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The Story of Willie Yazzie, World Class Navajo Silversmith

Hopi jewelry, where one piece of silver has a pattern cut out of it and is then inlaid on top of a second piece, was really popular. This overlay style was picked up by some Navajo artists, like Yazzie, but he was the best at it. 

Unlike the Hopi overlay artists, he did not stamp or engrave the bottom sheet of silver, but rather just oxidized it to create the contrast between the top and bottom sheets. 

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Historic Bandolier Bags and a Belt from the Ojibwe

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 6:58 PM

Historic Bandolier Bags and a Belt from the Ojibwe

The Bandolier bag was first created in the mid-1800's by the Ojibwe people of Northern Minnesota. They are also known as the Chippewa or “Anishinaabe” in their language.

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"The Return of The Raven"

Friday, January 27, 2017 4:49 PM

"The Return of The Raven"

John Moser was a man who knew at an early age that he wanted to be either an Indian or a cowboy. He was born in St. Louis in 1924 to an educated family. But John didn’t like school and preferred to hang out with the various Indian tribes then clustered in St. Louis, sometimes returning home dressed in feathers and skins, sometimes inviting his new friends to the dinner table—much to his mother’s dismay.

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Works of a Master Potter from Santa Clara Teresita Naranjo, “Apple Blossom"

The process of creating Santa Clara, or any other traditional Pueblo pottery, is exacting and challenging. From locating the clay source, digging it out of the ground, cleaning it, creating the pot by hand using the coil method, carving or painting designs on the pot, polishing it and then firing it under a pile of Pinon or sheep manure, it is a long process.
If everything is not done correctly, the pot may break when fired. If the wind comes up, the finish will not be perfect. It is difficult to make a simple basic pot, but creating a unique, elegant and technically perfect pot is very, very challenging. It is for these reasons that so few potters reach that level of artistry.

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Transitional Period Weavings

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 5:22 PM

Transitional Period Weavings

Navajo Weavings from the Transitional Period

One of the most interesting periods in the history of Navajo weaving began in the 1880’s and went through the first decade of the 1900’s. It is called the Transitional era because it marked the switch between the weaving of wearing blankets by Navajo women to weavings intended for sale.

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Noel All Day - All Night!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 9:24 PM

Noel All Day - All Night!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Durango's Christmas Shopping Season kicks off on Noel Day and Night, December 2nd, and runs from 9 am until 9 pm with special offers, raffles, entertainment and good holiday cheer, all around town!

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We Are Proud to Announce The Launch of our New Web Site!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 2:44 PM

We Are Proud to Announce The Launch of our New Web Site!

We Are Proud to Announce The Launch of our New Web Site!

We have, without any question, the best customers on the planet! To all of you who follow our newsletter and make it possible for us to share the great works of Native and Southwestern artists, we say "Thank You!"

We have never met many of you, but have gotten to know you through wonderful telephone conversations when you have called about our web site. We love it when people call to talk about pieces we have on the site or even to check the "real" ski report at Purgatory!

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Window on the Ancient World

Thursday, November 3, 2016 3:40 PM

Window on the Ancient World

In 1975, I was invited by the buyer from the University of California, Northridge, bookshop to do a week long trunk show, with Indian jewelry and Navajo weavings. This was during a time that turquoise jewelry was a hot commodity and it sounded like a great idea.

About a week before I headed West, the buyer called and said they had some requests for Native American paintings. At that time, we did not sell paintings, but I said, "Sure, we can do that." Then I had to figure out how.

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31st Annual Navajo Rug Sale & Silent Auction

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 4:35 PM

31st Annual Navajo Rug Sale & Silent Auction

If you are as tired of the election news as I am, you know that the best way to make yourself feel better is to come down to the Denver Post Building, 101 West Colfax, between 10 am and 5 pm and buy a Navajo rug!

Think about it. These are one of the great American art forms, woven for about 400 years by the Navajo people of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. These are honest, straightforward people who work hard. I mean, really hard. Your appreciate of their work makes their lives possible. It’s a fair trade, you get a beautiful piece of art, and they get to continue creating them while supporting their families.

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A Late Germantown Transitional Weaving

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 5:05 PM

A Late Germantown Transitional Weaving

Towards the end of the1800's, the Navajo had begun to adopt the clothing worn by the traders and settlers in the Southwest. The Navajo women moved from wearing the woven dresses and blankets that came from their looms and adopted the long velvet skirts and blouses that they were first exposed to by U.S. Army officer's wives while the Navajo were kept in captivity during the Civil War.

