Louis Naranjo, Cochiti Pueblo Potter
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Cochiti Pueblo artist Louis Naranjo learned from the matriarchs on how to make pottery and is known for his bear pottery figurines.
Louis Naranjo (August 17, 1932 - March 6, 1997) was born at Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. He learned pottery making from his mother Frances Suina and his wife Virginia Naranjo. He "began his career as a potter late in life, after his wife, Virginia, had a stroke. She and his mother taught him how to make pottery. He is famous as the innovator of the Bear Storytellers. He got the idea while deer hunting. He walked around a large rock and froze in his tracks. Before him sat a mother bear playing with her twin cubs. Louis backed out slowly around the rock and took off running. Later he thought about the playful scene of the mother bear with her cubs and decided to make the first Bear Storyteller." - Southern Pueblo Pottery by Greg Schaaf
Louis and Virginia Naranjo were standard bearers for the proud figurative pottery tradition of Cochiti Pueblo. They crafted their figurines at their kitchen table in their comfortable adobe home at the pueblo. They worked almost every day crafting their art with great care, joking and exchanging the gossip of the day as they went along, accompanied by television, children and grandchildren. Their art provided a good life for them and it provided a legacy that will be with us for another century or more.
Louis and Virginia had a wonderful sense of humor. They fashioned figurines in clay of bikini clad men and women with cameras dangling from their necks, mermaids, men with baseball caps, Santa Claus, and many other characters. Also, they crafted Angels, Storytellers, Padres, and Pueblo Dancers.
Reference: Southern Pueblo Pottery by Greg Schaaf