Art •  American Indians and Southwest

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Awa Tsireh: Pueblo Painter and Metalsmith

Diana F. Pardue
Norman L. Sandfield

Alfonso Roybal, better known as Awa Tsireh (Cat Tail Bird in the Tewa language), was born in the small pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico, in 1898. He became arguably the finest Native American painter of the first half of the twentieth century. To date, the authors have documented more than four hundred of Awa Tsireh’s paintings in numerous private collections and more than thirty museums. Awa Tsireh’s metalwork in silver, copper, and aluminum is a completely different story. This book brings together more of his metalwork than has previously been shown in one setting. Awa Tsireh created jewelry, platters, and other serviceware at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where he worked with other Native metalsmiths, many to date unidentified, in the summer months during the 1930s and 1940s. Rarely has Awa Tsireh’s metalwork bought by Trading Post visitors made its way into museum collections. Awa Tsireh’s recognizable and charming imagery and the quality of his hand and imagination, however, illuminate all of his pieces. His metalwork is further evidence that the Pueblo artist’s talent transcended medium, material, and milieu. This book will coincide with an exhibition at the Heard Museum November 3, 2017 through July 15, 2018. Published by the Heard Museum.


Diana F. Pardue is curator of collections at the Heard Museum, where her work has included historic and contemporary Native American arts. She is the author of numerous books including Shared Images: The Innovative Jewelry of Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird and Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary Artistry, co-authored with Norman L. Sandfield.

Norman L. Sandfield is an internationally known collector and antique dealer in Chicago who has specialized in fine antique and contemporary Japanese toggles known as netsuke for more than forty years. He has been a collector for all of his personal and professional life. This is his third book and exhibition in collaboration with the Heard Museum. The first, Old Traditions in New Pots: Silver Seed Pots from the Norman L. Sandfield Collection, written with Tricia Loscher (2007), featured the work of over seventy Native American artists. This led to an award-winning book with curator Diana F. Pardue, Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary Artistry (2011), updating the history and art of the bolo tie.

Published By Heard Museum

8.5 x 10.25 in. 160 pages 233 color photos