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Nizhoni Ranch News

Montclair Art Museum - Now Showing Color Riot!

Montclair Art Museum - Now Showing Color Riot!


Color Riot!

Multicolored textiles highlight weavers’ individuality at the Montclair Art Museum.

In 2019, the Heard Museum hosted the exhibition Josef Albers in New Mexico, and while preparing they found a black-and-white photo collage that featured several Navajo textiles. The similarities between the textiles and Albers’ iconic paintings served as the basis for a new exhibition titled Color Riot! How Color Changed Navajo Textiles, which is now on view at the Montclair Art Museum.

Melissa Cody (Navajo), The Dopamine Regression, 2010, three-ply commercial wool yarn and aniline dyes. Collection of Arthur and Linda Pelberg. Image: Edward C. Robison III. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

The show features complex, colorful works from historic Navajo weavers as well as contemporary works from artists like Melissa Cody, Venancio Francis Aragon and exhibition co-curator Velma Kee Craig.

While walking with her dogs in her neighborhood one night, Craig passed a home that had a foreclosure sign in the front yard with a large QR code on it. The sight inspired her to create a flag-designed textile. “I snapped a photo with my cell phone and began planning and designing pretty much immediately,” she says. The end creation, Bar Code/QR Code, mimics the format of the American flag with a square QR code and a standard bar code taking the place of the traditional stars and stripes.

Velma Kee Craig (Navajo), Bar Code/QR Code, 2013, one-ply commercial yarn and aniline dyes. Heard Museum Collection. Image: Craig Smith, Courtesy of the Heard Museum.

Aragon created Prism of Emotions after several years of experimenting with dyes. He’d begun to combine the natural plant and insect dyes into single pieces of yarn, but he wanted even more color. “I began to mix synthetically dyed yarns into my pieces alongside with the natural,” he explains. “The different shade of colors I obtained worked well together and so, I began a quest to weave the most colorful textiles I could.”

Eventually, he developed an aesthetic he calls an “expanded rainbow,” using 150 shades of yarn or more within single textiles. He adds, “My hope in weaving such bold and bright pieces is to disrupt regionalism and normative ideas about Navajo weaving. I’m attempting to capture the colors of the world in my weavings.”

Lola S. Cody (Navajo), The Grand Falls, 2012, wool yarns, aniline dyes and vegetal dyes. Heard Museum Collection. Image: Craig Smith, Courtesy of the Heard Museum.

Prominently featured in the exhibition is Cody’s 2010 work The Dopamine Regression, which reflects the emotions she worked through when her father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The weaving features multiple patterns and color schemes that bleed into one another, with a black-line motif that becomes more prominent toward the bottom of the piece.

Artist Once Known (Navajo), Blanket (beedléi), 1875-1885, handspun wool, four-ply commercial yarn, indigo dye and aniline dyes. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection at the Heard Museum. Image: Craig Smith, Courtesy of the Heard Museum.

“Color Riot! honors the aesthetic and technical complexity of works by historical artists whose names did not remain with their creations, and shows how today’s weavers uphold and advance that vision,” says Laura J. Allen, Montclair Art Museum’s curator of Native American art. The exhibition remains on view through January 2, 2022. 

Through January 2, 2022
Color Riot! How Color Changed Navajo Textiles

Montclair Art Museum
3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042
973-746-5555, www.montclairartmuseum.org

  • Beth Barth
Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

November is National American Indian Heritage Month The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.

Please

  • Beth Barth
NRG Now Accepting Crypto-Currency!

NRG Now Accepting Crypto-Currency!


Nizhoni Ranch now accepting cryptocurrency as payment for art in the gallery.  We look forward to serving our customers with the ease of transacting in any currency. 

Below is a photo of one of the early trips to the Reservation and a few pieces to tempt the crypto buyers.  Moving into the future can be a hair blowing experience.

Best to all,

Steve and Gail

 sean getzwiller

Steve snapping a photos on his way to the Reservation with of our son - pit stop at Salt River Canyon.  Most likely a polaroid.  Things have changed.

