Tempe, AZ Since I’m getting ready to head back to Window Rock for another class, I wanted to get you caught up on the conclusion of our August classes. I’ll start with the week-long class that ran from August 1st through the 8th. On Thursday, we decided to head into Gallup for some shopping and dinner with trader Bruce Burnham. We went to several of the trading posts that Jennie Slick and I like to visit, starting with Perry Null’s Tobe Turpen Trading Post. Perry carry’s a full line of Native American arts and takes advantage of Gallup’s proximity to both the Zuni and Navajo communities. As you can see above, several of our students enjoyed the selection of Zuni fetish carvings at Perry’s. You can see some of the textile area there in the picture below.
Moving on from there, we went to Richardson’s Trading on Historic Route 66 in Gallup. Richardson’s has been in business in Gallup since 1913 and their rug display spreads over five different rooms and a loft area. It is one of the best places to examine different rug styles and rug buyer Larry Fulbright aims for both high quality and unique perspectives in the textiles that he brings in to Richardson’s. The Germantown sampler by Veronica Six that you can see in the picture below is a good example of both.
It’s a difficult to communicate the size of Richardson’s textile area in a picture, but you can get some idea in the photo below. In addition to textiles, Richardson’s also carries a full selection of pottery, jewelry and other Native American artwork.
After a full afternoon of studying the textiles and other art, we were ready for dinner at the El Rancho Hotel. Built in the 1930’s, the El Rancho was home to many of the movie stars who worked in Gallup when it was an active location area for movies and television. It’s still an attraction for tourists, although the last time I stayed there, there rooms could have used some help and the plumbing seemed to be haunted by the Marx Brothers (who really did stay there). The El Rancho restaurant, however, is top notch and has some of the best food in the area. They also serve adult beverages, which we can’t have in Window Rock (alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Nation). Fourth generation trader Bruce Burnham joined us and fascinated us with his stories and his hopes for the success of downtown Gallup.
The next day, we headed out to Toadlena and Two Grey Hills. In this area, handspinning is still the standard and sheep culture is at some of the highest levels within the Navajo Nation. Here, sheep are bred for signature colors and the fine weavings created are among the most expensive textiles in the world.
At Toadlena, trader Mark Winter has turned the trading post started by George Bloomfield in 1909 into a combination trading post and museum, converting the old vault area into a rotating exhibit. The trading post is celebrating it’s centennial this area and weaver Esther Etcitty created the rug seen in the picture below in honor of the event.
Moving on, we headed over to the Two Grey Hills Trading Post, established in 1897 by the Noel brothers. Trader Les Wilson keeps a good selection of Two Grey Hills weavings as well as one of the best selections of folk art in the area (the smiling sheep figures are a class favorite). Les’ wife Irma Henderson has a flock of Navajo-churro sheep which makes Two Grey Hills an excellent stop for those of us who spin our own yarn. Two Grey Hills is one of my main sources of the authentic Navajo-churro wool that I use in rug restorations. One of the master weavers of Two Grey Hills rugs, Shirley Brown, also works at the store, but she modestly will not mention it. She’ll show you one of her magnificent weavings if coaxed.
After we returned to Window Rock we got back to work. Luci Hicks finished her piece and Niccole Cerveny put the finishing touches on her work. Completing a weaving Navajo style isn’t fast or easy, but it is very satisfying and when the textile is removed from the loom, there is very little in the way of finishing work that needs to be done.
Of course, we had to get together for a class picture. I’d been trying to get everyone up to the Window Rock to do it all week, but we just didn’t get there and decided to go for a alternate location just outside the dining room at the hotel. You’d think that we could have gotten everyone together, but we couldn’t and we ended up having to take two pictures. I’m not that good with Photoshop, so I’ll show you both of them!
Thanks to all of the students for a wonderful week and may you all weave in beauty!
Hagoshíí (so long for now)