- Going to the annual Navajo Marketplace at the Museum of Northern
Arizona is like a family reunion for many, though far, far more
year, Flagstaff's MNA hallways, courtyards and galleries are
filled to bursting with Navajo artists of numerous mediums, demonstrating
and selling their art.
year the Navajo Showplace took place the weekend of Aug. 2-3.
Nez was only one of several artists who expressed their affection
for the marketplace.
has exhibited at the museum often, and took the Best of Show award
in 1984. This year he has come as a guest. "It's good
to see people," Nez said. "The museum is like a grandmother.
Sometimes you leave home, you go through a lot in your life, and
you come home to visit her."
said that he was introduced MNA during the second annual Navajo
exhibition, back in 1979 or '80.
museum has nourished me," Nez added. "It's nice to
come back to visit. My feelings are still here, and, as always,
I am impressed with the integrity and showmanship displayed during
Al Bahe shares Nez's love of art and the museum.
means everything to me," he said. "It's how I make
my living; it's how I express my creative side."
has been painting off and on for 15 of the last 25 years, and said
he feels he's finally arrived where he needs to be in terms
of his career.
extraordinary attention to detail includes a great deal of research - demonstrated
in his interpretive painting of Navajo medicine man, Hosteen Klah.
Staring into the face of Klah as depicted by Bahe, one can't
help but feel this historical figure's good nature.
on the back of this intriguing painting, purchased by a local private
collector, is the history of how it was that Klah happened to be
standing on a wave-swept beach almost a century ago:
"Hosteen Klah, Navajo Medicine Man, 1927 at the Pacific Ocean,
Santa Barbara - a visit with Mary C. Wheelwright to the western
ocean where Klah collected water from the Pacific Ocean and carried
out a blessing."
much of the face of Klah was taken from photographs, his clothing,
his position on the beach, indeed even the water birds, are inspired
by knowledge, research and Bahe's imagination.
took second place for another of his vibrant acrylics entitled "Earned
of Flagstaff is another painter who has made his place in the art
world. He first displayed his work at MNA in 1979. Sculptor, photographer,
silversmith and writer, he is perhaps best known for his bold abstract
not consistent with one theme," Franklin said "I love
bright colors, used full strength."
comfortably in front of his work, "Visitation at the Ocean
Side," - depicting a slender young Navajo woman at the beach,
a parasol held protectively over her head - Franklin described
the visit to the beach in San Diego where he sat studying the motion
of the sea.
often draws on his travels and adventures as themes for his work.
He spent six years - from 1966 to 1972 - traveling throughout
the country. One memorable event was his participation in the occupation
of Alcatraz Island by American Indians in 1969. During this time
he said he had no inkling of the talent he possessed.
his return from California, Franklin enrolled in some courses at
Northern Arizona University, which he kept up "through trial
piece, "Ominous Moment" depicts an almost paranoid looking
blue face, and represents yet what Franklin described as another
"tangent of expression."
is different. I wanted to give it a try," he said. "I'm
not afraid to express my soul and push myself beyond my present
mind. It's life experiences that give me my ideas; they are
used to come to MNA's Navajo Showplace every year - until
attention there turned from Native American art towards dinosaur
exhibits, he said.
might say we were displaced by dinosaurs," Franklin chuckled.
with the museum's return to the tribal showplaces, Franklin
too has come home, so to speak.
Clark, who lives near the community of Cameron, admits early into
conversations about his work that he was afraid of the dark as a
child. Somewhere during this experience, Clark identified blankets
with security. This motif is reflected in his paintings, which typically
include faces peering from a dark background, illuminated it seems,
people - from young children to grandmothers and grandfathers - wrapped
in colorful blankets.
feature of Clark's work is that the people in his paintings
invite the viewer's attention by meeting their eyes - looking
straight out of the canvas.
has spent the better part of a year with his mother, Modesta Clark,
89 years of age, who he describes as very traditional.
is in good health, but she lives 15 miles off the road," he
said. "We agreed that I would come and spend one year with
year ends in October, when a brother will take his place.
gave up my possessions of luxury to spend this time with her,"
include his computer, his microwave and other electronic devices,
to live a physically demanding life that includes chopping wood
and hauling water. All he took with him were his clothes and painting
sabbatical revealed another skill Clark said he didn't know
he possessed. While there he built his mother a 12-foot square storage
shed. A family photo shows Clark standing atop the structure, beaming
trained graphic artist, Clark said that he has shunned that career
to create the luminous portraits he so loves.
"Painting won't let me go," he exclaimed.
Patrick Smith not become a silversmith, he would have made an excellent
architect. His contemporary jewelry is quite distinctive, especially
his work using a technique called hollowform. Some of these pieces
look quite massive, but because of the inner support structure,
are surprisingly light.
he admits he has no time to teach at this point in his life, he
was quite open in discussing different techniques with other would-be
silversmiths. A man full of surprises, Smith talked of how and why
he created different shaping tools - really, works of art in themselves
- and demonstrated how he used them. One resembles an elongated
undulating tadpole, whose curves helps Smith shape intriguing shapes
from mere squares of silver.
a small wooden box from under a table, Smith showed the segments
of an elaborate necklace formed of progressively sized squares of
thin sheet silver. The piece, true to Smith's work, was surprisingly
light yet sturdy. He said each segment took five hours to form - and
there were at least 40 pieces nested in the box.
in Ganado, Smith and his family relocated to Flagstaff, where he
initially studied computer programming, then received a business
administration degree at the University of Arizona. At that time,
Smith created jewelry using the traditional techniques he learned
from his family but slowly gravitated to the striking contemporary
pieces he is now known for.
holds a master of arts degree in jewelry and metalsmithing from
Northern Arizona University and has been awarded a fellowship for
excellence in artwork from the Southwestern Association for Indian
Arts and a Professional Development Grant from the Arizona Commission
on the Arts.
final artist this reporter visited with was old friend Dan Yazzie,
a Navajo Folk Art carver. This year, Yazzie brought home the Best
far as I know, this is the first time the Navajo Folk Art category
took best of show," Yazzie beamed. He also took second place
in his category.
the showplace came to an end, many satisfied customers strolled
out of the museum to catch a shuttle to their cars. Some compared
pieces or displayed them for the shuttle driver. Others were already
wearing their new works of art. All agreed on one thing, however - they
can't wait until next year's show.