JB Moore/Crystal Navajo Weaving : Historic : PC 110 : $ 15,000



First Phase Chief Blanket Early Classic Ute Style : 1st Phase : Historic Navajo Weaving : Call for Pricing



  • Beth Barth
Made in Arizona  |  Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Made in Arizona | Desert Caballeros Western Museum

The Desert Caballeros Western Museum is pleased to present, “Made in Arizona”, an exhibition with over 100 objects that include paintings, sculpture, quilts, weavings, cowboy boots, saddles and other treasures from the permanent collection and several lenders. Inventions such as the Bola Tie (patented in Wickenburg, AZ) helped the 48th state become a beacon for people seeking to live a lifestyle that’s wrapped in the romantic mystique of the American West. The exhibition is funded in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Town of Wickenburg.

Arizona’s Five C’s (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, and Climate) are well-represented in the Museum’s collection, from depictions of storms at the Grand Canyon to cowboys and their gear. As any Arizona 4th grader can tell you, in the early years of the state the five C’s served an important role in the economy, with many jobs in agriculture, ranching, and mining.

Just as important today are the Four R’s (Retirees, Rodeo, Roping, and Recreation). Once the Dude Ranch Capital of the World, Wickenburg is now known as the Roping Capital. One of the half-scale saddles on display is a Roper’s design, built by Carson Thomas on the popular Bowman roper tree for easy on and off during calf roping and steer roping events.

And then there are the Three F’s (Families, Farming, and Fleece). Hispanic families settled in the area in the late 1800s and their descendants are still active Wickenburg townspeople today. The blue and orange quilt on display was made by the Quesadas in the 1930s. Families of artists such as the Molnars and the Fellows are nationally-known fine arts ambassadors. Photographers Scott Baxter and Barbar Van Cleve captured the spirit of the Hays and Rigden family of ranchers and artists. The Marianito family’s Navajo weavings utilize the wool of the Churro sheep.

State 48 does indeed create!

In the mid-20th century, Western music came to define not only the Southwest, but an entire era in the national imagination.  Artists like Rex Allen, Roy Rogers, and Marty Robbins provided the soundtrack to many Easterners’ Arizona vacations. Listen to theses romantic versions of the West as you tour the exhibition with the guidePORT™ audio system.

Special thanks to our many lenders: Scott T. Baxter, Joel Bretan, Dee Bybee, John and Dita Daub, Betsy and Myron Deibel, Steve and Gail Getzwiller, Jimmy “The Hat Man” Harrison, Suzi Killman, Karen Lamontagne, Bruce Meier, George and Marcia Molnar, Optimo Hatworks, Lyn and Arlene Raskin, and Dione Reynolds.

  • Beth Barth
Master Navajo Weaver, Marion Nez stuns judges!

Master Navajo Weaver, Marion Nez stuns judges!

Native American Art Magazine

October/November 2021 Edition


Painting with Wool

Navajo weaver Marian Nez stuns judges at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial with her Spider Rock weaving.

“Wow!” That’s usually the first word said when someone looks at this stunning piece created by Navajo master weaver Marian Nez. “That’s incredible!” usually follows as people look at this pictorial piece measuring 35 by 48 inches. Spider Rock, one of the holiest landmarks in the Navajo culture, appears to be painted with Churro wool while next to it is a guardian Yei sand painting. The two images are blended into one weaving, carefully and artistically brought to life.

Spider Rock Pictorial Navajo Rug : Marion Nez : Churro 1658

Marian Nez (Navajo), Spider Rock Pictorial Navajo Rug, Churro wool, 35 x 48”. Winner of Best of Class at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial 2021. Photo courtesy of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery.

The piece was actually started in 2017 by Helene Nez, also a master weaver, who is one of Marian’s seven sisters. Steve Getzwiller—owner of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery in Sonoita, Arizona, and a long-time collector and trader with many master weavers—asked her to do one with Spider Rock, sending her pictures of the landmark in Canyon de Chelly. “She thought it was too plain, and said, ‘Let me do it my way’” says younger sister Cecelia Nez. “The sand painting was (put in) because she didn’t want to do the whole picture as a landscape.”

Getzwiller, who has been working with two generations of Nez family weavers since the early 1980s, chuckles about that. “I just let her do whatever she wants,” he says.

While Helene did start the piece, she abruptly stopped early on and moved away. Cecelia eventually took it off the loom and put it aside.

