San Felipe Pueblo artist, Fernando Padilla, Jr. was recognized during the 35th Annual Red Earth Festival as the 2021 Red Earth Honored One. Since its inception in 1987, Red Earth has selected an artist whose support of Native art has been substantial throughout his or her life for this annual recognition.
This award is given to someone who has had a significant influence on the Native art community; To one who has continuing involvement, activity, and participation in their art form.
The list of previous Honored One award recipient includes some of the world’s most honored and recognized Native artists. Past honorees include Archie Blackowl, Allan Houser, Dick West, Anna Mitchell, Doc Tate Nevaquaya, Mike Larsen, Charles Pratt, Enoch Kelly Haney, Benjamin Harjo Jr., Jeri Redcorn and Harvey Pratt to name a few.
Paula Cagigal, Red Earth President, stated “We are honored to have eight recipients of the Honored One award also participating in the Festival this year. They include Mary Aitson, Les Berryhill, Clancy Gray, Ruthe Blalock Jones, Patta LT, Nelda Schrupp, Daniel Worcester and Gordon Yellowman.”
Born in Huntington Park, California, Fernando Padilla Jr. grew up in various places in New Mexico and Arizona due to his father's job with the U.S. Forestry Service. He moved to Oklahoma in 1978. Best known for his painting of the Southwestern landscape and Pueblo life, Padilla also creates multi-dimensional artwork, sculpture, and jewelry.
Padilla graduated from Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque, NM and attended college in Albuquerque, NM. He later transferred to Bethany Nazarene College in Bethany, Oklahoma.
His work has been featured in museums throughout the world including the Dallas Museum of Art, Story of the Sacred Hoop Exhibit in Stuttgart, Germany, Millicent Rogers Museum, Institute of the Franco-American Exhibit in Renes, France, the Denver Art Museum, Museum of the Great Plains, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM and in the collection at the Red Earth Art Center.
His mural entitled “Spirit of the People" is on permanent display at the Denver International Airport. He was selected as one of ten artists by Western American Indian Chamber to create site-specific work for the airport. Chosen to illustrate Native American life during the Anasazi Period, Padilla's mural shows a panoramic view of a cliff dwelling community.