Category Archives: Uncategorized

Juan Quezada, Mata Ortiz Potter

A Visit to Mata Ortiz

Juan Quezada is a friendly and engaging host. He absolutely knows a lot about pottery and all things Mata Ortiz.

Juan Quezada in his back yard with a purple pot

Juan Quezada in his back yard with a purple pot. Notice the movement in the pot’s design.

Among stories shared by visitors:

  • Mark says, “He made a special stop just to tell us how much he liked our work!”
  • Paula Mae says, “He stopped by to bring us some honey from a honeycomb he found in the sierra.”
  • Rochelle says, “He spent an entire afternoon showing us around his ranch and was a most gracious host.”
  • Jason remembers, “So generous with his time. He chatted with us all afternoon about local politics.”
  • And from Tom, “Juan Quezada took us to some of the local areas of archaeological interest. He seemed to enjoy the sightseeing and exploring as much as we did.”

Juan at Home

Juan loves to experiment with clay, rocks and colorants. His wife, Guillermina, says he’s crazy about rocks. His late mother spoke of Juan’s  being covered in a rainbow of colors from his youthful experiments with minerals.

A good example of Juan’s passion for colors and clays is a story Michael Wisner relates in Mata Ortiz Pottery: Art and Life. It happened years ago when Juan and Michael were looking for a new clay in the sierra above Mata Ortiz. A long day of intense searching had yielded a cache of purple clay. Purple! Que milagro!

Juan digging the purple clay in the sierra.

Juan digging the purple clay in the sierra.

With nighttime overtaking the landscape, the two old friends returned to Mata Ortiz. Even with a delicious dinner prepared by his wife Guille, Juan could barely sit still to enjoy his meal. He couldn’t wait to get into his little studio to begin working with this most unusual mauve-like clay. He worked late into the night with the new clay that would soon become a series of remarkable purple pots.

Early the next morning, Michael found Juan busy at work, and looking exhausted. He had been up all night, unable to sleep, his mind racing about the possibilities of the new clay.

Tell us your stories about Juan Quezada. We’d love to hear from you.

Studio photo

Studio photo

Damian Quezada pot, Juan's nephew

Damian Quezada pot, Juan’s nephew




Nighttime Firing and Primitive Pottery

Suzy 5Photos All 030The Community of Potters

“A wild wind howls through the black night of autumn. This is neither the hour nor the weather for firing. Yet near the ancient river, tall flames pierce the dark. Sparks spiral toward the heavens. The shadowy specter of a woman moves within the amber glow of an adobe wall. The lone potter circles the bonfire of her pots.

Her day has been long. Four sons, as bright as they are unruly, have exhausted her. The one girl, her youngest, is sweet-tempered and delicate and worries her. Her man, handsome and talented, tries her patience. At last they are asleep.

On the kitchen table, a J C Penney catalog lies open to a page of children’s jackets. Winter nears. Traders from the north may be willing to bring the coats she has selected in exchange for a fine black pot.

Under the timeless moon, in the abiding warmth of a fire, the woman works into the early hours of a new day. Like mothers through the ages, she is conjuring the future. Like potters of bygone millennia, she sends messages through time, beams of firelight and bits of clay, to past and future artists who rest among the stars.”

2012-06-18 22.54.53References

Gilbert, Bill, ed. The Potters of Mata Ortiz/Las ceramistas de Mata Ortiz: Transforming a Tradition. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Museum, 1995.

Goebel, Ron. Mata Ortiz Pottery: Art and Life. San Jose, California: DeHart Publishing, 2008.