Considered a true master silversmith, Quintana was one of the most innovative and technically proficient metalworkers of the 20th century. He was introduced to metalsmithing as a shipyard welder during World War II. After the war, he returned home to Cochiti Pueblo and began his career as a silversmith. In ethnologist John Adair’s landmark 1944 study of Southwestern silversmiths, he wrote: “At Cochiti there are five smiths who do work for a company in Santa Fe and bring their work into town periodically. Joe Quintana is one of the most successful of these smiths. He reported that he had made $1000 from working silver during the last year, working at his bench from 9 to 10 hours a day.” Quintana apprenticed with renowned jeweler Frank Patania and worked in numerous shops including Gan’s, Packard’s and Simpson’s in Santa Fe and Maisel’s and the Covered Wagon in Albuquerque. In 1966 he became the main silversmith at Irma Bailey’s Indian Arts & Pawn on the Old Town Plaza in Albuquerque. While at work in Irma’s shop, Joe was a magnet for tourists who delighted in watching him – whether soldering an intricate piece at his bench or twisting silver wire on the pole outside the shop’s front door. With Bailey’s encouragement, Quintana traveled throughout the country in the 1970s and early 1980s doing special shows of his impressive silverwork. After his death, the prestigious Santa Fe Indian Market instituted the Joe H. Quintana Memorial Award for Excellence in Traditional Jewlelry. Quintana’s exquisite craftsmanship, attention to detail, and clean designs make his pieces timeless examples of classic Native American jewelry.
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