A small family was going to be visiting the Four Corners and they wanted to do some studio visits on the Navajo reservation. Since I had put one together last year which involved seven studios I figured the ground work has already been done so it shouldn’t be a hard thing to do. I made some phone calls to artists in the area to see if there was interest. The plan was stitched together from the time they were coming and how long they were going to be spending in the area. I just needed a day and half for all the studio visits.
Day one of the tour started off by picking up the tourists at their hotel in Farmington. The fist stop was at Gloria Emersons studio in Hogback which is West of Farmington on your way to Shiprock. Emerson is a Four Corners contemporary artist. She paints, writes poetry, owned and ran a gallery in Shiprock which is now closed, lectures and has been in several exhibitions around the area. The last exhibition that just came down was at the Henderson Fine Art Gallery at San Juan College in Farmington. It was a very successful show a big attendance at the opening resulting in a lot of red dots. During the studio visit Emerson talked about what she was currently working on and ended with a poetry reading for the family.
Gloria Emerson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next stop was at Eugene Joe’s studio in Shiprock. Joe works with sand in his art making process. He calls himself a sand artist. He showed the group how he learned the process from his father who was also worked with sand painting. I loved his story on how he didn’t find collecting the sand the best part of the job. He had to go out with his father and collect all the different colored sand from all over the Four Corners. After the sand was collected it had to be sifted to get down to a fine quality sand which was used in the art making. Since sand painting is used in ceremonial events and are considered very sacred the art that Joe makes is modified so it doesn’t look exactly like the sacred designs used in the ceremonies.
Eugune Joe can be reached at email@example.com.
The next stop on the studio tour was with James Joe. Joe is a contemporary painter and his work is mostly themed on social injustice on the reservation. He works in a studio and lot of Navajo artists would love to have a hogan as a studio. He does a lot of art shows around the area to sell his work. He also teams up with Eugene Joe and the teach workshops on painting murals in schools around the reservation. He and Eugene are also a part of the Shiprock Historial Society which is a group that’s preserving the history of the town of Shiprock. They put out a magazine once a year that has stories about the town of Shiprock.
James Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last studio stop of the day was with Roy Kady who lives in Teec Nos Pos which is close to the New Mexico and Arizona boarder. His studio is on the Arizona side. Kady is weaver who is always mentoring new students wanting to learn the weaving process. He raises his own sheep and the wool from the sheep which his incorporates into his art supplies after they’ve been sheared, dyed and spun into yarn. One of Kady’s biggest achievements is winning the 50th Annual Anniversary Ribbon prize at the The Heard Indian Market. His other big achievement is all the mentoring he has done over the years with the young weavers. The majority of Kady’s dyes are collected from plants around his area. We got a great treat when he revealed a big piece he was working on that is dedicated to his mother. He has a photo of his mother sitting inside the corral as one of the sheep came walking up to her and take something from her hand. The weaving was a pictorial weaving of the image. Kady said he learned the technique from French weavers that were teaching a workshop in Santa Fe. The piece is in memory of his loving mother.
Roy Kady can be reached at email@example.com.
Aztec Ruins Monument
The next day started with a stop at Aztec ruins for a private tour. The ranger giving the tour went over the history of the site and she talked about the other ruins around the area and the connections between them.
There was a little time before the group had to leave for Santa Fe so we stopped over at Ambrose Teasyatwho. He has a studio/gallery in downtown Aztec. Teasyatwho is a wood carver and has had that studio for as long as I can remember. He had just gotten back from Albuquerque after having surgery so he was still in recovery but back at it again in his studio. He talked about his work and showed us some finished pieces. I had visited him a few years ago for a video interview and he has just started working with some new pieces that were wall hangers. They were Hopi Kachina designs that I fell in love with. I had never seen anything like them and they just felt so new and fresh. I was glad to see he’s still making them and he can’t seem to keep them in stock which is a great issue to have.
After the last stop the group packed up and left for a few days in Santa Fe heading home to California.
Ambrose Teasyatwho can be reached at 505.701.9259