José Rey Toledo (Shobah Woonhon)

b. 1915 –Jemez Pueblo,
d. 1994 –Jemez Pueblo, NM

José Rey Toledo was a contemporary of Allan Houser and other Native American artists who were part of the New Deal art. Dorothy Dunn’s Design School produced a large number of Native American students whose work is stylistically similar. Toledo’s influence came more from his cousin Velino Shije Herrera, who taught at the Albuquerque Indian School, (and who was a Dorothy Dunn student.

José Rey Toledo lived and worked in California during World War II. He returned to New Mexico to teach in the Indian schools in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He was an active member of the pueblo watercolor movement, using this versatile medium that is closer to traditional Native American media and allowing for portability and spontaneity of execution. José Rey Toledo balanced his creative career with his full-time job with the U.S.Public Health Service (and later with the New Mexico Health Department). His work gained popularity after his death and with the renewed interest the artists of the New Deal era in the 1990s. José Rey Toledo’s importance as an artist is that he preserved a visual record of his pueblo’s activities, as seen through an insider’s eyes. His work could be seen as a Native American version of genre painting.


Albuquerque Indian School
1955 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM Master’s Degree


1949-1957 Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian schools


National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK
The Museum of Western Art, Kerrville, TX
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK
Great Plains Art Museum, Lincoln, NE
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, OK
Federal Art Project (1940-1941)
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
McKinley County Courthouse, Gallup, NM (formery part of Red Rock State Park Collection).