Marian Nez is very familiar with the many shades of colors in Spider Rock and Canyon de Chelly. Both are often backdrops for photographs Nizhoni Ranch Gallery takes of weavers and their creations once they are off the loom. Photo courtesy of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery.

In early 2020, Marian was living and working in Winslow. Covid hit, her job went away and she moved back home with her sisters in Navajo Nation. She had not been weaving full time for years and was looking for something to do. That’s when Cecelia remembered the unfinished Spider Rock piece.

“So I set it up for her and showed her how to start…and she did it a lot better than I would have!” Says Cecelia, who is herself an award-winning master weaver. “Marian’s so artistic. She’s very good at what she does.”

“Once I started, it was pretty simple,” says Marian. “It was just slow…there weren't any shortcuts.
I finished in five or six months.”

Spider Rock Pictorial Navajo Rug on the loom.


When she first saw it, there were only a few inches completed. There wasn’t much of Spider Rock and only two Yeis on the sand painting. “I did part of that road that goes by that rock. And then it goes all black on the side. That’s around where I started from.” And she just kept going, developing her own rhythm, from the sand painting to the towering stones and back again. “It wasn’t that hard to me,” she says.

But it wasn’t that easy either, as she focused so intently on the colors, not just of Spider Rock, but of the background as well. It’s Marian’s attention to detail that grabs you as you gaze upon it, where you think you could reach out and touch it; feeling the grit of the red sandstone on your fingers.

The spires of Spider Rock reach up to the skies over Canyon de Chelly. This is considered one of the holiest places in Navajo culture, where Spider Woman, one of the highest deities, lives. It was Spider Woman who taught the first Navajos how to weave, and that came after she wove the universe. Photo courtesy of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery.

“I had a photo of it, so I had to use a magnifying glass to look at all the shapes and rocks, and that’s how I did that,” explains Marian, when asked about the depth and shadows of the rock formations and the canyon. “I used all different colored yarns, all different shades.”

Navajo legends say Spider Woman lives at Spider Rock, and was the first to weave the web which became the universe. She taught the Diné, the Navajo people, how to weave, how to create beauty and bring balance to their lives, and how to sing the weaving songs. These are all passed down through the generations, as they were to Marian and her sisters from their mother, Grace Nez, and grandmother.

Marian remembers in her childhood, when her mother had a piece up on the loom and had to occasionally step away. “When my mom would go to town, I used to take a small piece (of the weaving) out, and then put it back in before she came back,” she says, with a smile in her voice over this memory. “That’s how I learned.”

These are lessons she obviously learned well, because while she was already considered a master weaver, this textile “painting” of Spider Rock earned Best in Textiles this summer at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.

Marian is back to weaving full time again, and while she’s currently working on a Teec Nos Pos weaving this fall, she already knows what her next one will be. “After that, I’m going to redo Spider Rock again without the Yeis rug. That’s my next project and I need a lot of yarn.”

Steve Getzwiller is already on that. “I got a special dye batch done so that rocks look like rocks. That’s the amazing thing about her weaving in that it looks so realistic.”

It does, indeed.

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  • Beth Barth
WINNERS! 2021 Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

WINNERS! 2021 Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Each year we submit weavings from our Churro and Contemporary Collections for judging.  In the last 40+ years many of our weavers have won ribbons and prize money.  We are so happy and proud of our weavers this year.  From our entries the weavers brought home 9 Blue Ribbons,  5 Red Ribbons, 3 Best of Category and the TOP honor  - Best of Class in Textiles!

Congrats to all!

Spider Rock Pictorial Navajo Rug : Marian Nez : Churro 1658
Best of Class,  Best in Category, 1st Place Blue Ribbon!!!!! 


