Back in the 1990s when Leland Holiday was in his early twenties, he made a name for himself as a Navajo Folk Artist. That was all well and good, but Navajo Folk Artists didn’t make enough money to support themselves. It was hard work creating clever and attractive folk art, but people were not interested in paying a lot of money for it. It was cute but not deemed to be real art.
Leland had the advantage of having had a perceptive art teacher in high school who, recognizing his talent, exposed him to all kinds of work, from classical paintings to cubism. This teacher was really what all great teachers are, innovative and perceptive and watching to see how to help a student find their way.
When Leland began painting works to sell, money was tight and he didn’t have the cash for canvases. Instead, he painted on boards that were intended for sand painters.
We recently received three lovely paintings from this time on consignment and when Leland walked in the door last week, he broke out in a big smile.
“Man, I used to buy those boards for 15 cents apiece at Broadway Pawn.”
It was and is a store in Farmington, New Mexico.“How much did you sell them for?” I asked.
“Whatever I could,” replied Leland with another laugh.
Today, Leland still paints on board, but it’s not the 15-cent variety! He also stretches his own canvases and many of those paintings sell for several thousand dollars.
These three paintings provide an exceptional glimpse of the early talent of this artist. They are beautifully composed and created with a loving hand.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was to be an artist,” Leland says.
Looking at these early works, that is obvious.