copyright Ricardo Cate'
Ricardo Cate's cartoons often feature a Custer-like Caucasian and an Indian trading barbs. Copyright Ricardo Cate'

Cartoonist Without Reservations: Ricardo Cate' Is One Funny Indian

Alex Jacobs

Ricardo Cate’ is from Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo) and he has found a little niche for himself in the art world of Santa Fe. He draws and paints cartoons, one panel at a time, and was picked up by the Santa Fe New Mexican, the local paper of the state capital. His cartoons are seen by 60,000 readers daily, he’s close to having 4000 of them published, and he’s the only Native cartoonist featured in a daily mainstream newspaper. This attention led to a recent book of his cartoons being published last year.

Actually if you add up all that he has done, his niche grows bigger. For the last year, he’s rented a downtown space at The Mercado on 114 San Francisco St, #104, he also sells at Indian Market, this year with IFAM and in previous years with SWAIA. He was also invited to the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa this October. Ricardo told me that he started as a nine- and 10-year-old selling his parents' art at the Palace of the Governors portal program, back when things were way different. He participates in his pueblo’s doings, dancing ceremony since he was a kid. As an adult he still loves to dance, just like at the recent Santo Domingo Feast Day on August 4th. That’s a very busy schedule but par for the course when you are among thousands of other artists trying to make a living in an art town like Santa Fe.

Copyright Ricardo Cate'

The book, Without Reservations, is selling, stores can’t keep it on the shelves ( has it) but he has yet to see any royalties. He is actually reluctant to discuss it, worrying that it may go against him. It sounds like he went in on promises, and as a first time author, didn’t read the fine print, trusting the publisher. That’s too bad because Ricardo Cate’ is a genuinely nice guy doing his best to help his family and so he is constantly working every day, all week. He started up the cartoon part of his art four years ago and used to love to commute from Kewa to Santa Fe on the Rail Runner train. He has a vehicle now, so he’s on the go a lot with his shop, where he also paints, and volunteering to teach kids, any kids, and of course tending to his own kids, dropping off and picking them up. He has self-published books and that effort went well, but now he’s at a loss trying to explain and understand this problem with his new publisher.

Copyright Ricardo Cate'

Ricardo doesn’t act stressed, he’s just busy all the time, painting his original cartoon art, dropping off art at the New Mexican, getting ready for Indian Market or another show. He teaches and shows kids his art, they come to his shop, see his cartoons and ask him to come to their schools and he never says no. He will drop everything, arrange his schedule to visit classes, most times for free, sometimes just for travel money. I must add that culturally, it’s not his people’s way to be boastful and he isn’t. It took me a lot to coax comments that weren’t about cartoons or kids.


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ashquab's picture
Submitted by ashquab on
BEAUTIFUL ..TRUTH fer a CHANGE .. even if it's in a cartoon state .. and I don't mean "america"

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Funny stuff and I'm sad for Richardo's negative experience with publishing. When he offers his book for sale through HIM, I will buy one, but I'm more about putting $ in the author's pocket than the publishing company.