1980-02 Santa Clara Carved Red Melon Bowl

Object ID:
1980-02

Artist:
Angela Baca

Culture:
Santa Clara (?)

Dimensions:
3.875" h X 5.75" w

Santa Clara carved red-ware melon bowl, Angela Baca. Ms. Baca is the daughter of Severa Tofoya and all four of her children are potters. See Dillingham (1994:166) for Ms Baca’s picture, comments about potting, and a picture of a red-ware melon bowl. I asked Ms Baca to make this bowl for me during a conversation at her home, July 1980.   For a similar bowl, see LeFree (1975:figure 12).

When selling a similar pot at Adobe Gallery in 2021, Al Alexander Jr. wrote of Ms Baca:

“Award-winning Santa Clara Pueblo artist Angela Baca has long been associated with her ability to produce beautiful red and black pottery jars with melon ribs. Works in the melon style are first coil-formed with a large diameter coil and allowed to dry to a leather-hard state. They are then carved with the distinctive ribs. After carving, the work is slipped in iron-bearing red slip, intricately stone-polished and then fired in either a smothered, reduction atmosphere to achieve the superb black finish, or in an oxidizing atmosphere to achieve the red finish.

Angela Baca (1927-2014) is most likely represented in every collection of contemporary pottery with one of her black or red melon jars, the style and shape that has been associated with her since the 1960s. She was probably the first potter to produce melon jars. I recall that the very first purchase I made at The Covered Wagon in Albuquerque in the 1960s was a black melon jar by Angela Baca at a price of $35. I was so impressed when I saw it that I put it on lay-away immediately.

Others must have thought like me because Angela’s pottery received awards at Santa Fe Indian Market every year she entered for competition.  She also was awarded Best of Show at the Heard Museum and was presented with a Special Award by the French government. Her pottery was included in an exhibit of pottery by Maria and Julian Martinez in 1984 at a gallery in New Jersey and included in an exhibit of pottery by Margaret Tafoya at Sid Deusch Gallery in New York in 1985.”

Purchase History:
Item was commissioned by the artist during a conversation at her home, in July 1980. The bowl was purchased and delivered at her booth at the Indian Market, August 1980.