Men began to adopt the pants and shirts of the white man. Fashion was changing on the Navajo reservation and even the traditional Navajo blanket was being replaced by the Pendleton blankets sold by the trading posts.

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A sweet collection of "Small" Burnham Weavings

Monday, October 24, 2016 5:32 PM

A sweet collection of "Small" Burnham Weavings

If you have been following our newsletter a while, you know the story of the Burnham weavers. In a chapter house area south of Shiprock and across the road from Two Grey Hills, a group of five sisters, Anna Mae, Marie, Helen, Alice and Sandy, began creating unique Navajo weavings in the 1970's.

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Classic Jacla Earrings from Santo Domingo Artist Ray Lovato

“Jacla” is a Navajo word for “ear string.” Jacla’s are traditionally made with turquoise “heishi” which is essentially flat turquoise beads, hand ground and strung in strands, which were worn by Native people as far back as the Anasazi or “Ancestral Puebloans” as they are recognized as today.

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The Story of a Two Grey Hills Treasure Told by the Weaver

Thursday, September 22, 2016 1:00 PM

The Story of a Two Grey Hills Treasure Told by the Weaver

Ruth Teller was one of the finest Two Grey Hills weavers. She lived in a small place not to far from Newcomb on what used to be Highway 666. My dad used to stop and see her and I went with him a couple of times.

She had three daughters that also were amazing weavers. Two of them, Roseann Lee and Barbara Ornelas worked together to create a large Two Grey Hills tapestry that won the Best of Show at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 1987. It was the first Navajo weaving to win the award and it set a record price for contemporary Navajo weaving when it was sold.

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What's that Navajo girl doing making Hopi pots?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 6:51 PM

What's that Navajo girl doing making Hopi pots?

If you study the history of the Southwestern tribes, you’ll find that the Hopi and Navajo have not always been the best of buddies. Some of the animosity is long term, going back to ancient days, and some of it relates to more recent times. 

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0 Comments | Posted in Pottery

The Wonderful Weavings from Burnham

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 6:04 PM

The Wonderful Weavings from Burnham

We have received a lot of credit for being the traders who developed the Burnham area Navajo weaving designs. That, or course, is not true. The weavers from the Burnham area, specifically the Begay and Barber families, did not need anyone to help them create these wonderful pieces.

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United Indian Traders Organization and oral histories of the old time traders

Back in 1957, when my father, Jackson Clark Sr.,  started buying and selling Navajo weaving, he was also in the Pepsi Cola business. When he went to his first wholesale show, the Los Angeles Gift and Jewelry Show, the show manager asked him what his company name was. He told them it was the Jackson David Bottling Company. It was named after him and his partner, Dave McGraw.

The manager of the gift show told him she didn’t think anyone would buy Navajo rugs from a bottling company and suggested that he call it the Jackson David Trading Company. So he did.

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From Jewelry to Pottery The road from Zuni to Cochiti with the Covered Wagon in the Middle

Ben Eustace was born into the Zuni Pueblo sometime in the 1920’s. He became a well known silversmith who was essentially self taught. He did something unusual in the 1970’s when he registered a leaf design with the copyright office. His family still uses that style today.

Ben married Felica, a Cochiti Pueblo woman. I haven’t been able to find out how they met and in the 1940’s Cochiti was a long way from Zuni, but they did. They lived in Zuni.

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Stella Shutiva (1939-1997), Acoma Potter

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 5:37 PM

Stella Shutiva (1939-1997), Acoma Potter

Stella Shutiva was from the Acoma Pueblo which is West of Albuquerque off of I-40 near Grants, New Mexico. Potters from prehistoric sites in the southwest created pottery that had a corrugated look and feel. The outside of the pot is textured in rows where the coils circle the pot. Stella's mother, Jessie Garcia, is credited with being the first person to recreate this unique style.

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Navajo Weaving and the American Flag

Monday, August 15, 2016 5:33 PM

Navajo Weaving and the American Flag

The Harvey family lives north of Window Rock, Arizona, the Navajo Nation Capital. I don’t know when my Dad met them, but I don’t think I remember a time when he wasn’t buying weavings from Esther Harvey, the mother and head of the family.

 

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Santa Fe Indian Market Week!

Saturday, August 13, 2016 5:08 PM

Santa Fe Indian Market Week!

Toh-Atin Gallery will be in Santa Fe, Wednesday through Sunday, and will be showing the largest selection of Navajo weaving in town! We will also be featuring free lectures on Native jewelry and weaving!

