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Conversation with Bruce Bernstein about clay artist Lonnie Vigil

Meeting  /  08 Dec 2019
Published: 03.12.2019
Conversation with Bruce Bernstein about clay artist Lonnie Vigil.
Patina Gallery
Management:
Ivan Barnett, Allison Buchsbaum Barnett
Left: Tall Gun Metal Gray Jar by Lonnie Vigil. Right: portrait of Bruce Bernstein. Photo by Will Wilson..
Left: Tall Gun Metal Gray Jar by Lonnie Vigil. Right: portrait of Bruce Bernstein. Photo by Will Wilson.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Explore a dynamic and fresh perspective of Native art from a master source in the field. Bruce Bernstein, director of innovation & senior curator for the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, visits the gallery to discuss Patina’s estate collection of Nambé Pueblo clay artist, Lonnie Vigil.
Join us as we journey into a significant sphere of works that intimately connect to the fundamental roots of our historical City Different.

As a self-taught, clay artist, Vigil is credited with single-handedly reviving unpainted, micaceous clay pottery, and establishing it as a contemporary art form. His vessels have received multiple Blue Ribbons, awarded by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, Santa Fe Indian Market. Notably, the artist’s work is also a part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Bernstein is a long-time arts and culture specialist. He was appointed as assistant director for collections & research for the National Museum of the American Indian before becoming the executive director for the Santa Fe Indian Market. He also served as a senior scholar in the Smithsonian Institution’s anthropology department.

In New Mexico, Bernstein held the position of director and chief curator for the state Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. He was the associate director for both the Wheelwright Museum and the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.

With deep involvement in the throngs of impacting American art, Bernstein’s expertise aptly parallels the exceptional artistry of legendary maker, Lonnie Vigil.


Words from our founders: Why is the work of Lonnie Vigil perfect for Patina?

1. Why do you feel the micaceous clay pottery of Lonnie Vigil is a soul-stirring fit for Patina Gallery?
Ivan: Lonnie possesses a unique focus in the Native arts. While his creative process is endowed with rich tradition, his work fits Patina’s aesthetic of clean, contemporary design. In his form, surface and patina, pieces are aligned with mine and Allison’s sensibility of soul-stirring works: Pieces are imbued with personality and have a voice. His designs are pure and I believe, create timelessness. His work is a perfect pairing to Patina’s philosophy of Beauty over Time.

Allison: Lonnie’s work carries great soul and character. He is spiritual and thinks deeply about what it means to be working with the clay. His acute attention to shape and form is exceptional and very much his own. The openings of the clay jars are sensuous, exotic and convey a captivating idiosyncrasy. It was his calling to pursue this work and he found his way through personal and spiritual discovery. He left a career in corporate America to return to his roots, to create beautiful micaceous clay vessels with respect to his ancestors, yet he propelled it to a new, contemporary art form.


2. How do you feel his pieces contribute to the curatorial narrative of the gallery space?
Ivan: These pieces contribute to another dimension of the story to the gallery. Allison and I have always shown works that we love. We carefully curate Patina with varying works of art while still imparting a fluid narrative between them. To me, his works live in two worlds; they bridge traditional Native pottery with a contemporary perspective. And of course, his pieces also are stunning within the space.


3. How has this second market collection contributed to Patina’s new Contemporary Estate exhibition?
Ivan: We are overjoyed to have the opportunity to care for this collection while we introduce Patina’s Contemporary Estate Collection; the exhibition opens Friday, November 22nd 2019. These second market works greatly enrich the gallery’s estate story.

Allison: Our collection of second market vessels by Lonnie Vigil bridges what we do at Patina with my own personal love of Native art. Upon moving to Santa Fe in the early 1990s, my parents developed a relationship with Lonnie and other great Native artists. They developed a passion for the Native arts and went on to create a significant pottery collection. In the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, they helped establish what is now the Buchsbaum Gallery of Southwestern Pottery: A study center for scholars, collectors, and visitors to the region. Having second market pieces by Lonnie in the gallery space connects me to my parents and my own personal passion for the craft. Interestingly enough, one of the gallery’s second market pieces from Lonnie was actually in my parent’s collection. It is now a part of Patina’s estate collection through one of our esteemed collectors.
 

Hours

8th of December, Sunday, 2 pm - 4 pm.
Lonnie Vigil. Object: Smallest Gun Metal Gourd Jar, 2007. Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.. 19 x 22 cm. Lonnie Vigil
Object: Smallest Gun Metal Gourd Jar, 2007
Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.
19 x 22 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lonnie Vigil. Object: Gourd Squash Blossom Style Jar, 2011. Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.. 26.7 x 21.6 cm. Lonnie Vigil
Object: Gourd Squash Blossom Style Jar, 2011
Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.
26.7 x 21.6 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lonnie Vigil. Object: Square Gun Metal Gray Bowl, 2004. Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.. 33 x 33 cm. Lonnie Vigil
Object: Square Gun Metal Gray Bowl, 2004
Gray hand coiled micaceous clay.
33 x 33 cm
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Lonnie Vigil. Object: Golden Fire Cloud Jar, 2005. Brown hand coiled micaceous clay.. Photo by: Lonnie Vigil. Lonnie Vigil
Object: Golden Fire Cloud Jar, 2005
Brown hand coiled micaceous clay.
Photo by: Lonnie Vigil
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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