 Teec Nos Pos Navajo Rug : Linda Nez : Churro 1665 : 35" x 62"

Best in Category, 1st Place Blue Ribbon (145)
Teec Nos Pos Navajo Rug : Linda Nez : Churro 1665 : 35" x 62"


 Innovative Navajo Rug : Elsie Bia : Churro 1673 : 38" x 61"

Best in Category, 1st Place Blue Ribbon (184)
Innovative Navajo Rug : Elsie Bia : Churro 1673 : 38" x 61"


Three Turkey Ruin Navajo Rug : Helen Bia : Churro 1651 : 38" x 61"

 1st Place Blue Ribbon (122)
Three Turkey Ruin Navajo Rug : Helen Bia : Churro 1651 : 38" x 61"


Burntwater Navajo Weaving : Ruby Watchman : Churro 1655 : 33" x 48.5"


 1st Place Blue Ribbon (150)
Burntwater Navajo Weaving : Ruby Watchman : Churro 1655 : 33" x 48.5"



1st Place Blue Ribbon (148)
Storm Pattern Runner : Navajo Rug : Elsie Bia : Churro 1660 : 37" x 85"


Innovative Design Runner : Navajo Rug : Frances Begay : Churro 1659

 1st Place Blue Ribbon (176)
Innovative Design Runner : Navajo Rug : Frances Begay : Churro 1659


Navajo 2nd Phase Woman's Blanket:  Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1667 : 36" x 50"
 1st Place Blue Ribbon (142)
Navajo 2nd Phase Woman's Blanket: Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1667 : 36" x 50"


Navajo Shawl : Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1643 : 66" x 18.5"
1st Place Blue Ribbon (185)
Navajo Shawl : Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1643 : 66" x 18.5"


 Teec Nos Pos Navajo Runner : Cecelia Nez : Churro 1666 : 24" x 46"
2nd Place Red Ribbon (144)
Teec Nos Pos Navajo Runner : Cecelia Nez : Churro 1666 : 24" x 46"


Bistie / Teec Nos Pos / Storm Variant  Navajo Rug :  Elsie Bia : Churro 1669 : 44.5" x 73" Rich text editor
2nd Place Red Ribbon (145)
Bistie / Teec Nos Pos / Storm Variant Navajo Rug : Elsie Bia : Churro 1669 : 44.5" x 73"

Burntwater Navajo Rug:  Irene Bia : Churro 1670 : 38" x 60"
2nd Place Red Ribbon (122)
Burntwater Navajo Rug: Irene Bia : Churro 1670 : 38" x 60"


Kathy Marianito Navajo shawl
2nd Place Red Ribbon (185)
Navajo Shawl : Kathy Marianito : Churro # 1671


 Silk American Indian Blanket : Woman's Manta : Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1620 : 56" x 34"
2nd Place Red Ribbon (184)
Silk American Indian Blanket : Woman's Manta : Jalucie Marianito : Churro 1620 : 56" x 34"


  • Beth Barth
We're Still Here, by Susan Sorg

We're Still Here, by Susan Sorg


WE’RE STILL HERE  by Susan Sorg

Over a year later, memories of the global pandemic are still here, raw and fresh.
Something else is still here, surviving and in some cases thriving. This is what so many incredibly talented Native American artists want the world to know: Despite how people of color were hard especially hit by covid-19, they are still creating art. They are still here.

What is normally the first major show of the year, the annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market went off as usual in March, 2020. Afterwards, Jemez Pueblo potter Glendora Fragua packed up and headed back home to Albuquerque. “As we drove out, there were only one or two cases (of covid) in the Phoenix area. And when we got back, that’s when the whole thing started.”

18-year-old Navajo painter Penelope Joe says the pandemic came to Navajo
Nation during her high school’s spring break. “I remember that announcement on KTNN (Navajo radio station) that morning. When you’re young you never thought something like this could happen at all.”

Penelope says the first three weeks, they locked their gate and didn’t go
anywhere. “I’m not gonna lie. We were scared ‘cause my grandparents are elders. My mom and me had to protect them.”

Barbara Jean Teller-Ornelas is a Navajo tapestry weaver living in Tucson. Her
nephew was a home health care worker living with Barbara and her son. He caught covid at the end of March, 2020, unknowingly bringing it home to his cousin and aunt.  “Around April 5 th , we all got sick,” she recalls, “but my nephew was worse than us. So I called an ambulance on the 14 th (of April). They took one look at us and said ‘You all need to go in. You’ve got the virus.’ We had no idea this was happening.”

All three went into ICU. Barbara had pneumonia as well, and was hospitalized
for nearly three weeks. Her nephew, however, was intubated right off. He died nine days later.

“My son was ok for the first couple of days,” Barbara recalls, “and then he went
downhill real fast. They intubated him, and he was on a ventilator for 50 days. He was in a coma the whole time…and was in the hospital for three months, then three months in rehab. He had to re-learn how to walk and talk.”

