Ceremonial Dancer, c. 1970 by J.D. Roybal (1922-1978), San Ildefonso Pueblo
Ceremonial Dancer, c. 1970, J.D. Roybal (1922-1978), guache on paper, archival framing with black wood frame, 8.75” x 7.5”
J.D. Roybal, whose first name was José, and whose Tewa name was Oquwa (Rain God), was a well-known Native American painter from San Ildefonso Pueblo. He was born on November 7, 1922 at San Ildefonso, the son of Tonita and Juan Cruz Roybal, and the nephew of two popular Pueblo artists, Alfonso Roybal and Awa Tsireh, the latter of whom taught him the traditional style of Pueblo painting.
J.D.’s paintings focused on dance ceremonies of the San Ildefonso, and were characterized by multiple figures (often including more than 50 dancers in a single painting). His most popular subject matter was his rendition of the Tewa Clowns known as Koshare or Koosa. Often he presented them in a jovial whimsical manner.
His creations as a painter began in the 1930s but he was not very prolific until the 1950s. He was most productive in the 1960-1970 decade.
J.D. Roybal used water-based paints throughout his career. His excellent detail in small paintings never went unnoticed. In his work there prevails fine color, excellent detail, small and fine outlines, gesturing figures, and a pleasing combination of heavy conventional themes with realistic subjects.
His devotion to traditional Pueblo painting made him one of the more important San Ildefonso painters. His works are included in such noted museum collections as the Museum of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff, AZ) and the Millicent Rogers Museum (Taos, NM).
The artist passed away June 28, 1978.