Sunday, September 16, 2012

Navajo Portrait Pendant 1

Double Sided Navajo Pendant by Norman Duboise and Calvin Begay
A few months ago I was approached and asked to submit a donation proposal to the National Museum of the American Indian section of the Smithsonian Institute.    I cheerfully accepted the job after viewing the six magnificent pendants the donor had commissioned.  All the pendants are a collaborative product of two Navajo artists: silversmith Calvin Begay who is widely known; the other artist, Norman Duboise, is a rather obscure master inlayer who lives out on the immense Navajo Reservation in an area close to the New Mexico-Arizona border where he enjoys tending to livestock and living in the traditional Navajo way.   His work in the jewelry business began at age 14 when he was hired by Frank Yellowhorse as a buffer.   Neither artist had previously been represented in the Smithsonian collection, a point that heightened my interest.

I recommended that all six of the pendants be submitted for review, but that the selection be limited to one choice.    The whole process lasted about 4 months beyond the time I submitted a written proposal along with digital photographs.    Finally, the curatorial committee selected one of the pendants and forwarded their recommendation to the museum director who made the final approval.

I was a bit surprised last week when the donor asked me to represent the sale of the five remaining brilliant Navajo masterworks.