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Placitas couple recognized for their artistic excellence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Native Treasures: Indian Arts Festival has announced that artists Joe and Althea Cajero of Placitas have been chosen as the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Living Treasures for 2014. This is the first time in the 10-year history of the show that the award has been given jointly to two artists. The MIAC Living Treasure award is given in recognition of artistic excellence and community service.

Joe and Althea Cajero have been named this year’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Living Treasures.

Joe and Althea Cajero have been named this year’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Living Treasures.

Renowned bronze and clay sculptor Joe Cajero is from Jemez Pueblo and jeweler Althea Cajero is from the Kewa and Acoma pueblos. It is rare that a married couple share studio space, and even rarer that they together receive such a distinguished award. The couple married eight years ago.

“The feeling is overwhelming gratitude that both of us are being recognized with the MIAC Living Treasure award at the same time,” says Joe Cajero. “We feel very humbled.”

Joe Cajero has been creating clay originals in traditional Jemez clay and limited-edition bronze sculptures, including a few monumental commissions, for decades. His works are highly sought after by collectors. Althea Cajero began her art career more recently. In her jewelry designs, she integrates cuttlefish-bone castings with beautiful turquoise, jasper, agate, coral, natural shells, pearls, gold and silver.

Although the Cajeros daily give each other inspiration and feedback, they had never jointly designed anything before creating the Dragonfly bracelet specifically for Native Treasures. The piece is a silver, cuttlefish-cast cuff bracelet fashioned by Althea with a sculpted silver dragonfly by Joe.

Both Joe and Althea come from artistic families. Joe was raised by a painter father and potter mother revered in the Native art community. He attended the Institute for American Indian Arts, and was awarded a top prize at Santa Fe Indian Market when he was only 16. Althea’s parents were both well-known and respected Native jewelers.

Native Treasures: Indian Arts Festival benefits the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and has become one of the most important Indian art shows in the United States. More than 200 museum-quality artists from more than 40 tribes and pueblos will showcase and sell their pottery, jewelry, glass, paintings, sculpture, carvings, textiles, and other art on May 24-25 at the Santa Fe Convention Center. The Cajeros will be honored at the preview party from 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 23, also at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

For this 10th anniversary of the Living Treasure award, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture will honor every artist who has won the award. These artists are some of the biggest names in the Native American art world, and include Robert Tenorio, Mike Bird-Romero, Connie Tsosie Gaussoin, Upton Ethelbah Jr., Lonnie Vigil, Roxanne Swentzell, Tony Abeyta and Tammy Garcia.