The Canvas Side of Leland Holiday

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 8:55 AM

The Canvas Side of Leland Holiday

Leland Holiday was born into one of the most famous families in Navajo basket making but it was never something he was interested in learning. 

“I didn’t want to make baskets,” he says. “But I always knew I wanted to be an artist.”

He and his brother, Roger Armstrong, became well known as folk artists before they graduated from high school. It was a chance encounter with folk art dealer Jack Beasley of Farmington that got them started. 

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Miniature Navajo Looms by Vercinda Begay

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 8:35 AM

Miniature Navajo Looms by Vercinda Begay

One of the happiest people that we work with is Vercinda Begay from Two Grey Hills. She has been weaving for over 20 years but is best known for her miniature looms with all the weaving tools and yarn.

These looms are built of cedar and finished to be great display pieces in your home. 

We received a new one recently that has a completed weaving of blanket based on the old wearing blanket styles that I thought was particularly attractive. While the weaving are small, and the loom is only 11” x 13”, the blanket is woven in the same way a large rug would be.

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How Cozy McSparron went from Boxer to Indian Trader and the Weaving that started Sallie Lippincott on the road to Wide Ruins

In 1936, Sallie Wagner Lippincott and her husband Bill moved to the Navajo Reservation as National Park Service employees at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. 

One of the first people they met was Leon Hugh (Cozy) McSparron who was the Indian Trader at the Thunderbird Ranch (which is now the Thunderbird Lodge and is owned by the Navajo Tribe) at the mouth of the Canyon.

Cozy was born in Gallup in 1892. His parents were from Scotland. They sent him to school in Denver where he became a boxer, and a pretty good one. On returning to Gallup, the story goes that he was in a boxing match that was attended by Hartley Seymour, who owned the Thunderbird ranch. Seymour had a neighboring trader who apparently made it a habit of coming over to the Thunderbird and beating Seymour up.

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Two Charming San Ildefonso Pots ca 1890 - 1910

Friday, February 28, 2020 1:36 PM

Two Charming San Ildefonso Pots ca 1890 - 1910

The Anasazi, or “Ancestral Puebloans” as contemporary anthropologists refer to them created pottery for utilitarian uses beginning about 200 A.D. They cooked in it, stored food in it, ate and drank from it. And, as anyone who has spent much time looking at the pottery from Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon or any of the early living sites of the early inhabitants knows, they spent an inordinate amount of time and effort decorating these vessels with beautiful designs. 

As the need for utilitarian vessels declined, replaced by pots, pans and modern storage containers, the production of handmade pottery declined. 

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The "Olympic Power Suite" by John Nieto

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 1:26 PM

The

When the Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City in 2002, one of the most popular attractions for people from all over the world was the exhibit on Native American cultures and lifestyles. The organizers of the Olympics made a special effort to highlight the tribes of Utah and the Southwest. 

One of their efforts was to work with John Nieto, an amazing artist of Navajo, Mescalero Apache and Hispanic background to commission a wonderful set of Serigraphs that highlighted Nieto’s bold use of primary colors. It was called the “Olympic Power” Suite that included three images highlighting the athletic performances of the event.

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The Burglary, The Navajo Hand Trembler and How to Keep Your Hands from Chapping

Many of you know that two years ago in September we had a burglary at the gallery in Durango. It was a big one. The thieves broke in through a skylight window from the roof, dropped into the offices, ran down the stairs, smashed three showcases that had our expensive jewelry in them and were out the emergency fire door in less than a minute. 

We had to close the gallery while the police gathered evidence. Then we had to clean the place up and set up procedures to identify the stolen merchandise for the police and the insurance company.

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A Necklace Made with a Unique American Turquoise

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:03 AM

A Necklace Made with a Unique American Turquoise

In the 1970s, when the #8 Turquoise Mine in Eureka County, Nevada was closing, Jeanette Dale was soldering circuit boards at the Fairchild Electronics Plant south of Farmington, New Mexico. 

The mine, located north of Carlin, Nevada, has produced some of the most notable turquoise ever found. It was first mined in the 1920s and went through several hands before ending up with T.G. And J.W. Edgar. The brothers were looking for copper when they discovered a unique spider web turquoise with a light blue to green coloration. In the 1950s, they found one nugget that weighed 150 pounds!

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Jake Dalla, Tommy Jackson and Gold and Silver from Silverton

I was a couple of years behind Jake Dalla at Durango High School. He was a cool guy. He had a sharp car and he was always nice, even to underclassmen!

This fourth generation Durangoan came from one of the many early Italian families that settled in the Durango area. One of his goals in life was to create a wildlife park and recreation area in honor of his parents. In 2006, the Dalla Mountain Park became a reality. 

Jake was always working. At 19 he was driving a Holsum Bread truck but soon started his own business, a company that worked with machinery and mining. The family had several mining claims around Silverton, Colorado that they acquired early on. Jake had a feel for the mining business and loved the mountains. 

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Two Beautiful Blankets based on the Durango Collection

Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:30 AM

Two Beautiful Blankets based on the Durango Collection

Many of you who follow our newsletter are aware that we are in Durango, Colorado, the home of Fort Lewis College and the Center of Southwest Studies.

The Center is the home of the Durango Collection, representing 800 years of weaving in the Southwest. It was put together by Mark Winter and Jackson Clark Sr. The living collection, which is constantly being added to, was donated to the Center by Richard and Mary Lynn Ballantine of Durango.

The Durango Collection is one of the finest of its kind. Two blankets from the Collection have been chosen by Pendleton to be the first of their “Preservation Series” honoring early Navajo weaving.

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How One of the Navajo Nation's Most Important Artists Got His Start

Acts of kindness are usually done without any thought of personal gain or any idea of what they could lead to. Sometimes they are simple, solitary gifts; sometimes they can change a life. 

Jimmy Toddy was born in 1928 near the Wide Ruins Trading Post in Arizona. As a young child, he developed an interest in drawing, initially copying and adding to rock paintings found on the canyon walls near his home. 

When he was in grade school, he met Bill and Sallie Lippincott, the trading post owners at Wide Ruins. He was the kind of kid who was always drawing something, and the couple wanted to encourage him.  They set up a small table in the trading post and provided him with paper (usually pieces of butcher or wrapping paper) and colored pencils.

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The Story of the Wide Ruins Weaving

Saturday, September 14, 2019 2:51 PM

The Story of the Wide Ruins Weaving

“From Debutante to Indian Trader,” is the story of a woman born into a privileged life in Wheeling, West Virginia who ended up buying the Wide Ruins Trading Post in 1938, at the age of 32, and transformed the art of Navajo weaving. 

Prior to the arrival of Bill and Sallie Lippincott at Wide Ruins, vegetal dyes were an exception in Navajo weaving. 

The couple was responsible for creating a new style of whose impact was felt across the reservation. 

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Sioux Warrior Doll c. 1910

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 2:25 PM

Sioux Warrior Doll c. 1910

Dolls have been a standard toy since the beginning of the human race. It doesn’t matter where you look in the world, from the courts of Europe kings to the Plains of Asia and America or to the vastness of Africa, anywhere there has been civilization, people have made dolls for their children. 

Few dolls were ever made with the love, care and attention to detail that the Sioux, and other Plains tribes did. As you can imagine, creating a beautiful doll from scratch required a little more dedication than a trip to the local toy store or a shopping trip on Amazon!

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