You are here: Home > Artist Biographies
BEGAY, HARRISON, or Haskay Yahne Yah (The Wandering Boy) (Navajo, 1914-2012) To his knowledge, Harrison was born in 1914 approximately fourteen miles west of present-day Greasewood, Arizona, on the Dine` (Navajo) Reservation at a place known as Whitecone. His date of birth is often cited as a few years later, however, there are no records and Harrison prefers the year 1914. As a young man he decided to study art in Santa Fe where an art school was organized by the government in the early 1930s. From 1934 until about 1940 he attended this school under Dorothy Dunn. Following art school, Harrison attended college and then enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. Then in the 1960s he again met General Eisenhower at the annual Ceremonials in Gallup, New Mexico. At that time Harrison presented General Eisenhower with one of his fine paintings which is in a permanent collection in Washington, D.C. "Begay's paintings have exerted greater influence on Navajo artists than any other person. His work is internationally known." Harrison passed away on August 18, 2012 at the age of 95.

CHEE, MARK (Navajo, active ca. 1930-1981). Born in the Four Corners area near the Lukachukai Mountains. A US veteran of World War II, Mark Chee enlisted in 1942 and was released from the Military in 1945. He began making high quality jewelry and in 1946 won first prize and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, NM. He later associated himself as a silversmith with Al Packard and Frank Pantania galleries in Santa Fe, NM. He loved beautiful turquoise and heavy silver and would adorn his pieces with beautiful and precise stamp work. Mark Chee passed away at the age of 67 and is buried in the Santa Fe National cemetery.

DEYUSE, LEEKYA (Zuni, 1889-1966). Leekya is the best of all fetish carvers. Leekya worked for C.G. Wallace in the 1920's crafting both stone tabs and nugget necklaces. He later carved small fetishes that would be purchased individually by the traders, which would then be strung into single strand or multi stand necklaces. He also did large free standing fetishes or table fetishes. His carvings have unique features, such as cupped ears on his animals and soft lines on his leaves that distinguish them from other carvers. He never used a hallmark, but his work is very distinctive and highly collectible.

GOODLUCK, HOSTEEN (Navajo, c. 1860s-1930s). “First Phase” silversmith that worked for C.G. Wallace as early as 1923. C.G. Wallace was so impressed with the talents of this man that he moved Hosteen from Houck, AZ to Zuni, NM, to do cast work and as a die maker. C.G. supplied him with fine Swiss files, which he used to make sets of dies. Many of Hosteen and Eskiesose’s dies were furnished to other Zuni and Navajos, with C.G. encouraging them to do silver work. Hosteen was a master in hand-hammered, bezel set, stamp work and repousse’ silver jewelry.

JUAN DE DIOS (or DIDEOS or DIDEDIOS or DELEOSA) (Zuni, c. 1882-1944?). In John Adair's study of Navajo and Pueblo silversmiths in 1944, he identified Juan Dedios as one of the finest Zuni artisans. Juan was known for his outstanding and precise silver castings. Dedios was one of the first producers of Knife Wing figures and was well known for his cast crosses, conchas, bow-guards, beveled stone work, bracelets and exquisitely detailed crucifixes. Dedios worked closely with trader C. G. Wallace, who retained many of his pieces for his private collection. Hallmark was JD.


KEWONWYTEWA, JIMMY (Hopi, c. 1911-1966). World-renowned Kachina Hopi carver Jimmy Kewonwytewa. Jimmy. K became well known while working with historians at the museum of Northern Arizona Flagstaff during the period from the 1940’s to 1965. While working at the museum he documented the existence and significance of Kachinas. Prof.Colton featured him in a 1949 book where he demonstrated "how to carve a Kachina". Jimmy K. was undoubtedly one of the best-known carvers and apparently the first to put his initials on his work. Jimmy realized that the market for his dolls was not the same as that of the Hopi on the reservation, thus he continued to sign most of his dolls until his death in the sixties. He thus became one of the first commercial carvers of kachina dolls Contemporary carvers including Jimmy.K's ancestors have maintained his simplistic style of carving Kachina dolls. Jimmy Kewonwytewa's work is highly sought after by collectors and not many have been seen in recent years.

LEAK (Leekity), JOHN GORDON (Zuni, active 1920s-1950?). d:1970. A very skilled inlay artist, who is best known for figures inlaid into a black jet background. Others at Zuni also used this technique, but Leak's work stands above them all. His real name was probably John Leekity, but very little else is known. Best known figures were dragonfly's, knifewings and arrows, but his talents went well beyond these favorites.

