James King was a Navajo artist from Shiprock, New Mexico. He was obsessive about his painting and seldom took time away from it. His family shared that he took his easel from the studio to the living room to the kitchen, or wherever he was when he was on a roll.

He excelled at realistic art. His large oils would stop people in their tracks when they passed his booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market. And he didn’t try to please people with his subjects. He painted Navajo life, in good times and bad. I watched people at Indian Market shed tears while looking at his portrayal of the Long Walk and I saw people smile at a painting we had in the gallery of a family building a hogan.


He lived in Durango part of the time and was an avid athlete. He rode the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic; a 54 mile climb over two 10,500-foot passes between Durango and Silverton. And he did it well. In fact, people that knew him said he did everything well and with purpose.

This sweet small painting was purchased at the Gallup Ceremonial by a collector from Wyoming in the early 2000s.

Small or large, he put his heart into his paintings. This is a fine example.