|Joe Herrera Herrera (1921-2001),
born into a rich art inheritance through his father’s pueblo of Cochiti
and his mother’s pueblo of San Ildefonso, was painting before he
entered the Indian School in Santa Fe. His mother, Tonita Pena
(Quah Ah), gave him thorough training in art techniques.|
As a painter, he was somewhat of a rebel because he was "one of the
first of the Indian artists to move away from traditional
representational art into the more abstract forms of self expression."
According to Clara Lee Tanner, “Herrera developed three outstanding
traits which are reflected in his work—one in which there is a
perfectly delineated single dance figure, the second a dance group, and
third an abstract style utilizing native designs. In his
execution of the group and single dance figures, there is no competitor
for perfection. Often he has used a colored paper to complement
the tones in which his subjects are painted. He further enhances
the excellent color contrasts by doing very fine work.”
The mediums he used for his artwork were oil, acrylic, watercolor,
pencil, ink, pastel and casein. He also did mural painting, and
has work at the Santa Fe Indian School and Maisel's Indian Trading Post
In 1968, Herrera had a radio program from Santa Fe whose purpose was
to serve as an information center for his pueblo. This was one of
the activities that distracted him from his painting career, something
that those persons supporting his art career regarded as unfortunate.
He died September 26, 2001 and is buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery - Section 1 Site 172.
Clara Lee Tanner, Southwest Indian Painting
Patrick D, Lester, The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters
Birth and death date courtesy of Mark Mulholland.