Two Spotted Clowns Dancing by Pablita Velarde


+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend

Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter

Pablita Velarde's Quirano Clowns: A Dance of Tradition and Symbolism

This exquisite painting by the renowned Santa Clara artist, Pablita Velarde, brings to life a vibrant scene featuring two Quirano Clowns immersed in a dance amidst a backdrop teeming with deer and flourishing plant life. The clowns stand out, not just for their dynamic presence, but also for their unique attire. Contrary to the typical striped patterns seen on clowns, these figures are adorned with polka dots, a characteristic feature of Keres clowns, setting them apart from their Tewa counterparts who are known for their striped body paint.

Known as Quirano clowns, these figures were once a common sight at the Tewa pueblos, but have been absent for several decades. Velarde, celebrated for her depictions of historical scenes, not only from her native Santa Clara Pueblo but also from other pueblos, brings these clowns back to life on her canvas. They represent a part of the history she cherished, a history passed down to her by Old Grandfather, the Storyteller. If this painting captures a recent event, it could likely be a celebration at Cochiti or Santo Domingo Pueblo.

The clowns, integral to the religious celebrations at all the pueblos, are known by various names-Tewa Clowns, Koshari, Koosa, and more. Despite the different names, their roles remain similar. They serve as ribald entertainers, dancing and cavorting during the intermissions between pueblo dances.

The attention to detail in this painting is extraordinary. Velarde has meticulously crafted the clowns' attire, complete with headdresses, sashes, and belts of intricate detail. The sky behind the clowns is depicted in a mesmerizing blend of blue, red, and white hues, reflecting the enchanting skies so typical of the Southwest. The deer, plant life, and pueblo in the background have been constructed with significant precision, adding depth and richness to the scene. This painting is a testament to Velarde's artistic prowess and her deep respect for her cultural heritage.

Artist siganture (and date) of Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara PainterThe painting is signed in the lower left hand corner Pablita Velarde 1999.

Pablita Velarde (1918-2006) Tse Tsan (Golden Dawn) was an innovative and influential artist from Santa Clara Pueblo. Velarde was among the first full-time female students in Dorothy Dunn's art class at the Santa Fe Indian School, where she studied alongside Tonita Peña. These two women are regarded as the first Native American women to support themselves as painters, but it's not just because of this that they are remembered so fondly. It's because of the quality of their works that they have remained so visible in the many years since they have passed. Velarde passed away in 2006.

Condition: excellent

Provenance: this painting of Two Spotted Clowns Dancing by Pablita Velarde is from the estate of a family from Albuquerque

Recommended Reading: "Woman's Work" : The Art of Pablita Velarde by Sally Hyer, The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

TAGS: Native American PaintingsSanta Clara PuebloTonita PeñawatercolorHelen HardinNavajo Nation

Close-up view of a section of this painting.

Pablita Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo Painter
C4767E-paint.jpgC4767E-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.