Feather Olla with Turquoise

Cavan Gonzales


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Remarkable talent has coursed from great-great grandmother, the legendary Maria Martinez, straight through great-grandparents, Adam & Santana Martinez, and his noted mother, Barbara Gonzales, to continue in this latest generation of recognized pottery artists.

Cavan is a major award-winning potter, who often maintains the old, polychrome style of San Ildefonso pottery.

This was the characteristic style of San Ildefonso pottery, until his great-great-grandparents rediscovered the technique of all black pottery.

This striking olla combines the old-style, matte-painted surfaces with the mirror-bright, stone-polished, red clay bottom half.

The dense black paint is derived from steeping wild spinach leaves; the ocher and red are natural clay.

A modern innovation is the delicate turquoise heishi that circles the widest part of the pot.

With its clear blues and greens, the turquoise is a handsome complement, and accent, to the warm hues of the russet and gold olla.

The varied colors of the matrix – browns, greens, blues, even touches of black – repeat the earthy clay tones.

Turquoise represents the sky and water, while the red and gold clays symbolize the earth.

The cleanly defined band of spade-like forms, that marches half-way around the top of the pot, are stylized eagle feathers.

Eagles are kings of the sky, flying so high they are considered messengers, carrying prayer to the heavens.

Separating the two rows of feathers are agitated diagonal designs, signifying rain, storms, lightning, and wind.

Etched into the polished red bottom half, tadpoles and water drops are accompanied by an arrow, and a stylized sun.

The symbolism of this handsome design refers to prayers for enough water, in various forms, to balance the sun, and promote healthy crops.

A three-dimensional prayer, this beautifully constructed and painted pot is balanced in every way: in colors, design, form, techniques, materials, and meaning.

Not large, but with a powerful presence, this olla is a direct link to the great Maria and Julian Martinez.

It stands on its own, as a meticulously hand fashioned, traditional, and wonderfully dramatic piece of pottery.

A must-have for the serious collector, or for you, who wants to start a collection of the finest.

PS “Eagle Tail”, etched along with Cavan Gonzales on the bottom, is the artist’s Indian name.

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