ELMER GATES (1929-1990)

MOJAVE RED ON BUFF JAR circa 1980


There aren’t too many of these around. It’s one of the only two large jars by Elmer Gates that we’ve ever seen. Most of his pieces are six inches or smaller. Most observers would agree that Elmer Gates was the last celebrated Mojave potter, although Betty Barrackman was active on and off in the years since. He and Annie Fields were certainly the most prolific, and he, Annie and Betty are the only ones who reached any kind of celebrity. Elmer Gates lived on a joint reservation near Parker, Arizona, away from the main Mojave population center at Needles, California and made pottery that diverged a bit from the usual Mojave ware—better finished, not the usual Needles clay and kiln-fired. In our The Desert Southwest, we devoted pages 142 and 143 to Elmer, Annie and Betty and put this at the top of the big picture. This appears on page 143 of The Desert Southwest and on page 57 of our 2012 Pottery of the Southwest. By the way, a little sidelight: the majority of the tribe lives around Needles, and they voted to spell the tribal name Mojave. However, the smaller group on the mixed reservation near Parker where Elmer Gates lived decided to keep the Arizona spelling. So, despite what he wrote on the bottom of his jar, you could argue that Elmer made Mohave pottery.


NOTE: This was on display in an exhibit at California’s Museum of the American Indian from July 2009 to June 2010. It was in the Red on Buff case alongside ancient pieces whose designs it echoes.



8-1/4” wide x 8-1/2” high


Condition excellent


H-922      SOLD

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