Mary and Lory Lovato, two New Mexico artists whose jewelry is regularly sold at the Kilgore American Indian Art gallery in Mancos, presented their work in person for the first time on Sept. 30.
The two drove from their home in Santo Domingo Pueblo near Santa Fe in order to open a special jewelry display at the gallery and attend the Mancos Arts and Crafts Fair. The two also brought work by Mary’s son Isaac, who wasn’t able to make the trip. Mary Lovato, Lory Lovato’s grandmother, said jewelry craftsmanship has been in the family since her father, Joe Reano, whose picture is displayed in the Kilgore gallery.
The three generations of the Lovato family make similar styles of jewelry, using shells and stones to create mosaiclike patterns on necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other accessories. But each of them is inspired by something different. Many of Mary Lovato’s pieces feature irregular rectangular patterns, which she said were inspired by the windows and doors on Puebloan ruins found in Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Canyon National Historical Park. Her favorite items on display at the Kilgore gallery, she said, were her hand-shaped pendants, which represent healing.
Lory Lovato, on the other hand, draws much of her inspiration from flowers. Most of the jewelry she brought was made with copper and silver and features images of roses and other floral designs.
“It’s a modern look, but it’s still traditional pieces,” she said. “Different ages, they’re into different things.”
All three artists tend to put a corn-shape design on the back of their jewelry, to represent their connection to the Keres tribe, which highly values corn.
Gallery manager Kelly Kilgore Chilcott said she has known the Lovato family ever since she was young and her family ran a trading post in Tuba City, Arizona. She regularly displays their work at her Mancos gallery, but Mary Lovato said this was the first time the artists had presented an exhibit there themselves. She and Lory Lovato both work out of their homes and sell their work at various trading posts and galleries around the Southwest.
Mary Lovato said she hopes to keep the art in her family, even though most of her children and grandchildren have other jobs, unlike her and her parents when they started making jewelry.
“That was our only income in those days,” she said. “Now, when we pass it on to them, they’ve got to learn to be still and work.”
Lory Lovato said she believes the craft will keep going for a fifth generation. She has started to teach it to her son, Kyren, who came to Mancos with her. He is part of the reason she prefers to work at home, she said.
“It’s good for the kids ... to see you at home doing stuff,” she said. “I’m waiting to see if (Kyren) picks it up.”
The Lovatos’ jewelry is still on display at Kilgore American Indian Art, 100 W. Grand Ave., Mancos.