New Mexican Bulto

New Mexican Bulto

Height –  15 1/2″ without original base        Width – 4 5/8″

Attributed to Jose Benito Ortega (1858-1941)

From collection of John Dewar

He was the Curator of the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History and the Southwest Museum. He was born in Pasadena, CA and graduated from the College of Mexico City in the early 30’s and then moved back to the Los Angeles area to begin his job as curator. He also traveled to the Hopi Pueblos and over to the Santa Fe area in 1934 and then up the coast of N. California around 1935. Most of the items he collected there were Yurok, although most of his ethnographic collection was given to the Southwest Museum in 1941. After he retired, he moved to Patagonia, Arizona until he passed away in 2004. Fifteen years after I bought my first item from his collection (a classic late 18th Cent. Saltillo Serape), I bought the remainder of his collection, which included this New Mexican bulto.

This bulto was originally collected by Mary Hunter Austin – an early writer of nature in the American Southwest. She helped establish the Spanish Colonial Art Society in 1925 with artist Frank Applegate.

It has condition issues – missing one arm and part of another. This bulto is mentioned in her book “The Land of Journey’s Ending” written in 1924. She originally bought it for $50.00 in the early 1930’s and said she must have been pretty destitute to spend that much money.

Wonderful item with impeccable provenance.