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Phoenix, AZ Let’s visit with a few more weavers at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Market! Heading toward the east side of the show, I stopped and talked with Geneva Scott Shabi and her sister Brenda Spencer. Geneva’s large Ganado Red Wide Ruins rug was sporting a large and well deserved ribbon. Click here to see Geneva with the rug. Usually a weaver in the Wide Ruins style, Geneva’s sister, Brenda Spencer had chosen a bordered Burntwater design evocative of Teec Nos Pos patterns, but with a very contemporary feel. You can see Brenda with the rug at the top right. I was surprised to see it without a ribbon, but that doesn’t mean I’m volunteering to judge rugs! I’d still be over at the Heard trying to make a decision!
On my way to see TahNiibaa Naataanii, I saw Phil Singer (pictured at top left). Phil is a thoughtful and innovative weaver who dyes many of his own yarns. This always lends extra dimension to the work, although I can attest to the extra time involved! Phil has started a new series of Fancy Manta weavings and he’s holding the first one in the picture above. He’s about to move back to Kayenta to help care for his elderly parents, but promises to stay in touch. The Heard show is the largest one that he participates in each year, but also expects to be at the Museum of Northern Arizona Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture on August 6th and 7th in Flagstaff.
TahNiibaa’s booth was what you might call mobbed with I got there. TahNiibaa is doing wet felting on silk and decorated silk scarves that are very popular. You can see some of them in the background of the picture at left. These smaller pieces give her a lower priced and desirable item to sell while still allowing her the time to concentrate on a large weaving. Her prize winning and classic Second Phase Chief design was done with commercial Brown Sheep wool and was expertly executed. If you’re a weaver, you know that Brown Sheep can be very fuzzy and this piece showed none of that. TahNiibaa hopes for the day when Navajo woven textiles will be more commonly used as wearable art, and I’m a real proponent of that as well. In addition to her weaving, TahNiibaa is working as the Project Director for Dibé Bé Iiná, and is working organize their Sheep is Life Celebration June 20th through 25th in Tsaile, AZ.
The Market was getting really crowded when I began to make my way back to the front gate. I had heard a rumor that Gilbert Begay had arrived and I wanted to see if he had any of his woven bags. It was getting difficult to navigate the aisles in the tent where Gilbert had his booth, but I don’t think that I seriously injured anyone trying to get there. Gilbert was busy spinning and I selected a Ganado Red bag for the Mercantile. It’s done with commercial Brown Sheep and is probably about 7″ x 9″ (somewhat larger than Gilbert’s other bags). It will sell for $196.00 and you can contact me if you’re interested. Click here to see a picture of Gilbert with the bag.
As I was leaving, I had a nice talk with Jason Harvey, who is pictured at the lower center in the photos at the top of this article. Jason does a lot of work with contemporary representations of traditional patterns, but he also had a terrific small Burntwater that he said he’d done to get back to his roots. You’ll see it at the right and be sure to mouse over the picture to see some of the detail. Jason said that the dark brown was dyed with walnuts, which give one of the richest versions of the color under the right conditions. Jason wasn’t sure of some of the other dye sources, a problem that I have because I seldom label my results. D.Y. Begay has my admiration for the careful labeling and recordkeeping that she does.
As I was driving home, I realized that I had not had a chance to stop to see Sallie Parker or Sylvia Begaye. I have some pictures of their work that I’ll share with you in my next article. I also could not get anywhere near top weaving prize winner Charlene Laughing’s booth. I’ll have to make up for that at Indian Market!