Sunday, August 24, 2008

Elephant Man

Sandy and I enjoyed the annual Santa Fe Indian Market this year like two young children at a State Fair. We circulated from booth to booth observing, discovering, absorbing, and establishing contacts with many Native American artists. One of the absolute highlights came with our discovery of Darrell Jumbo, the Elephant Man. I had just finished a careful overview of Dina Huntinghorses' high end, gold laden jewelry pieces; as I rounded the corner I noticed a distinctive tall, lean faced Navajo man with a prominent pony tail dressed in a top hat and tails. His pants were informal sterling silver studded shorts. Beaded conchos held dangling backward leaning feathers at both shoulders. He wore boot moccasins. I thought I was in for a treat when I heard him discussing one of his pieces called "Damn Sam." As I moved forward to listen intently, he flashed his broad smile. He said the inspiration for his comic creation "Damn Sam" was from his childhood years when he and his buddies would steal vegetables from a neighbor's farm patch and hide in his irrigation ditch to consume their purloined fresh harvest with salt and pepper garnish. The farmer never caught on and blamed the "damned rabbits" for his crop loss and so it was that rabbit Sam was one who had to endure the stinging wrath of the farmer's BB gun. On hearing this tale, I so wanted the sterling silver "Damn Sam", but the man beside me had arrived first hand and pulled out cash to seal the deal. Fortunately, Mr. Jumbo had several other creations and I chose the 18K gold nosed "Oh Dear" pin to carry home. Having noted the enthusiasm Sandy and I showed on discovering his art, Jumbo talked with us at length. I finally extended my hand in friendship as a prelude to my exist, but he appeared to ignored it. Instead, much to our delight, he stepped out of his booth and gave us both a big bear hug.

Darrell was most fortunate to have received his initial silversmithing training under Master Silversmith Norbert Pleshlaki. It was Norbert who gave him his artisan name, Elephant Man. His hallmark is an elephant symbol as shown in the image above.