‘The Stone Speaks To Me and Tells Me What It Wants To Be’
Upton Ethelbah, Jr. (Apache/Santa Clara Pueblo) continues to serve notice of his arrival on the Southwest art scene. Ethelbah’s award-winning sculptures have launched him to the top of collectors’ lists world-wide. Best in Bronze Sculpture 2006 Santa Fe Indian Market, Named 2009 Living Treasure by the Museum of Arts & Culture Santa Fe NM, Best in Stone Sculpture 2009 Santa Fe Indian Market.
Ethelbah was born to a White Mountain Apache father (loosely translated, Ethelbah means Greyshoes in the Apache language) and a Santa Clara Pueblo mother. Raised with the ceremonies and arts of two proud cultures, the artist’s early careers nevertheless took him away from his traditions.
After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1971, he embarked on a career in education and social work. Ethelbah served under three important institutions in New Mexico: the State Department of Education, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the All Indian Pueblo Council. Under the Council, he served as the director of student living at Santa Fe Indian School for 14 years, until his retirement in 1998.
Greyshoes’ first bronze, “Pueblo Corn Dancer” taken from a mold of a soapstone and marble piece, won first place at the Indian and Spanish Art Market in Colorado Springs and third place at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Another bronze, “Song of the Corn Dance”, took a first place at the Sharlot Hall Museum show in Prescott, Arizona. At Santa Fe Indian Market in 2004, “Shalako” was to receive recognition and in 2005 he repeated receiving honors for the enlargement of “Shalako". Ethelbah’s diverse vocabulary of three dimensional themes is inspired by a strong connection to his mother’s and father’s people, respectively. Contemporary interpretations of his native Southwest Indian culture project a distinctly clean, clear voice, while vibrant patinas are his hallmark.