Sunday, February 1, 2009

In Pursuit of Cody Hunter

When asked who is the best Native American silversmith of all time, the name Cody Hunter instantly rolls from my tongue. I had seen only images of his work until my Hopi trip yesterday. We know where he lives and have tried to get in contact with him to buy directly, but without success. I do not know of anyone who carries his work in New Mexico so my pursuit has been an exercise of frustration. Much to my relief, I found a wholesaler on Saturday who carries Cody's exquisite silver and gold work. It's expensive so I couldn't buy all that I was shown, but at least the one buckle again gives me representation of his work. Cody seems to be living the good life at the mouth of Canyon de Chelly, one of the most beautiful scenic areas in the world. He grew up riding horses that idyllic setting and now enjoys his avocational specialty of rodeo team roping. The buckle above is amazing. I measures a diminutive--at least by cowboy rodeo standards--3 x 1 3/4 inches. It is designed for belt sizes up to 1 and 3/16 inches in width. The petroglyph figures and sun are 14 K gold fill. The amazing aspect is the story teller central area which involves 5 separate layers of silver overlay and depicts in miniature a Navajo scene that has become increasing rare as the Hogan has given way to trailer homes and prefab housing. I just marvel at the detail he brings into such a small area. Layers of clouds, sand stone formations of that area made famous by the ones seen in Monument Valley, the fire and cooking canopy, juniper tree, goats, mounted rider, and 3 individuals sitting by the fire. He even includes a rabbit and yes, if you look carefully in the door of the Hogan the ubiquitous reservation mutt. Wow, what an artistic treasure! I'm sure I'll be going back for more. Price $1,000 This buckle is my #1 candidate for find of the year for 2009.