Mata Ortiz Pottery- How it all Started


In 1976, Spencer Heath MacCallum walked into Bob’s Swap Shop in Deming, New Mexico. There, among the battered pans and chipped china, he came across three, handmade, ceramic pots. Each was perfectly symmetrical, with red and black painted geometric designs covering the extremely thin clay walls.  He purchased the pots and took them back home to California. Over the coarse of the next month he couldn’t get the three pots or the unknown maker out of his mind. On his next trip back he asked  the owner of the Swap Shop if she had any idea who made them. She did not, but suggested that “Mexico would be a good place to start.” Spencer decided then and there he must find this artist. With only three pictures of the pots to go by, he set off through northern Mexico looking for this unknown potter. He assumed it must be a woman, as all the great American Southwest potters had been: Nampeyo, who revived the Hopi pottery tradition, Maria Martinez (Poveka) of San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Lucy Lewis of Acoma Pueblo. After a day or two of searching, they were given […]

Pueblo Storyteller Pottery


Helen Cordero of the Cochiti Pueblo is known as the first person to make a storyteller doll. The people of the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico, situated between the Rio Grande River and the Jemez Mountains, have been making distinctive pottery featuring black designs over the top of layers and layers of white clay slip for over one thousand years. Traditionally the potters of Cochiti made useful items such as pots, bowls, and other containers. They also made small figures of animals and people. Some of these figures were decorative. Others were used for ceremonies. One of the most common was a mother holding a child. These mother-child figures were known as “singing mothers” because their mouths were always left open to let the lullaby out. In 1964, drawing on the “singing mother” motif, Helen created a clay figure based upon her grandfather Santiago Quintana. Mr. Quintana was a renowned pueblo storyteller. What she most remembered about is seeing him with lots and lots of grandchildren, like herself, climbing on him, begging him for stories, a request that he almost never refused. He told stories of Coyote, Rabbit, and Badger, […]

Jemez Pueblo Potter Pauline Romero

Pauline Romero

Jemez Pueblo potter Pauline Romero has been producing pottery for over 35 years. Pauline has won awards at Santa Fe Indian Market, New Mexico State Fair and Intertribal Indian Ceremonial.

Mixed media paintings by Native American Farrell Cockrum

Farrell Cockrum "Horse" 40" x 30"

  In September, American Trails will be highlighting the work of Blackfoot artist Farrell Cockrum. Farrell’s great passion in life is informing the world of his rich, Native American heritage through his contemporary works of art. Steeped in the traditions and culture of his native ancestors, Farrell captures the spirit of the Blackfeet Nation in each of his unique and colorful paintings. Vivid color, rich texture and striking subject matter are core ingredients in a Farrell Cockrum painting. Farrell’s captivating subjects include native figures and honored wildlife; such as the majestic eagle, the American bison and the strong, silent western bred horse. Add a touch of abstract expressionism and streaming colors of a Blackfoot Chief and you are entering Farrell’s world. Farrell studied at art at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe in the early 1980’s. He is very well known throughout the southwest and collected across the world. He lives and paints in Albuquerque.

1970’s Kachinas and Lelooska Dolls

  American Trails is proud to highlight the collection of 1970’s Hopi Kachina dolls and NW Coast dolls made by Shona-hah from Ricky and Linda Miller. Here is how Ricky described the relationship between his father and the Hopi artists: My parents were in Scottsdale, AZ looking at Kachina’s in the stores, and my dad wanted to meet an artist.  One of the owners of the store put him in touch with Joe Gash.  So they went out to the third mesa to Joe Gash’s home.  He met and liked him very much,  purchased a Kachina from him that day.  After my dad returned home, he began to correspond with Joe Gash.  He  had a couple of Kachina doll books and would look through them and would find a doll that caught his eye; hence, he would write to Joe Gash and ask him to carve it for him.  A couple of months later, it would be delivered to his home.,  This is how he dealt with the purchases from him.  After receiving the doll, he would send a check with an order for another one, along with any embellishments […]

Pam Stoehsler

American Trails is proud to have Pam Stoehsler as our featured artist of the month. Pam portrays close encounters with nature, and gives you a view of wildlife not often seen by the casual observer. Her exquisitely detailed and realistic portraits of birds and animals bring to life natures secret moments. The artist grew up in the small northern California town of Adin, where country living prevailed and wildlife was abundant. She now lives in Klamath Falls, the west’s largest flyway for northern bird migrating to California and Mexico, offering Pam a unique opportunity to photograph and observe a large variety of birds and other wildlife. Some of Pam’s many achievements include: winner of the Oregon Upland Gamebird Stamp in two consecutive years, 1995 and 1996, California Upland Gamebird Stamp in 1997, Oregon’s Ducks Unlimited Artist of the year in 1998, California Upland Gamebird Stamps in 2000-2001 and 2002-2003. She was also awarded the opportunity to create three paintings depicting early coastal life of the Coos, Lower Umpqua ( of which she is a member) and Siuslaw Native Americans. The paintings are displayed in the Coos Bay, Oregon tribal office. […]

Fred Harvey “Tourist” Bracelets

In 1876, Fred Harvey (pictured above) struck a deal with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad company, allowing him to establish eating houses along the railroad lines. They were known as “Harvey Houses” and wealthy and middle-class Anglo tourists would stop for food and rest as they traveled through the “Wild West.” Harvey passed in 1901, but his sons continued in their fathers foot steps. Once the automobile became a more common form of transportation, there became a considerable decline in the amount of train passengers. To adjust, the Harvey Company developed new attractions to drum up business. They began to market the lifestyle of the Native Americans of the Southwest by staging “Indian Detours” or scenes of Native American living in the desert. Indian arts and crafts were sold and the birth of “Fred Harvey Jewelry” was born. More lightweight than traditional Native American silverwork, the jewelry was easier to wear for the Anglo tourists. It is also marked by a fair amount of ornamentation/stamping. The biggest change from earlier native jewelry (Pre 1900) was it became mass produced with the help of specialized machinery and commercial sheet […]

Alebrije or Animalistas

In May, we will be featuring the folk art of Oaxaca, Mexico. Fanciful carvings called alebrije or animalistas were first done by artist Pedro Linares Lopez in the 1930’s. When documentarian Judith Bronowski made a documentary about Pedro in 1975 he soon rose to international fame. The art form took off and we are proud to have over 80 families represented in our gallery. First Friday- We are proud to have guitarist Jon Galfano performing        

Grand Opening and Appraisal Day

American Trails will be having its Grand Opening during the First Friday Artwalk on April 7th. April 22 Free Appraisal Day 12-4 pm. Do you have an Indian basket, bracelet, Navajo weaving or anything else ethnographic? Bring it down and owner David Bobb will be on hand to give you an idea of what it is, where its from and it’s current value. Dave has over 30 years experience in the Native Arts field.