Elvie Vanwinkle, a master weaver of Navajo textiles says the sickness spread like wildfire across Navajo Nation. “I think because we didn’t understand much of what the virus was about,” she says. “In the beginning, people continued to get together, visit each other, shake hands because shaking hands and saying hello is big amongst the Navajos…we didn’t know that much about the virus.”

“It hit hard with those that live out in the rural areas, those with no running
water, no electricity,” Vanwinkle says. “Some of the leaders and some of the community people delivered hand washing stations to some of the individuals who live out in the rural areas.”

Steve and Gail Getzwiller, owners of Nizhoni Ranch Gallery work closely with
about two dozen Navajo weavers, some being the second and third generation in their family weaving exclusively for the gallery. “We did work with Red Feather (a non-profit) donating to them to help during this time,” says Gail Getzwiller. “They had an organized group and on-the-ground success in providing washing stations, etc., across the Navajo reservation.”

The Getzwillers normally send churro wool and other rug-making material to
weavers, but were now tucking in hand sanitizers, toilet paper, and other essentials.

Alex Sanchez, a Navajo/Hopi jeweler living in Gallup, New Mexico saw another
need on the reservation: Masks and gloves, which he said the elderly especially didn’t understand. “They’d share (masks) husbands and wives would,” he says. “Some of the masks were old and just dirty. I bought (some), and whatever people helped with I matched…5,000 masks, 5,000 gloves. I went out to communities and passed them out.  Three times I did that.”

“So many people donated so much, truckloads of water, bottled water, hand
sanitizer, masks, you name it,” says Elvie Vanwinkle. “People helped out…our
people…my people.”

The economic blow to artists was immense. Reservations were on lockdown.
Galleries closed, and, even more importantly, suppliers artists used for materials closed.

Penelope Joe started painting when she was 12, and winning first place awards
when she was 13. This young woman with big dreams creates big art, on big canvases kitchen-table sized. Ordering online was a problem, since most only deliver to physical addresses, which remote areas on the reservation simply don’t have.

Thema Tsosie, Penelope’s aunt who has helped raise her was trying to find
canvases from smaller art online shops. “They have the hardest time with the post office to even deliver to the house. At times, we had to wait by the main road, but then you couldn’t be on the road for anything, so it was a real struggle. It wasn’t easy.”

Tanner’s Indian Arts in Gallup specializes in jewelry crafted by Native American
artists. Joe and Cynthia Tanner and their daughter Emerald learned suppliers of silver, gold, and lapidary materials were closed like galleries and other retail. Then Joe Tanner had an idea. “What I remember,” he said, “was reviewing the uncompleted silver and gold work in the safe, waiting to be set.” Joe decided to give these unfinished pieces to certain young jewelers he worked with.

“Dad has a long history of being that sort of catalyst putting artists and talents
together,” says Emerald Tanner. “I think really why we drew on that and why we did so much of it is of course because the silver was limited, but it really gave us an opportunity to couple this new, modern talent with these granddaddies of contemporary Native American jewelry like Preston Monongye, Lee Yazzie and Loloma.”

Emerald says their headquarters became the Taco Bell parking lot, where she’d
meet up with the cadre of young jewelers who now had the opportunity to take
unfinished pieces, some older than they were, and bring these pieces to life.

“That’s what really sparked the concept,” says Emerald. “It’s something we felt
could be our contribution to keeping these artists that were so focused and excited to be on board with us.”

As the year and the pandemic continued, show venues and galleries were either
closed or operated virtually. The Tanners used Zoom to stay in touch with their clients.  Nizhoni Ranch Gallery already had a strong online presence. “Internet sales actually increased during Covid," says Gail Getzwiller. “We have been blessed that we can continue to help and be a place for weavers to market their works.”

And for that, Elvie Vanwinkle and the other weavers in her family are grateful.
“We are probably some of the lucky ones, to work with Steve, because he’s continued to buy from us in this pandemic.”

Glendora Fragua depended on shows to sell her pottery, and after the Heard, it
became pretty apparent there weren’t going to be any more for a while. She had never posted any of her pots for sale on Facebook before. She tried it…and quickly sold out. “I was really surprised!” she says. “So I was thinking ‘What other things can I do?’”

