Natural solitude, big sky country, a lifetime spent more outdoors than indoors and the calming sense that living remote and being self-reliant brings—these are things few of us deeply know and understand today. There are places unburdened by towns, unbound by paved roads, where the greatest influence remains the weather and seasons. The Oregon Outback, rural Alaska, and vast areas of the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona and New Mexico allow time and space to stretch out far and wide. In this setting, where a few hardy folks still live, a person has the opportunity to put an unheard of amount of attention, detail, and care into meaningful endeavors.
Lucy and Ellen Begay, mother & daughter and members of the Navajo Tribe, lived beyond the trappings of Western Civilization. A narrow trail from their very modest home eventually led to a rugged dirt road, which finally arrived at a smoother dirt road, which terminated at a gravel road, which none-too-soon came to a two lane, paved road with no shoulders. Here, they wove a legacy—19 sumptuous rugs—on a traditional handloom that required 20 years.
These weavings consumed all their ‘productive focus’ and when they had finished in 2008—amongst the red mesas, wild horses, juniper trees, and sacred winter ceremonies lasting nine days—they had created stunning contemporary works of weaving art. Other Navajo rugs over the last 100 years are as beautiful, some are as finely woven, but none have combined these qualities while also being fully innovative in their design. Names have been created for each rug’s pattern, something unheard of in the tradition of
Lucy’s in her late 70’s now, her hands are not as steady, and she can’t sit at the loom for long periods anymore. Ellen passed away a few years ago, after years of chronic health issues. The ancient landscape of their home remains the same, however; its timelessness of colors, textures and shapes captured in these rugs. Their creation was commissioned and financed by legendary Navajo rug trader Steve Gertzwiller, beginning in the late 80’s. As each was completed, Gary Beaudoin purchased them. The rugs will be exhibited, eight at a time, at Raven Makes Gallery in Sisters, Oregon, from June 23 to July 10. A presentation about the rugs will occur on Saturday, June 24, 2:00 pm, at the gallery.
182 E Hood Avenue, Sisters
Hours: 10-5pm Thursday-Saturday
Sunday 11-4 pm, Monday 11-4pm