It’s the biggest week in American Indian art as thousands of artists, dealers, collectors, museum directors, art lovers and more than a few crazy people, descend on this Northern New Mexico town!

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Storytelling to 112 Children

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 3:51 PM

Storytelling to 112 Children

Carolyn Sando, of Jemez Pueblo, has been a great friend and one of our favorite artists since she attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, over thirty years ago!

It’s hard to believe we’ve known each other for that many years, but it has been a pleasure. She is one of those people whose enthusiasm and smile are contagious!

In the fall of every year, she brings us a nice selection of her Nativity sets which are always a big hit. The individual pieces in each set radiate personality and it certainly makes you feel good to look at them.

Well, this summer, Carolyn outdid herself and brought in two really nice large storytellers. I am talking large!

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A Real Navajo Rug

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 3:48 PM

A Real Navajo Rug

One of my favorite events is when someone walks in the gallery and says something like, “Do you have any real Navajo rugs?”

Looking around at all of the weavings we have in stock, several hundred, I will ask, “What do you mean?”

“I mean the ones where they really did all their own work and made their own dyes, you know, before the white man got here,” is the type of answer I’ll sometimes hear.

 

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40 Year Old Art Collection

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 3:07 PM

40 Year Old Art Collection

In May of this year, a collector we have worked with for many years contacted us about a small collection of very nice Indian art that he had decided to sell. We picked the paintings up in Denver and are featuring them this Thursdaynight, along with a few other unique paintings we received about the same time. Most of these paintings were collected 40 years ago. They range in price from $250 to $2500.00 and include works by Pueblo Indian artists, Navajo painters and even a few Plains pieces.

 

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The Case of the Unknown Weaver

Thursday, June 30, 2016 3:29 PM

The Case of the Unknown Weaver

We recently picked up a collection of weavings from the 1980’s that were done by some very talented women. Most of them had tags on them so it was easy to identify the weavers. They came from a famous Indian Trading family in Gallup (by agreement I can share that name with the purchaser of the weavings but am not allowed to put it in print).

There is one vegetal dye weaving in the group that was obviously done by a talented weaver. It is unique as the design is a traditional Teec Nos Pos, an area where you seldom see vegetal dye colors.

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A Few Large Bracelets

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:48 PM

A Few Large Bracelets

We often get requests for bracelets that will fit large wrists and right now, we have a nice selection of good ones. Here are three Navajo style pieces that I thought you might enjoy seeing.

 

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Learning About Anthony Tallboy

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 4:16 PM

Learning About Anthony Tallboy

Navajo weaver and Medicine Man Anthony Tallboy came to the gallery yesterday with a beautiful Storm pattern.

We had been expecting him. He called on Friday to say he would have the weaving done by Monday. After he called, I started thinking about how long I’d known Anthony.


It had to have been at least 15 years, maybe more. He was a little thinner back then, but in reality, he is one of those guys who doesn’t seem to age much. He is always so stoic and quiet when he comes in that I make it my goal to get him to laugh. Once that ice is broken, we usually have a pretty interesting conversation.

 

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Navajo Rug Sale and Silent Auction, Saturday in Salt Lake City

On Saturday, June 18, Toh-Atin Gallery will be traveling to Utah for our Annual Silent Auction and Sale of over 150 Navajo weavings. It will be a fun and interesting day at one of the most beautiful museums in the country.

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Trading Turquoise with Ray Lovato

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 5:25 PM

Trading Turquoise with Ray Lovato

Ray Lovato is the undisputed master of traditional Santo Domingo hand rolled, natural turquoise heishi. For decades he has worked with the finest natural stones and created beautiful necklaces.

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Mae Jim's Ganado Red Weavings

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 5:50 PM

Mae Jim's Ganado Red Weavings

Many of you saw our Facebook posts, on May 23rd, about the two large Ganado Red weavings that were created by famed weaver, Mae Jim, in the 1980’s.

We took these two amazing weavings down to Ganado High School, where one of Mae Jim's nephews was graduating, and they were used as the backdrop for the graduation exercises.

The weavings are regularly taken out of our vault for their family celebrations and it is a special honor for us to be able to provide them for the family’s use.

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The Perfect Gift for anyone who loves Navajo weavings!

Sunday, December 20, 2015 5:32 PM

Mae was born around 95 years ago. Even she does not know for sure how old she is because no one recorded the date when she was born.

We do know that she has been at it a long time!

 

Our father started buying rugs from her back in the 1960's and we continue to do that today

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