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Joe Cajero Jr
JEMEZ POTTER

Koshares capture all the delightful nuances of the pueblo tricksters. They clown, flirt, tease, and generally wreak havoc. Koshares are renowned for a well-developed sense of humor, and pueblo singers, dancers, and guests all know not to turn their backs on a Koshare during any feast day or celebration. A pueblo cross between circus clown and court jester, Koshares rarely fail to elicit smiles with their white and brown, broad-striped bodies, adorned only with loin-type aprons, beads, and the traditional jester like cap.

"The medicine of the Koshares stand for happiness. They talk all the anguish away and bless you with positive energy. No dance would be successful without the Koshares," Cajero explains. "And if I see a Koshare today, it is the same as seeing one from 1804. The Koshares haven's changed much."

A native of Jemez Pueblo, home is where sculptor Joe Cajero Jr. finds his inspiration. It is the people and setting of the valley of Jemez that provide not only pueblo legend and lore, but also the raw material of clay. "My mother taught me and showed where to look for creative capabilities: art doesn't come from mimicking books and other artists, but from your personal inner resources."

The clay also comes directly from the pueblo. When Joe needs more material, he doesn't drive to an art supply store down a trendy lane. Instead, he climbs the hill to the clay pit located on the Jemez Pueblo where he digs the amount needed for his next few works. Surrounded by views of the Jemez Pueblo Village and the mountains, Joe always offers an invocation before heading down the hill.

"We always say a prayer with corn meal to Mother Earth. The prayer lets her know that we are taking from her to create something beautiful which will support our lives and those of our loved ones."

Joe Cajero Jr. has delighted in art since childhood. He comes by his talent honestly with a long line of family artists: great-grandmother (pottery), father (painter), mother (potter and sculptor), sisters (one a ceramist and one studying art business), and brother (specializes in etching on stone pots). Joe also studied art and graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an A.F.A. in two-dimensional Art. His unique visions in clay of figures and wildlife have garnered recognition and awards at prestigious shows, including Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market in Indianapolis (First in 2004), and Santa Fe Indian Market (2008 Best in Division and Category). In 2014, Joe was selected by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture for a Living Treasures award.

Joe Cajero Jr., the young man and the artist, is much like his Koshares--generous and playful in the process of creating these delight makers, the Koshares.