likes to use a micaceous clay slip on the surfaces, he also likes to paint avanyu's, feathers and geometric designs like his great-grandfather used to paint.

When he's not making pottery (which isn't often: Johnny loves working with clay), you can usually find him either at a local baseball game (rooting for his kids) or a local art show (showing his pots and/or rooting for his kids).

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - - All Rights Reserved


San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa
Black Mesa at San Ildefonso Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo is located about twenty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly on the eastern bank of the Rio Grande. Although their ancestry has been traced as far back as abandoned pueblos in the Mesa Verde area in southwestern Colorado, the most recent ancestral home of the people of San Ildefonso is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric villages of Tyuonyi, Otowi, Navawi and Tsankawi specifically. The area of Tsankawi abuts the reservation on its northwest side.

The San Ildefonso name was given to the village in 1617 when a mission church was established. Before then the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300's and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That village mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and when Don Diego de Vargas returned to reclaim the San Ildefonso area in 1694, he found virtually the entire tribe on top of nearby Black Mesa. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their village. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. Finally, the Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the tribe's population to about 90. The tribe's population has increased to more than 600 today but the only economic activity available for most on the pueblo involves the creation of art in one form or another. The only other jobs are off-pueblo. San Ildefonso's population is small compared to neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo, but the pueblo maintains its own religious traditions and ceremonial feast days.

San Ildefonso has produced fine ceramic art since early pre-Columbian times. The pueblo is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters have produced quality pottery from this pueblo, too, among them: Blue Corn, Tonita and Juan Roybal, Dora Tse Pe and Rose Gonzales. Of course the descendants of Maria Martinez are still important pillars of San Ildefonso's pottery tradition. Maria's influence reached far and wide, so far and wide that even Juan Quezada, founder of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

San Ildefonso Pueblo location map

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, by Daniel Gibson
Photo is in the public domain

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - - All Rights Reserved