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Picuris Indians

Picuris Indians, Heese Waldrum Studios, 1988

“This videograph is a glimpse of some of the most intimate, unrehearsed moments of the Picuris Indian people at the site of their ancient pueblo hidden in a ‘Shangri-La’ setting in a high mountain vallery in the Picuris Mountains of north central New Mexico. The mountains were named by the Spanish after this Indian tribe who occupied them. The people refer to themselves as the ‘people of the hidden valley.’ They speak an ancient language called Tiwa.

The village, occupied continuously for almost 800 years, consisted in early historic times of three great apartment buildings, recorded by the Spanish as being seven to nine stories hight, the tallest recorded by any Spanish in the Southwest. They were occupied by 3000 Picuris who today number less than 300 people.

The fact that Picuris Pueblo was not discovered by three early Spanish expeditions into the Rio Grande Valley remains an enigma to historians. The Picuris were finally, to their chagrin, discovered by Gaspar Castaño de Sosa on a freezing winter day (January 13), 1591. Having heard of prior Spanish treachery, the Picuris would not let him enter any of their buildings, driving him away with hurled stones.

The scenes in this videograph are not the usual dances viewed by tourists. These are dances and drum choruses performed in the vicinity of their sacred ceremonial room, the kiva, when few outsiders are around. The dances are done for the people in all their sacredness and enjoyment. In making this videograph the Picuris role was not a passive one as they guided the photographers to photograph important aspects of the ceremonies for future generation preservation.

This artful videograph is the result of hundreds of hours of recording over a period of five years. There is a special dividend for the viewer with a discussion of the 1776 Picuris adobe church, church construction, and the role of Catholicism by Harold Joe Waldrum, one of the foremost protectors and painters of ancient churches in New Mexico.”

— Herbert W. Dick, Ph.D.

Navajo Artist R.C. Gorman

Navajo Artist RC Gorman - copyright 1987, Heese Waldrum Studios

“When I started to make this videograph, I had intended to do a serious study of a beloved and famous artist who I believed was a consummate gentleman. The only thing, of which I was sure, was that it would be serious and not funny. Well, it did not work out. If you leave out the hilarious, fun-loving, gregarious R.C. Gorman, you miss the point of this wonderful human being. You miss the essence of Navajo. I decided to structure the story toward those persons closest to Gorman: his household manager, Rose Royball, his agent and gallery manager, Virginia Dooley, his personal secretary, Rosalie Talbott and his Aunt Mary who was with him during his formative years on the Navajo Reservation. Aunt Mary was his first sculpture teacher. Every time it rained, they would make sculpture from the mud. You will hear thoughts from his Aunt Marietta, who helped and lent him support while he was getting an education in Flagstaff and from his sister, Donna Scott who lives in Many Farms, Arizona. There are sensitive stories from his father, Carl Gorman, retired professor of the University of California at Davis and a statesman of the Navajo Nation.

This videograph is about work. You see Gorma working with his models in his studio just north of Taos, New Mexico. You see him working with his lithographer, Peter Holmes at Origins Press in Tucson, Arizona. You discover the complexity of lithography. You get glimpses of Gorman in his ceramic studio. You see him signing the molded paper pieces, the ceramics, the lithographs, and the prodigious out-pouring of work that it takes to satisfy the demands of his audience. It is narrated by Virginia Dooley. After experiencing the plethora of activity, I found it necessary to end this videograph with the serenity that no one can get close to except by viewing his work, the artistry of R.C. Gorman.”

— Harold Joe Waldrum, 1987