Very Large Painting of a Plaza Buffalo Dance

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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This monumental painting of a San Ildefonso Pueblo Buffalo Dance was made by José Encarnación Peña. The dancers appear facing forward, which seems to have been the artist's preferred perspective. Four spectators appear, facing the opposite direction. The remainder of the image is unpainted, with no landscape or environmental element of any kind.

Five male and female Buffalo Dancers are in the upper center, each with their hands held up displaying the items in each hand. Down the outer perimeters are numerous Deer Dancers, each carrying sticks in both hands which represent the front legs of the animal.

We have handled many of Peña's works over the years, and this is undoubtedly one of the strongest. The colors are vibrant, the composition is appealing, and the figures display notably detailed work. Most significantly, the unique character of Peña's work seems to shine within this particular offering. The brilliant colors chosen for the dancers stand out beautifully on the white background. This is the largest painting by him that we have seen.

Painting title and artist signature of José Encarnación Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo PainterThe painting is signed in lower right Soqueen and noted as a Buffalo Dance. It has recently been framed beautifully in high quality materials.

José Encarnación Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - "So Kwa A Weh" (Frost on the Mountain) was painting at San Ildefonso Pueblo at the same time as Tonita Peña, Richard Martínez, Luís Gonzales, Abel Sánchez, and Romando Vigil. In his early years, he was not as prolific as his peers. It was during the last ten years of his life that he became most productive. He is represented in the collections of the Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe; Museum of New Mexico; Denver Art Museum; and many others. Though similar in spirit, Soqween's works are very different from those of his contemporaries. His works are simple, often using just two or three colors. His outlines, often done in light gray, are less important to his compositions than the thick blocks of bold colors with which they are filled. These blocks of color are the tools with which he composed his subjects: pueblo dancers, in traditional regalia, often viewed head-on instead of in profile. Soqween's style is a simple, charming, and unusual variation of the "flat" style that he and his peers were taught at the Santa Fe Indian School.


Condition: original condition

Provenance: this Very Large Painting of a Plaza Buffalo Dance is from the collection of a client from Texas

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

TAGS: paintingSan Ildefonso PuebloTonita PeñaRichard MartínezLuís GonzalesAbel SánchezRomando VigilTonita PeñaSanta FeDorothy DunnJosé Encarnacion Peña

We have handled many of Peña's works over the years, and this is undoubtedly one of the strongest. The colors are vibrant, the composition is appealing, and the figures display notably detailed work. Most significantly, the unique character of Peña's work seems to shine within this particular offering. The brilliant colors chosen for the dancers stand out beautifully on the white background. This is the largest painting by him that we have seen.

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

José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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