Soqween — The Early Individualist
April 01, 2020 until June 30, 2020
José Encarnacion Peña (1902-1979) Soqween, of San Ildefonso Pueblo, was an early Pueblo painter with a charming, unique style.
Soqween began painting in the 1920s, and continued until his death in 1979. During the 1930s, he was educated by Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School. This period is often referred to as the beginning of Pueblo painting, but it would be more accurate to say that it was the period during which the art form became more popular and more widely practiced. Thanks in part to the encouragement of an elementary school teacher named Esther Hoyt, Pueblo painting was alive and well at San Ildefonso during the first decade of the twentieth century. Tonita Peña, Alfonso Roybal, Santana Roybal (later Martinez), Abel Sanchez, and Romando Vigil were among Hoyt’s early students.
Despite arriving a bit later than Hoyt’s early students, Soqween should be referred to as an integral part of the San Ildefonso movement. His style, which varied greatly from that of his predecessors, deserves a close look today. It’s loose, energetic and expressive; Soqween’s work seems driven by movement and intuition. Many of the aforementioned early San Ildefonso painters are rightly celebrated for their incredible detail and precision. Soqween presented similar images and themes using his own idiosyncratic style, and he did so successfully and effectively. Among known Pueblo painters, Soqween was one of the earliest individualists.
His works are included in many major public and private collections. The most notable might be the Denver Art Museum, which includes a large group of Soqween’s works within its wonderful collection of Native artwork.
We are pleased to present this collection of nine Soqween paintings. Many of these works came to us directly from the artist’s family. We hope you enjoy browsing the collection, and we encourage you to consider adding one of Soqween’s wonderfully unique works to your collection.