Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction

About 3pm or a little before, food vendors start igniting their fires and Navajo weavers begin queuing up to register their rugs at the Crownpoint Elementary School House each month on rug auction Friday. Buyers need not arrive before 4pm; that's when the rug viewing officially starts and bidder card numbers are set out for pickup. Since there are no restaurants or lodging facilities in Crownpoint, it is a good idea to pack a picnic lunch or better still to just chomp down on some hearty Navajo quick cuisine from one of the several food booths located on the school grounds near the entrance to the auction. Sandy and I selected our sustaining supper from the Navajo family that offered the menu shown here. We found the burger a bit lacking, but the warm fry bread was highly refreshing.

Happily enough, the school gymnasium hallway was packed with Native art products. We bought one artist's entire table of magnificent rug-design beaded necklaces. And we were delighted to meet up once again with Marilyn Ray, a renowned Acoma potter who specializes in traditional handmade Acoma storyteller creations. Sandy insisted on collecting the storyteller pony (price $500). It was actually made by Marilyn Ray's sister, Judy Lewis. They are two of five close Acoma sisters all of whom produce pottery in the traditional manner of their ancestors without resort to modern shortcuts such as employing the use of commercial paints and pigments or electric kilns. Instead, they dot their palettes with their own color formulations derived from local natural products and they fire their pottery in outdoor pits fueled with sheep, cow, or horse manure unlike many modern day Pueblo pottery artists who now rely on the electric kiln and commercial paints. Around 7:10 the auction began and continued for the next two and one-half hours. It took us two trips to haul our rugs to the car, but we were finally on our way by 10pm for the 60 mile trip home back to Gallup. We yearn to return.