In 1983, when we first moved into our “new” gallery space, we were approached by several Navajo artists selling “Folk Art.” At the time, I was not real interested in it.
Bad mistake! What I didn’t realize was that these artists were really on the cutting edge of a new trend in Native American art. Twenty years later, folk art had become an established and important part of this genre with featured artists being shown at top museums around the Southwest.
We did not venture into the field until about 10 years ago when we started working with Leland Holiday, who had been one of the early folk art stars. A couple of years ago, Delbert Buck came to see us. He had been a compadre of Leland’s back in the early days, doing art shows around the country and creating wonderful whimsical portrayals of Native people and animals in unique situations. Delbert, so to speak, thinks out of the box, and he always uses humor in his work.
He was born in 1976 and by the time he was 9 years old he was creating sculptures out of “found” material. He worked with tree roots, branches, old lumber and just about anything else he could find.
His father, Wilford Buck, was an artist and recognized the talent in his son. He introduced Delbert to a folk art dealer from Farmington, Jack Beasley, who hosted Delbert’s first show when he was only 13.
To describe his work is a challenge. It is humorous, brings a smile to your face and catches your concepts of reality drifting to another dimension.
Picture a sheep piloting an airplane, a Navajo riding a carrot or a space shuttle or a long horned steer or driving a race car with a dog sitting next to him!
One of his early inspirations came from comic books that showed him there was a different reality in some people’s minds.
He was a featured artist in Chuck and Jan Rosenak’s groundbreaking book, “The People Speak-Contemporary Navajo Folk Art” and is recognized as one of most respected artists in the field.
also worked as a physical therapist, an auto mechanic, a bull rider and an
electrician. His love is carving and creating works that make people feel
We have a number of his pieces on our web site and receive new ones every week! If you have a whimsical idea you’d like to see in Delbert’s work, send us an email and we’ll shoot it at him. He might try it, he might not.
Sometimes he does.
Earlier this year, a young woman saw a folk art
piece of a Navajo man in traditional clothing riding a rabbit. She and her
boyfriend owned a pet rabbit and she wondered if Delbert would carve an image
of her boyfriend riding a rabbit. It took awhile but working from pictures of
her boyfriend and the rabbit, it all came together. The girl, the boyfriend and
the rabbit all liked it!
We don’t have room for a lot of folk artists, but with Leland and Delbert, we feel like we are offering two of the best! We hope you like them as much as we do!
You can see Delbert's work on the website here.
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