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Original Painting of a Pueblo Eagle Dance by Ma Pe Wi [SOLD]

C4186-paint.jpg

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Velino Shije Herrera (1902-1973) Ma Pe Wi - Oriole
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Zia Pueblo
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    11” x 14-¾” image;
    17-⅞” x 21-½” framed
  • Item # C4186
  • SOLD

Velino Shije Herrera (1902-1973) Ma Pe Wi - Oriole was a Zia Pueblo painter who is regarded as one of the earliest known Rio Grande pueblo painters. Crescencio Martinez of San Ildefonso Pueblo was, by most accounts, the earliest of the pueblo easel artists. Martinez passed away in 1918, long before pueblo easel art was recognized as existing. He was followed by four young pueblo men who essentially constitute the first artists to produce paintings for sale. The four were Martinez's nephew Awa Tsireh, Hopi artists Fred Kabotie and Otis Polelonema, and Velino Herrera. These artists became very productive around 1918, feeding off each other's enthusiasm. Dr. Edgar Lee Hewitt, Director of the Museum of New Mexico, arranged for the four young men to work at the museum in 1920. Famous New Mexicans Alice Corbin Henderson, Mary Austin, and Mabel Dodge Luhan were instrumental in finding outlets for the works of these artists. They purchased their paintings and found others to purchase them as well.

In 1919, Elizabeth DeHuff, wife of the newly-appointed superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School, arranged an exhibit of the art of the Indian School students. DeHuff canvassed the classes to find students who excelled in paintings and drawings. She stated "Two boys showed early marks of genius: a Zia Pueblo boy, Velino Shije (later Herrera), in a primary grade whom the teacher complained drew animals and faces upon all the papers she gave to him for school work; and a Hopi boy, Fred Kabotie, who would forget what he was doing when he had sawed half through a board in the carpenter's shop and intently draw figures on its surface... One could not learn, the other would never be a carpenter, so they might just as well be occupied elsewhere." Brody 1997

At the age of 20 years, Herrera’s painting technique had improved tremendously and his works showed great confidence and control.  He was applying colors in complementary tones and could exhibit perspective in his works. Ethnographic accuracy was important to Herrera and his paintings were strong in that regard.  Clara Lee Tanner’s Southwest Indian Painting: A Changing Art praised Herrera’s skill and versatility: “Watercolor, Shiva, tempera and oils, all have been mastered by Velino Herrera.  He has painted murals in homes and in public buildings; particular mention should be made of his fine work in the Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.  His work is done in a flat style, or with a little shading, or in full perspective. Full realism to abstract painting were developed by Ma-Pe-Wi, frequently the two styles appear in the same picture.” Today, his paintings are considered to be quite collectible, because of his historical significance and the quality of his work.

This excellent Ma-Pe-Wi painting of an Eagle Dance ceremony includes proof of its age and exhibition history.  Attached to the back of the frame is a board that is labeled with two tags that read: “#151. XVIIIth BIENNIAL INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBITION - VENICE, 1932.  Name and Surname: MA-PE-WE (sic). TITLE OF THE WORK: ‘EAGLE DANCERS’. Proprietor: GRAND CENTRAL ART GALLERIES. Address: 15 VANDERBILT AVE, NEW YORK.” A third tag reads “THE EXPOSITION OF INDIAN TRIBAL ARTS INCORPORATED.”  Also attached to the board are a framer’s label and an italian stamp of some sort. Written on the board in pencil is text that appears to read “Property of William Bull, New York City.”

Artist Signature - Velino Shije Herrera (1902-1973) Ma Pe Wi - OrioleWhile it would most certainly excite certain collectors, the painting’s excellent provenance is not its most appealing characteristic. Its true appeal lies in its beauty and charm. It’s an excellent painting, with a strong symmetrical dance arrangement and fantastic colors.   Ma-Pa-Wi’s color choices here are powerful, and they remain vivid and bright despite the painting’s age. The two eagle dancers are depicted in profile, as was the style of the time. His two drummers, however, face the viewer directly, standing behind the dancers and providing musical accompaniment.  It’s an unusual composition, executed with style and grace by one of the earliest known Pueblo painters.

 

Condition: this Original Painting of a Pueblo Eagle Dance by Ma Pe Wi is in excellent condition for a piece of its age

Provenance: private collection

Recommended Reading: Southwest Indian Painting: A Changing Art by Clara Lee Tanner

Relative Links: Velino Shije Herrera - Ma Pe Wi', Zia Pueblo, Native American Art, Crescencio Martinez, San Ildefonso Pueblo, Pueblo Easel Art, Native American Paintings, Awa Tsireh, Hopi Pueblo, Fred Kabotie, Otis Polelonema

Velino Shije Herrera (1902-1973) Ma Pe Wi - Oriole
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Zia Pueblo
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    11” x 14-¾” image;
    17-⅞” x 21-½” framed
  • Item # C4186
  • SOLD

C4186-paint.jpgC4186-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.