She bought black masks, and painted her designs on them. When those sold, she tried women’s hats and men’s baseball caps, then earrings, and purses, even shoes, all with her designs beautifully painted on. Her new business model worked.

For Penelope Joe, she had to put her painting on hold for about two months until
canvases finally came in. But the first ones she received were 8” x 10”, tiny when compared to the 5’ x 7’ dimensions she had been working on. “I was so mad,” she recalls. “But my mother told me maybe this is just telling you to learn how to do smaller art and teach yourself. That’s what I did.”

She was working hard on her art and with her aunt to finally have an online
presence. That plan derailed in November when her grandparents caught the virus, which spread to Penelope and her aunt. All four were hospitalized, and when they came home, it was Penelope who looked after everyone. Her painting, which brought her such joy, was back on hold.

In January, Alex Sanchez became sick with covid, as did his wife. Doctors in
Gallup said he needed to be on a ventilator and was flown to an Albuquerque hospital.  Fortunately, his breathing improved there without a ventilator, but he remained on oxygen for several weeks afterwards. He’s off of it now, thankfully, and is back to creating jewelry.

Elvie Vanwinkle also caught it in January. “I didn’t want to touch my rug,” she
says. “I didn’t want it (the virus) to come in contact with my work. But I’m one of the ones who recovered.”

It was a long time before Barbara Jean Teller-Ornelas could even sit beyond two
hours at her loom. “I realized it affects my whole body…and your body’s telling you ‘I can’t help you.’ We learn how to stay in tune with what is happening, and we learn how to stop and relax.”

Barbara’s family cheered when she finally finished a piece a year after she’d first
put it on the loom. Her son, also a weaver, isn’t fully recovered, but he’s getting there. 

One thing this experience has given back to Barbara is the joy she used to
experience with her art. “I’d sit in front of my loom every day, and I touch it, and I feel it…I’d hear my grandma’s songs coming back, and I could hear her prayers coming back to me, coming, and repeating it…it moved my sense of balance back.”

Glendora is excited about the Bernalillo Indian Arts and Crafts show in July, the
first show she’s been to in 16 months. She knows now her art can be improvised with other mediums successfully and sold online. Her one take-away from this is knowing where her artistic heart lies: “I’m definitely going back to pottery. That is my passion, pottery.”

Penelope Joe’s grandfather, already weakened by covid, died after a heart attack this past March.  

His young, artistic granddaughter is now looking forward, embracing the art that is embracing her in return.

“When I finally got back to it,” says Penelope, “it brought me so much peace, joy,
comfort, love, because I know they’re my healers…and they’ll always be healing me.”

 Native American Art Magazine - for art lovers around the world.

  • Beth Barth
Chief Blankets, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Phase

Chief Blankets, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Phase

Chief Blanket : Late Classic : 2nd / 3rd Phase Variant : Navajo Weaving : JV 113 : 56" x 76"


Chief Blankets circa 1700-1900, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Phase

One of the most iconic weavings in American history, Navajo Chief Blankets were a distinguished status symbol during the 19th century.

Traded and prized throughout the Southwest and Great Plains, these gorgeous weavings were not only valued for their horizontal stripes of rich Cochineal reds, Indigo blues and deep blacks, but because of their supreme quality.

Often worn across the shoulders of a Chief, clan leader or men and women of prominent social or financial status, these Navajo wearing blankets were tightly woven to shed water and to keep you safe and warm during cold, rainy and snowy seasons.

Below are the three distinct phases in which Chief Blankets are separated due to their style, color, and weaving patterns:

First Phase Chief Blankets: 1700-1840s
The “Ute” style or First Phase hail from the classic period of Navajo life. A simplistic version adopted from Pueblo wearing blankets, narrow horizontal bands of rich, natural dark browns and blacks, these chief blankets were woven with white churro sheep wool yarn. They are also known for their unique indigo-blue or red raveled yarns that were sourced from dyed English baize trade cloth.

Second Phase Chief Blankets: 1840-1860
The second phase of the Chief Blanket moved quickly over the next 10 years. And while it was sandwiched between phases 1 and 3 . This style saw weavers adopt smaller design elements with rectangles and horizontal bands; often in a 12-spot position format. In essence, weavers were placing these new elements on “top” of the phase 1 style, creating a background effect that made each blanket stand out with more vivid color and style.

