Maria Samora Goes To Market

I have featured Maria here on taoStyle before.

Maria’s jewelry is minimalistic and elegant. Her sculptural designs along with her masterful gold and silversmith techniques are strikingly eye-catching; they are also very distinctive. Her style is uniquely her own.

Though half Native, her father Frank Samora was from  Taos Pueblo, Maria Samora’s pieces are not traditionally Native American, but they are grounded in the natural world.  She grew up very close to where her studio and showroom are house, and in fact still lives in the “hood” where she and her husband, photographer Kevin Rebholtz are raising their own kids.

A stone’s throw from the Pueblo, she recalls her father Frank riding his horse to see his “other” family on the outskirts of town.

Maria’s mother had come to Taos during its hippie heyday ;like so many other free-spirited young Americans, and had fallen in love with Frank Samora, who was immortalized in Frank Waters’ seminal Taos book, “The Man Who Killed The Deer.”

“He had a whole other life there,” she smiles. “But he came to see us all the time.”

That life, that deep connection to this land, this place, continues to  inform and inspire her work. 

I visited Maria in her new space recently. When William of William 2’s hair salon moved to Albuquerque, Maria and Kevin jumped on the opportunity to expand the space they had been in for years, to include a showroom for Maria’s renowned jewelry.

The open, light and white washed studio, with decorative motifs by Kristen Bortles, bears no resemblance to its former self; tastefully appointed with mid-Century Modern pieces mixed with rustic finds that nod to the artist’s roots, it’s the quintessential  high/low Taos style that serves as the perfect foil for Maria’s “not so precious”designs.

Although forged from the most luxurious metals and stones – she uses diamonds as liberally as turquoise – these are pieces meant to be worn. Day and night. There is nothing too precious or for that matter, pretentious about them.

This weekend, Maria’s in Santa Fe, one of the stars of SWAIA.

Maria Samora’s first Santa Fe Indian Market was in 2005, and since then she has become one of its “stars.”  In 2009, she was chosen as the poster artist for SWAIA’s Indian Market.  She was the youngest to have ever received such distinction as well as the first jeweler, and one of only three other women selected in the market’s 88 year history. 

After college, Maria’s apprenticeship with goldsmith Phil Poirier, had  put her on the path of no return. Maria discovered her passion. The skills she learned there she continues to use – an arsenal of techniques, often combining metals such as sterling silver with gold that she alloys herself and hand forges. 

Her attention to detail is flawless and shows in the meticulous craftsmanship of the pieces. Finely wrought and always with clean lines and that elegant restraint. She is wearing several pieces the day we meet. A few rings – gold and silver – are worn on several fingers, some stacked, some alone. It looks great with her laid back, luxe style.

She has on a pair of silk joggers, a lurex top and snake – skin slides – very chic, young mum look. As we chat, her teenage son Quentin comes over  to ask her something. He’s working in the showroom a few days a week, a summer gig.

A heavy yet delicate appearing latticed cuff rests on her wrist. She is wearing earrings also, and a pendant but none of looks too much. I compliment the cuff, and she removes it, handing it to me. I feel the weight of the oxidized silver. I mention it. Her jewelry is not only beautiful it is made to fit  perfectly when worn.  

“I like to wear my pieces,” she explains, “to be sure it fits just right.   “It might be an amazing design,” she says “ but if it doesn’t lie right or feel right people won’t want to wear it.”  

As for her many fans who come to “Market” each year to see her latest collections? Well, they will be thrilled to discover her newly expanded Studio and Showroom, just a stone’s throw from the place her ancestors have long called home, where they can visit after the weekend’s over in case there’s something the regret not buying then! 

And for those of you who have not yet seen Maria’s treasures, now there’s no excuse!

For more on Maria Samora’s exquisite work,  please visit her site linked below.


All photographs by Kevin Rebholtz