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BORN OF FIRE: THE POTTERY OF MARGARET TAFOYA, by Charles S. King, Museum of New Mexico Press, 160 pages, 88 color and 10 black-and-white illustrations, $45

CONTEMPORARY QUILT ART, by Kate Lenkowsky, Indiana University Press, 304 pages, 142 color photographs, $34.95

SOUTHWESTERN INDIAN JEWELRY: CRAFTING NEW TRADITIONS, by Dexter Cirillo, Rizzoli International Publications, 240 pages, 220 color and 25 black-and-white illustrations, $55

Regarded as one of the great masters of Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001) is known for her trademark large black polished ceramics, decorated with traditional imagery of rain clouds, water serpents, bear paws and other symbols.

In "Born of Fire," writer Charles S. King, a recognized expert in the field of pueblo pottery and owner of King Galleries of Scottsdale, Ariz., offers an insightful biography along with a detailed, color photographic catalog of 75 works, photographed by Duane Reider.

The book also features family photographs from the unpublished personal collections of the artist's descendants. King interviewed many of these individuals who are masterful artisans themselves; they recount in interesting detail the events of Tafoya's life and her art.

Of her 10 children, eight continue in the tradition of making Pueblo pottery, and many grandchildren are also following suit.

As with all publications coming out of the Museum of New Mexico Press, this book is masterfully designed, solidly stitched and printed on excellent stock, which allows the color photographs to sing.

It is a definite keeper and can be found in bookstores after June 10.

In quiltmaker/author Kate Lenkowsky's "Contemporary Quilt Art," she educates readers with remarkable verbal and visual dexterity; she alters our perception of quilts, converting us to the religion of quilts as art.

It is a revelatory experience.

In her preface she queries, "Why choose cloth and quilts over paint, stone or metal, the artistic media that fill our art museums and galleries?"

An excellent question that is skillfully answered as she escorts us through the life and work of 19 contemporary quilt artists.

The accompanying vivid color photographs of the artists' quilts is enough by itself to make you want to own this publication: Each photograph vibrates with crispness and saturated color. Indiana University Press deserves praise for what it has put together.

After the section on the artists, Lenkowsky gives readers an overview of exhibition and marketing opportunities, lists of art quilt organizations, a lengthy guide for quilt buyers and collectors, how to commission a quilt, how to hang a quilt, appraisals, insurance and more.

Available in bookstores beginning in June, "Contemporary Quilt Art" is, for this reader, an exquisite opportunity to alter your perception of what a quilt can be.

This book is a perfect example of what an art book should be. Printed by Rizzoli International Publications, "Southwestern Indian Jewelry" features more than 80 jewelers from 18 tribes, including Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Apache and Rio Grande Pueblo peoples.

Author Dexter Cirillo (a woman) divides the publication into three chapters: silver and metalwork; lapidary art; and objects and sculptural jewelry. Each chapter is awash with impressive color photographs of the Southwest landscape, the people who live and work there, and jewelry of the American Indian artists. Photographer Addison Doty should be praised for her images.

Cirillo, who conducted personal interviews with the artists, sheds light on the cultural traditions behind the craft and designs of the jewelry, making the book an invaluable resource for the sophisticated collector and novice alike.

"What is so captivating about Southwestern Indian jewelry?" she asks in the book's text. "For one, it is singularly beautiful. The many colors of turquoises, corals, greens and purples are magical. ... In our post-modern age of instantaneous communications, there is something comforting about a piece of jewelry that has been handcrafted by labor-intensive hammering, filing, stamping, grinding and polishing."

The publication is a work of beauty itself and hits the bookstores in June.


E-mail: gag@desnews.com