Classic Third Phase Chief Blankets: 1860-1868
The third and final phase was the shortest of them all, lasted just 8 years. These new designs featured elements in a “9-spot” design that covered the top, middle and bottom of each blanket with new, exciting patterns. Based on the weavers’ discretion or style, different shapes would begin to take hold with rectangles, squares or even diamonds becoming central figures.

Blankets woven after 1868 are referred to as Late Classics, later giving way to the Transitional Period of the 1880s and 1890s.

Sitting high on the neck and draped around the shoulders, these prestigious items commanded a respectable price even during the era because of their use of costly raveled Bayeta cloth and Indigo dyes.

What’s more, weavers sometimes took up to a year to weave each one, making them as rare as they were functional and beautiful. This mean that you could see a single wearing blanket in the 1860s command $50-$60 in gold or a great many horses; thus, the designation, Chief Blanket.

Today original Chief Blankets remain a one of the Navajo’s most sought after pieces for collectors all over the world. And even those made today are valued for the high-quality weaving precision, gorgeous colors, and iconic design. 

 Shop Now for Navajo Chief Blankets 

  • Beth Barth
Special Honors to Master Weaver Helene Nez

Special Honors to Master Weaver Helene Nez

AYA Optical celebrates Indigenous Art.  Founder and president, Carla D’Angelo founded Claudia Alan Inc. in 2003 with a vision to create beautiful eyewear and accessories that make a difference.  

Master Weaver Helene Nez's work has been chosen to grace one of AYA's newest frames.  Not only is it an honor to be chosen, AYA pays a royalty to the artist.  Congratulations Helene!  

To support AYA/Claudia Alan Designs and Helene please go to their website at:   Claudia Alan Inc

Below is the award winning weaving which influenced the frame design:

helene nez with teec nos pos pictorial




  • Beth Barth
What's In It for You?

What's In It for You?

Well, it is up to your interpretation.  We are talking images in Navajo weavings.  It is said that only 1% of Navajo weavings from the late 1800's to present have pictorial images.  If pictorials or weavings with pictorial images have been off your list, you might want to re-think the design style.

Starting in the 1870's weavers were encouraged to move away from weaving only wearing blankets to weaving rugs, items for the tourist trade, commission pieces and more.  As time passed weavers began to incorporate personal expression. Objects they saw or imagined would make their way into a weaving.  It could be something as simple as letters of the alphabet, numbers, spiritual image or an object they saw.  What do the images mean?  That is where interpretation comes into play. 

Below is a selection of weavings with pictorial elements.  Click here to view our entire pictorial collection.

Transitional Pictorial Navajo Weaving: Historic : JV 109

Transitional Pictorial Navajo Weaving: Historic : JV 109 : $ 9,000


Yei Foxtail Navajo Weaving : Historic : GHT 2168

Yei Foxtail Navajo Weaving : Historic : 1939 : GHT 2168 : $ 9,500


Double Navajo Saddle Blanket : Antique : JV 102

Double Navajo Saddle Blanket : Antique : JV 102 : $ 6,500


 Pictorial - Squaw Dance Navajo Weaving : Juanita Tsosie : B-13

Pictorial - Squaw Dance Navajo Weaving : Juanita Tsosie : B-13 : $10,000


Teec Nos Pos Pictorial Navajo Rug Weaving : Slocum Klah : 24 Cans:  PC 14

Teec Nos Pos Pictorial Navajo Rug Weaving : 24 Cans: PC 14 : $ 19,500


 Germantown Masonic Pictorial Tapestry : Navajo : Historic : PC 4

Germantown Masonic Pictorial Tapestry : Navajo : Historic : PC 4 : $ 18,000


  • Beth Barth
Not Just Another Pretty Face!

Not Just Another Pretty Face!

A dear client who lives in England recently lent one of his historic Navajo saddle blankets to his friend Julia Roberts and her award winning dressage horse Crunchie. Douglas thought Crunchie would look smashing wearing the saddle blanket. We agree. We also think Crunchie is absolutely beautiful au naturel. Love of Navajo weaving knows no borders - thank you Douglas, Julia and Crunchie for sharing.

  • Beth Barth