Native Showcase

Pojoaque Resort To Feature Indian Artwork

Date June 28, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Categories Local News & Sports


You could call it €œPueblo Dancer Descending a Staircase.€

With apologies to Marcel Duchamp, the massive stained glass work glows beside the grand staircase of the Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque. Slated to open Aug. 12, the 390-room complex houses nearly 200 pieces of pottery, paintings, sculptures, rugs, tapestries and carvings by American Indian artists from every New Mexico pueblo and tribe.

Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera€™s Poeh Museum office spills over with artwork commissioned or inspired by the $245 million complex, which sprawls across 66,000 square feet of meeting and convention space €” an Indianmeets-Vegas style casino, spa and restaurants.

€œIt€™s over $1 million just for the art objects,€ Rivera said.

Star Santa Clara ceramist Roxanne Swentzell contributed a nearly 2-foot-tall pot circled by Koshare clowns engaging in various games of chance, including cards and dice, which are no larger than a match head.

Acoma Pueblo€™s Joseph Cerno made a massive black and white pot emblazoned with a buffalo. Serrated lines framing the animal symbolize the vibrations of its hooves pounding the earth, Rivera said. A pot by Cochiti€™s Diego Romero strikes a socially conscious note with images of a New Mexico landscape scarred by cars and factories, complete with archaeological ruins scattered beneath the soil.

All of the pottery will be encased in a €œpottery wall€ in the resort lobby.

€œI think by collaborating and giving them a place to go into, we€™re challenging the artists a little bit,€ Rivera said. €œWhen Diego Romero came in and saw (the larger works), he went back and started making bigger pots. So the stakes have been raised.€

This year€™s Santa Fe Indian Market poster artist Mateo Romero contributed about half a dozen paintings. Contemporary Navajo painter Tony Abeyta produced an abstraction composed of mica, bone and turquoise nuggets on plaster board.

Some original works bleed into the resort€™s interior decor. The browns and creams of a turn-of-the-century checkerboard Navajo weaving emerge in the carpeting. Other textiles include a red, circa 1910-1913 Third Phase Chief€™s Revival blanket. Many of the paintings will be duplicated in the hotel rooms. Light fixtures swell into oversized Hopi and Apache baskets. Petroglyph cutouts carve the ceilings.

A recognized artist in his own right, Rivera contributed a 10-foot-tall bronze deer dancer and a 12-foot-high buffalo.

Inside the retail-and-restaurant rich promenade, collectors can browse Indian Market 365 days a year. The resort has contracted with the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts to create a SWAIA-sponsored gallery.

€œWe€™ll probably have four shows here a year,€ Rivera said. €œThey€™ll be able to get on a computer and contact any artist they want.€

The resort itself will serve as its own museum, offering visitors some of the best of American Indian art and culture, Rivera said. €œOur focus is that Buffalo Thunder isn€™t just a destination resort that we took as a cookie cutter from someplace else.€

Rivera planted the seed that became the glass showpiece by showing artist Rose Simpson (Swentzell€™s daughter ) a rendering of the Duchamp original.

The artist€™s 10-by-20-foot glass panel riffs on the Dada godfather€™s €œNude Descending a Staircase€ with a decidedly pueblo theme, complete with broken plane geometry. Crowned with a traditional blue tablita, the figure carries a sprig of evergreen.

€œI always loved the movement (of the original), so I said, €˜Let€™s do it pueblo style,€™ € Rivera said.