Encarnacion Pena Watercolor “Basket Dancers” P311

Encarnacion Pena watercolor “Basket Dancers”. Listed artist from New Mexico, in the Mid 20th Century. Dated 1933 on back. Artwork measures 20 x 20 1/2.

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Peña was a student of Dorothy Dunn at The Studio of the Santa Fe Indian School in the early 1930s. He had, however, started painting earlier, as early as the 1920s, and continued until his death in 1979. His complete name was José Encarnación Peña and his Native name was spelled SoqueenSoqweenSo Kwa a Weh, translated to Frost on the Mountain. Those who remember him in his later years recall that he was called Enky (pronounced “inky”).

Peña was painting at San Ildefonso at the same time as Tonita Peña, Ricardo Martinez, Luís Gonzales, Abel Sánchez, and Romando Vigil. He was not very productive in the early years but became so about ten years before he passed away. He is represented in the collections of the Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe; Museum of New Mexico; Denver Art Museum; and many others.

Soqueen’s attention to detail was meticulous and his renderings of figures were sensitive and delicate. His paintings reflect a more realistic approach to painting what he saw and knew from pueblo life, than a more artistic approach for decorative purposes.

This painting of the Basket Dance displays the emotion he felt about his subject and his careful attempt to depict it realistically, expressing his intuitive response to the dancers being painted.