ONDELACY, WARREN & DORIS (Zuni, active.1940-1960's). Specialized in large Zuni cluster work. Warren was considered a master silversmith along with his wife Doris. Recognizable techniques of silver repousse work often accompanied their designs along with the consistent use of high quality materials. Trader C. G. Wallace, retained many of the Ondelacy's pieces for his private collection.

PESHLAKAI, FRED (Navajo, active 1920s-1950s). The son of Slender Maker of Silver, one of the earliest Navajo silversmiths. Peshlakai was one of the first smiths to hallmark his work, though he usually did so only on request. He taught Kenneth Begay while at the Fort Wingate School. During the early 1940's Fred opened up his own shop on Olvera Street in Los Angeles. His pieces are very technically precise and elaborate, sometimes even to the point of seemingly Mexican, and his stonework was that of a master stone cutter and always of the highest quality material. He had several different hallmarks, from both left and right facing arrows with FP imposed in the center, to a simple F.P.

PESHLAKAI, FRANK (Navajo, 1903-1965). Frank was Fred’s brother and lived in El Monte, California. He was married to a California Native American named Emma Largo and would sell Indian rugs out of the trunk of his vehicle. He was a truck driver by trade. Frank would help Fred at his store on Olvera Street in Los Angeles and would do some pieces for others when it was requested. The difference between Fred and Frank’s work was that Fred was more detailed in his design especially in the 1950’s when Fred’s work took on a more Mexican look while working on Olvera Street! Very few pieces of Franks work have ever surfaced in the market and even fewer that were hallmarked.

POBLANO, LEO (Zuni, 1905-1959). Leo Poblano is widely regarded as one of the most talented and versatile Zuni artists. He was a veteran of World War II, where he served on the Zuni firefighting crew. Leo produced highly detailed figures in mosaic inlay, including a wide range of ceremonial dancers and olla maidens. He also carved fetishes, which usually contained small inlaid dots of different colored materials. Often working with his first wife Daisy Nampeyo and second wife Ida Vasit, he would produce the stonework for these figures, and Navajo smiths such as Dan Simplicio or his uncle Teddy Weahkee would complete the silver work. Leo traded or sold all of his work to trader C. G. Wallace.


SIMPLICIO, DAN (Zuni, 1917-1969). Dan Simplicio learned from his uncle, Juan Dedios. Early in his career, Simplicio worked at C. G. Wallace's Zuni trading post, grinding and setting stones. This was where he first used branch coral in its natural form and set rough-cut coral nuggets on rings. He also did some outstanding inlay work early in his career, which is rarely seen. Dan Simplicio, Jr., credits his father's World War II army service in Europe with the development of his fathers innovative leaf designs. Stationed in France, Germany and Italy, he observed the use of leaf work in classical and modern Western European sculpture. Simplicio's jewelry has a highly recognizable look, resulting from its distinctive use of deep red branch coral with high quality turquoise, silver leaf work and scalloped bezels.


WEAHKEE, TEDDY (Zuni, c. 1890-1965). Well respected as both a fetish carver and a mosaic inlay artist. His inlay work tends to make extensive use of dot inlay, a very difficult technique not used by many other artists during the early to mid 1900's.

WEEBOTHEE, LEE and MARY
(Zuni, active 1940-1980). Highly acclaimed artists, Lee and Mary's jewelry goes beyond perfection. They are best know for their incredible cluster jewelry, which brought them more awards than any other silversmith. Their focus on detail, both lapidary and metal work is obvious in every piece of jewelry they produced. Highly collectible.

ESKIESOSE (or ESKI SOSI, ESKIE TSOSIE) (Navajo, active 1910-1940's) d: 1937. Known for his beautiful stamp work and repousse. Eskiesose worked for C.G. Wallace for a period of time and was commissioned to produce stamps, he and Hosteen Goodluck worked closely together creating many of the early concho belts and other detailed pieces of jewelry. Several of his pieces are featured in the C.G. Wallace collection. Mentioned in the John Adair 1944 book, Eskiesose preferred to work without strangers watching him, as he insisted his silver would not melt correctly. Hallmarked rarely with an X.

VACIT, FRANK (Zuni, c. 1915-1999)
Frank Vacit was one of the most talented and recognized Zuni jewelers of his era. His career with inlay began in 1932 pioneering the channel inlay technique as well as creating pieces with mosaic inlay. He worked through the late 1960's and was a master craftsman. Frank was one of the few artists from this era to use a hallmark, which was a distinctive fleur de lis. His pieces have become some of the most valued and highly collectable work from this time period.





(Your shopping cart is empty)