Joseph Sanchez

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Joseph Sanchez (right) in a panel discussion with Gerald McMaster (left) and Paul Chaat Smith (center)

Joseph M. Sanchez (born ca. 1948) is an artist and museum curator.


Joseph M Sanchez is an American artist born in Trinidad, Colorado. He has roots in the White Mountain Apache Reservation and Taos Pueblo communities. Sanchez has been a leader in Indigenous and Chicano arts since the 1970s, and Joseph has worked with hundreds of artists. This co-creation has included creating work, exhibitions, and advocating for the rights of minority artists. This is seen most importantly in his work with the Professional Native Indian Artists (Indian Group of Seven).[1]

A spiritual surrealist, Joseph's work is sensual and dreamlike, provocative and thought-inducing.[2] Still producing work, and exhibiting across the United States and Canada, Joseph M Sanchez is simultaneously a community elder, and an instigator at the front lines of the battle for the creation of art and how we define it as a culture.[3]


Born in Trinidad, Colorado to Pueblo, Spanish, and German parents[4], Joseph Marcus Sanchez was raised in Whiteriver, Arizona on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. In 1966, his mother died. Soon after, in 1968 he joined the United States Marine Corps and was stationed in San Diego, California, where he trained soldiers drafted for the Vietnam War.

In 1970, Sanchez moved to Canada, where he met Ann Nadine Krajeck, a young photographer. They were married and lived in Richer, Manitoba, eventually purchasing a 20-acre farm in Giroux, Manitoba. In February 1975, Sanchez returned home to Arizona under President Gerald Ford's amnesty program. Ann stayed in Canada, and Joseph traveled back and forth until she joined him in Arizona in 1978.[5]

In 1981, Joseph and Ann had a daughter, Rosa Nadine Xochimilco, and they lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Joseph maintained a studio on Cattletrack Road.[6] During the 1980s, Sanchez developed a program as an artist in residence at Rosa's schools, teaching college level art history and technique to elementary school students. More than half of those students have gone on to become professional artists. His artist in residency program has developed, with time on several reservations and educational institutions. In 2018 he became the artist in residence at Portage College.[7]

Sanchez travelled for his work, and in 1990 began traveling to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he met Margaret Burke. In 1996 he made his Santa Fe residence permanent, and they had a son, Jerome Bonafacio Xocotl. Joseph and Margaret were married in 2006.

Joseph M. Sanchez still lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he maintains a studio and paints daily.

Artistic career

An artist from a young age, Sanchez began creating in 1956 with the encouragement of his 5th grade teacher Ms. Gutierrez. His first mediums were painting on glass and embroidery.[8] He continued to work, creating large portraits of family and friends, and in high school began to independently study art in the Renaissance, Surrealism, Dada, and Contemporary Art. His personal surrealist style formalized in 1968 during his years as a member of United States Marine Corps with a drawing on newsprint called the "Unconsummated Rape of Mongo."[9]

Sanchez lived in Canada from the early to mid-1970s, and was a founding member of the "Professional Native Indian Artists, Incorporated”, otherwise known as the Indian Group of Seven.[10] In Winnipeg he met Daphne Odjig, who had opened up the Warehouse Gallery in the early 1970s (now the Wahsa Gallery).[11] In 1971, Sanchez created a second version of the "Unconsummated Rape of Mongo" which Odjig purchased and used to create an offset print, officially starting his career as an artist.[12]

Along with Odjig, Alex Janvier, Norval Morrisseau, Jackson Beardy, Eddy Cobiness, and Carl Ray, Sanchez founded the PNIA, Inc. Indian Group of Seven in November 1973. The group was officially incorporated in February 1974. Although more than 50 artists had been invited to participate, it was only these seven that answered the call to come to Winnipeg.[13] Solo and with the group he has exhibited in group shows in Canada, Europe, and the United States. During this time, he was named by the Ojibway.[14]

In 1974, Sanchez was commissioned to create the painting "The Virgin of Light" to be given as the Juno Award for Multiculturalism in Music. The same year he was measured and photographed with the painting for the Toronto Wax Museum.

Sanchez returned to the United States in 1976, met new artists, forming new art collectives near Phoenix, the Movimiento Artistic del Rio Salado (M.A.R.S.), Azoma, and Artizlan. These groups were designed to help lead Chicano artists to collaborate and exhibit together. [15] In addition he helped create the National Association of Artist Organizations (NAAO) to benefit American artists on a national level [16]. With this focus on activism, Sanchez developed exhibitions, changed museums, and created artist in residence programs for schools, with a focus being on sharing these experiences with the Native American community, especially the youth.[17]

During the 1980s and 1990s, Sanchez embraced his career as a curator, but continued create art workshops for youth as well as paint and perform - including as indiodali [18]. In 1990, Sanchez visited Paris, which sparked an abundance of work, but despite occasional exhibitions, Sanchez time was spent supporting the careers of other artists.[19]

With his move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sanchez's work shifted in tone and color, adapting to the new landscape. In a new studio, Sanchez was able to return to large scale works, some measuring as much as 15 ft tall. Also drawing more frequently, the quality of work produced in the Santa Fe studio revealed his dedication to craft and technique. Joseph M. Sanchez still maintains his studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he paints daily.

