Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

Although many of the CLAY Festival shows and retrospectives will continue in downtown Silver City galleries, the final demonstrations took place Saturday, July 17, 2021.

The streets of downtown bustled with visitors and residents alike visiting the Makers’ Market, enjoying the music, chatting with new and long-time friends, going into galleries, and making Silver City the place to be.

Kids and adults alike created their own original clay sculptures at the Make and Take table. Clay pots, birds, simple slabs with writing or designs, trees, you name it, someone made it that day and went home happy to have followed the creative urge.

Several solo exhibits and retrospectives in galleries welcomed visitors. Others hosted demonstrations to show the public how creative clay art is developed.

Leyba and Ingalls Arts featured the work of Claude W. Smith III. The Grant County Art Guild Gallery featured a couple of their member clay artists. Sterling Gallery hosted a solo exhibition by Letha Cross Woolf. Light Art Space, which hosted the juried art show, had several shows going at once: Ruminations, the juried art; local clay artists and a demonstration in the courtyard. Other galleries with shows include LV Studio, Soul River Gallery, Wild West Weaving, The Tatianna Maria Gallery and the Silver City Museum.

At Blue Dome Gallery, two artists demonstrated vastly different works, using different techniques. They were Michael Kanteena and Lorraine Gala Lewis.

This author had the privilege of interviewing one of them. Kanteena, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, said: “Clay was a huge accident for me. In high school, I was not at all interested in art or sketching or anything like that. I thought my career would in wildlife, such as a forest ranger or biologist. I had picked out the university and the program I wanted to attend in Washington state. I was a senior in high school, and my cousin, who was a very good self-taught artist begged me to go to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales with him, where he planned to study art. So, I agreed to join him. The school had a very good art department with a rocket designer and a famous watercolorist among the professors. I signed up for Art 101. My cousin quit after the first semester, because he couldn’t handle the different cultures. My art professor encouraged my talent, and the school brought out my latent talent. I graduated with a degree in painting and graphic arts. And I haven’t stopped creating since.”

All the while he was talking, he was shaping an almost triangular bowl, but then he flattened a slab of clay about the same shape and joined it to the bowl shape, closing the shape, by quickly using a flat tool to smooth the joint. He explained that he was creating a bird shape and would do the neck and the head separately and put them all together. 

[Editor’s Note: It appeared to this author that Kanteena was using his art to continue his love of and interest in wildlife.]