Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Golden Dawn- Pablita Velarde Part I
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 11:18

The first time I met Pablita Velarde was at the Eight Northern Pueblos. These consist of Nambe, Okay Owingeh (San Juan), Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque. Pablita Velarde was born in the Santa Clara Pueblo, which is two miles south of Espanola. Born September 19, 1918, her mother died when she was about five years old.

When I first met her she was sitting in her booth signing her book. I was captivated by her paintings especially one called Abstract Eagle. It was summer of 1994. I had moved from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, to a house that was completed in September 1993. It was a house that I had designed. It was my creation, a culmination of all my fantasies of designing my own home, one that no doubt started when I was very young and carried forward by reading Architectural Digest, first in the library in graduate school, and then with my very own subscription starting in 1977 when I graduated and got my first professional counseling job.

The painting was done in natural pigment with colors Velarde ground herself from minerals and rocks. I purchased it "on time" and faithfully made my monthly payments until at last in November or December of 1994 I called her and told her I was ready to make my last payment.

"Come to my house and get it," she told me. I drove down to Albuquerque with my heart sister who wanted to meet her. When we got there, Pablita had her shoulder in a sling. I helped her carve a ham for her family dinner, a special occasion. We spoke in normal everyday conversation, no airs about her although she was known worldwide and had won many awards including being the first woman to receive the Grand Purchase Award at the Philbrook Museum of Art's Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art. In 1954 the French government honored her with the Palmes Academiques (The Order of Chivalry for Academics, Culture and Educational Figures) for excellence in art.

Return soon to read more about this wonderful Native American artist and the Gallery where Pablita, her daughter and grand-daughter's works are featured.

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