Two Koosa Clowns and Greased Pole by Oqwa Pi


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Abel Sanchez, Oqwa Pi, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

Image of Abel Sanchez courtesy Russell Sanchez.  Subject to Copyright - Do not copy or reproduce without permission.This painting by San Ildefonso Pueblo artist Abel Sanchez (Oqwa Pi) features a pair of Koosa Clowns debating whether to climb the greased pole in search of the rewards at the top. One of the clowns, facing forward, appears to be saying no to the idea, and the other clown appears to be trying to talk him into doing so. This is an event held annually at Taos Pueblo but does not occur at San Ildefonso, so it appears that Oqwa Pi painted what he had witnessed at Taos Pueblo.

The clowns are humorous with their arms in animation of their conversation. One clown has his hair tied up in the Hopi unmarried maiden style. Clowns often mimic other cultures.

With this piece, Sanchez successfully captured the joy of the Koosa clowns on paper. His works are always energetic and charming, and that style is well-suited to this scene. As usual, there is no background or ground plane. The relative simplicity seen here is a strength, though—this painting is rich in beauty, character, and energy.

Artist signature of Abel Sanchez (1899-1971) Oqwa Pi - Kachina Stick of San Ildefonso PuebloThe painting is signed Oqwa Pi in lower right. It is framed in a gold wood frame, under a single layer of archival matting.

Abel Sanchez (1899-1971) Oqwa Pi - Kachina Stick was a painter from San Ildefonso Pueblo. He painted in the traditional flat depictions in vogue at the Santa Fe Indian School of the period. There are no ground planes, nor are there any background plants or features. He faithfully depicted the costuming of the figures, providing a detailed record of the clothing worn during the period. He started painting as early as age 20, or around 1919. Sanchez was eight times Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo and a farmer. Eventually, he earned enough from sales of his paintings to support a very large family. His works were exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Institute, Yale University, Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Stanford University, and the Gallery of Fine Arts in Muskegon, Michigan. The fresh color, action and great simplicity of his paintings made them well-received in all these exhibits.

Condition: very good condition and properly framed using archival materials.

Provenance: this Two Koosa Clowns and Greased Pole by Oqwa Pi is from the collection of a family from Santa Fe

Recommended Reading: Dunn, Dorothy. American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas, University of New Mexico Press, 1968

TAGS: Russell SanchezSan Ildefonso PuebloNative American PaintingsAbel Sanchez

Alternate close-up view of a section of this painting.

Abel Sanchez, Oqwa Pi, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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