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Joe Cajero :: Bio
 
"My creative energy is often spiritual in nature. Each of my sculptures invariably represent some aspect of praise and appreciation for life's beauty. Since my Pueblo religion restricts the realistic unveiling of ceremonial life, the challenge is to use abstract art to represent the sacred; images that specifically capture a reflection of my spirituality and expressions of my intercession with the Creator."
-Joe Cajero

BIOGRAPHY

Joe Cajero, Jr. was born in 1970 in Santa Fe, New Mexico and raised in the Pueblo of Jemez. He is a descendant of a long line of Pueblo artists, including his father, a painter, and his mother, Esther, a potter. As a child, Cajero would often accompany her to Indian art shows throughout the Southwest. On the road as well as in her small shop in Old Town, Albuquerque, the young Cajero learned from his mother, the business of marketing ones art and was challenged to try a creative form he never guessed he'd be known for today, clay and bronze sculpture. While growing up, Cajero also had the privilege of spending many hours with his maternal great-grandmother Petra Romero, listening to the wonderful stories she would tell of times gone by. Her stories provided him with a solid foundation in his traditional culture and it continues to influence the work he does today.

Cajero knew early on he would be an artist and assumed he would follow in the lines of his father and become a painter. At fifteen years of age, while sitting in his mother's shop one day, bored, she convinced him to take a piece of clay and try to create something out of it. That something turned out to be a small bear figure. That first figure sold the same day before it had even dried. This was a good sign for a young artist. His mother encouraged him to continue work in clay. Cajero made several more bear figures and sold them. Eventually those bears began to stand upright and take on human characteristics. Hands emerged from claws and faces began to form. Cajero knew then, he had graduated to the next level.

In 1990, this next level took him to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe after high school, where he studied two-dimensional art, with a few classes in traditional pottery making. His mentor and cousin, Felix Vigil, was teaching there at the time and provided the young artist with priceless insight, "He taught me how to look and where to look inside myself, so that I didn't have to draw from other artists in order to find inspiration. I admire the work of other artists, but I look only to myself to create." Although Cajero continues to make the smiling koshare figures he is internationally known for, he is not one for complacency. He constantly strives to satisfy his need for fresh ideas and subject matter by challenging himself to try new techniques and imagery. Cajero received his Associates of Fine Arts Degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in May of 1992.

Cajero has been creating clay originals and limited edition bronze sculptures for more than 17 years now, including a few monumental commissions. He enjoys working with commercial clay and traditional Jemez clays, as well as, the process of selecting the patinas (colors), which are used in the finish of bronze sculptures. This has led to the opening of new creative doors for the artist. "It seems I've been developing my skills in clay to lead me to work in bronze, and working with bronze has enhanced my skills with natural clay." He is also creating a line of jewelry castings inspired by images taken from his bronze sculptures. He is excited about the creative possibilities that each medium has to offer. Cajero resides with his wife in the small community of Placitas, New Mexico. In his free time he enjoys workouts, golfing, and camping trips.


AWARDS
2014
Living Treasures Award - Native Treasures - Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico

2013
Santa Fe Indian Market, First Place, Bronze Sculpture

2009
Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market, 1st Place, Bronze Sculpture
Ft. McDowell Indian Market, Best in Classification
Ft. McDowell Indian Market, Best in Category

2008
Santa Fe Indian Market, Best in Division, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Bronze Sculpture Sept.
Albuquerque Arts Business Association, Albuquerque Local Treasures Artist Award

2006
Sharlot Hall Musuem Show Prescott, AZ, Judges Choice, Bronze Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, Best in Division, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 3rd Place, Bronze Sculpture

2005
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Bronze Sculpture under 36"

2004
Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, Best in Division, Bronze Sculpture
Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, 1st Place, Bronze Sculpture
Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, 3rd Place, Bronze Sculpture

2002
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Bronze Sculpture under 36"
The Philadelphia Craft Show, Best of Native American Exhibit
New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts Assoc., 1st Place in Sculpture

2001
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture

2000
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Bronze Sculpture

1999
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture
Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture

1998
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture

1997
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture

1996
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture, Koshari Category
Santa Fe Indian Market, 3rd Place, Clay Sculpture, Single Piece Category
Southwest Indian Art Fair, Southwest Indian Art Award of Merit, Clay Sculpture

1995
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture

1994
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture, Multiple Piece Category
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture, Single Piece Category
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture, Nativity Scene Category

1993
Santa Fe Indian Market, Katherine and Miguel Otero Award for Creative Excellence (in any category), Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture, Storyteller Category
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture, Koshari Category

1992
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture

1991
Indian Nations Rendezvous and Trade Fair, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture
Santa Fe Indian Market, 1st Place, Clay Sculpture

1990
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Clay Sculpture
Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial, Best in Category, Clay Sculpture

1989
Santa Fe Indian Market, Honorable Mention, Clay Sculpture

1988
Heard Museum Art Show, Special Achievement Award, Painting

1987
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Pen and Ink Drawing
Eight Northern Pueblos Art Show, 3rd Place, Drawing
Eight Northern Pueblos Art Show, 3rd Place, Watercolor

1986
Santa Fe Indian Market, 2nd Place, Painting
Colorado Indian Market, 1st Place, Painting

FEATURED IN PUBLICATIONS

Ohnuma, Keiko: Cajero Draws Line Between Freedom & Tradition, The Sandoval Sign Post, Vol. 20, No. 8, Aug. '08
Green, George M.: Joe Cajero Leaps Into His Soul, ABQ Arts, Vol. 8. No. 4, May '04

Fauntleroy, Gussie: Joe Cajero Jr - Celebrating Pueblo Traditions & Humor in Clay & Bronze, Southwest Art, Jan. '01

EXHIBITIONS

Sept. '08 - Jan. '09
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Exhibition Title: Walatowa Sculptors: Shaping Our Stories

May '04 - March '05
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Exhibition Title: "Contrast in Bronze" in the Arnold and Doris Sculpture Garden.
Monumental Exhibit of Embodiment of Prayer and Nurtured by Prayer

COMMISSIONS

2012 Mesa Verde National Park Visitors Center, Colorodo, Monumental Grandfather Storyteller

2008 Southern Ute Tribe, Colorado, Monumental Sculptures of Two Horses for the Sky Ute Casino

2007 Jicarilla Apache Tribe, New Mexico, Monumental Sculptures of Go-jii-ya Foot Race