We met Peter Ray James nearly thirty years ago. Not only is he an incredibly talented artist, he is an amazing human being, always reaching out to help other people.
We had our first show in the gallery for this Navajo artist back in 1990. He is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and also attended the Parson School of Design in New York. At the time, he painted large, colorful canvas paintings that dominated a space. He was a successful artist at Indian Market and the Heard Museum show. Peter had the world in front of him.
Peter Ray James
Then he ran into himself with some personal problems, quit painting and, honestly, we lost track of him. I couldn’t make phone contact, letters were returned and I honestly thought that whatever it was that was bothering him had stolen a great artist from the world.
Imagine how I felt about ten years ago when the phone rang and Peter was on the other end.
“Where have you been?” I asked.
We had a conversation and it’s not important to know what was going on with him during those years, but it is important to know what he does today. He will get in a car and drive across a state to spend some time with a friend or acquaintance that is having a problem. He checks in on people that he is concerned about. Peter is a good listener and he has the ability to spread happiness and give hope to people who are in real trouble.
He started back into the art world with “Fabric Art,” sewing canvas into the shapes of buffalo, horses and spiritual figures and painting them. They range in size, from Christmas ornaments to beautiful wall hangings.
He also does beautiful masks made of ceramics and brightly painted.
For years, we have been proud to offer these works to our customers.
But, we kept bugging him to start painting again. “Peter,” I said, “we don’t want you to quit what you are doing now, you are great at it and people love it, but you are a painter. Give it a shot.”
I am delighted to tell you that Peter is back at the easel! His first two pieces are based on the “Tree of Life” design and are beautifully done and framed. It might be a while until he finishes some more paintings, but it is clear he has not skipped a beat in the talent area.
His art has been on album covers, prominent art show posters, and numerous newspapers and magazine covers.
His celebrity collectors include Ahmad and Phylicia Rashad, Ted Danson, John Bon Jovi , and Wynonna Judd. "I am known among my Navajo people as Nahat'a Yilth Yil--Wood one who delivers the message." It is my Navajo name that braids many generations of prayers, symbolism, tradition, honor, knowledge, and love. I truly believe my destiny is to be a storyteller through my artist endeavors. I am always honored and respectful to represent my family name in my homeland and abroad".
We are happy to have Peter’s paintings in the gallery again. I hope you like them as well l
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Jackson Clark II