Professional Life / Curatorial Career

In 1978 he began work at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts[20] as a security guard, becoming a gallery assistant in 1982. Soon Sanchez was recruited by the Phoenix Art Museum[21] as a preparator, where he remained from 1982-1984.

From 1983-1988, Sanchez ran his own business, ARTS, providing art preparation, crating, transportation, and curation for museums, galleries, institutions, collectors, and artists in the Phoenix, Area. It was through this that he met one of his mentors, Phillip C. Curtis for whom Sanchez served as an artist assistant from 1979-1999. In 1986, he returned to Scottsdale Center for the Arts as a contract exhibition designer and curator for "First Contact...the search," an exhibition about UFOs and the paranormal featuring astronauts and the crystal skull.

In 1989 Sanchez joined the Riva Yares Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona full-time, though he had been their registrar from 1977. He worked in Scottsdale, and facilitated the opening of the Riva Yares Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, now known as the Yares Project[22] until 1996.

In 1996 he became Director for the Laynor Foundation Museum.[23]

In 2001 he began volunteering for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.[24] He soon became their Exhibition Coordinator, later became the Chief Curator, and was acting Director until his retirement in 2010 at the IAIA Museum, now known as the Museum of Contemporary Native Art[25]. During this time he curated several shows, creating publications for "Relations: Indigenous Dialogue," which he edited with John Grimes[26], "Bob Haozous: Indigenous Dialogue,"[27] and "Fritz Sholder: An Intimate Look."[28]

In 2008, Sanchez was named the United States curator for the SITE Santa Fe Biennial, "Lucky Number 7," including an essay in the published catalogue.[29] In 2001, Sanchez was curator for "Native American Art at Dartmouth from the Collection of the Hood Museum," at Dartmouth College, including an essay in their book on Native American art coinciding with the show.[30]

Since retirement, Sanchez has continued to curate, but primarily returned to the studio full-time, and continues to exhibit in galleries and museums internationally.


  • 1975 Dominion Gallery, Montreal, Quebec (see Indian Group of Seven)
  • 1975 Wallack Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
  • 1975 Art Emporium, Vancouver, B.C.
  • 1990s Spirits of the Sun exhibition in Phoenix[13]
  • 2009 Perversions of the Curator:a minor retrospective February 13 – March 15, 2009[24][32]
  • 2014 7: Professional Native Indian Artists, Inc.[33]
  • 2017 Indigenous Changemakers: Ace, Belmore, Davidson, Houle, Morrisseau, Poitras, Sánchez
  • 2017 Anamesis: Joseph M. Sanchez and Janice Tanton [34]
  • 2019 El Zaguan Historic Santa Fe Foundation [35]


  1. "Museum of Surrey to host two-day festival of Indigenous art, culture, music this weekend". 8 July 2019. 
  2. "Joseph M. Sánchez – ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art". 
  3. "About". 
  4. "Joseph (Joe) M. Sanchez - Artist Biography for Joseph (Joe) M. Sanchez". 
  5. "Anamnesis: Joseph M. Sánchez & Janice Tanton". 
  6. "7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. Catalogue Preview". 
  7. "Artist in Residence at Portage College". 
  8. "Joseph M. Sanchez - Ahnisnabae Art Gallery - Roy Thomas". 
  9. "Native Group of Seven show engages the past, present and future". 
  10. "Art, Inc.: How 7 Native Painters Broke Through by Going Corporate". 
  11. "Wah-sa Gallery, Wahsa Gallery". 
  12. "Native Group of Seven show engages the past, present and future". 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Joe Sanchez - a member of the Indian Group of Seven". 
  14. "Archived copy". 
  15. "Movimiento Artístico del Río Salado (MARS) Records 1974-1992 Movimiento Artístico del Río Salado (MARS) Records". 
  16. "National Association of Artists' Organizations". 15 May 2019. 
  17. "Joseph Sanchez (Artists) - Strong Nations". 
  18. "Indio Dali". 
  19. "Index". 
  20. "Home". 22 October 2017. 
  21. "Homepage". 
  22. "Yares Art | New York Galleries | Manhattan". 
  23. "The Laynor Foundation Museum - A non-profit organization celebrating art through education". 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "404 > Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)". 
  25. "IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) > Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)". 
  27. Bob Haozous : Indigenous dialogue. 2005. ISBN 9781881396253. 
  28. "Fritz Scholder C4263K - Adobe Gallery, Santa Fe". 
  29. "Lucky Number Seven". 
  30. "Native American Art at Dartmouth | Hood Museum". 
  31. "Exhibitions". 
  32. "THE magazine March 2009". 
  33. "Art, Inc.: How 7 Native Painters Broke Through by Going Corporate". 
  34. "Anamnesis: Joseph M. Sánchez & Janice Tanton". 
  35. "Exhibition el Zaguán Opening: Joseph M. Sánchez Sacred Fire and Water Spirits". 

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