Exhibit: Oct 2017-April 2018 Timeless Treasures of Two Grey Hills
Timeless Treasures of Two Grey Hills
From the Getzwiller Collection
October 2017 - April 2018
Historically Master Weavers from the Toadlena and Two Grey Hills areas have been some of the most talented of the Navajo Nation. The elegant simplicity of the color palette, intricate geometric design, and expert carding and spinning made their textiles some of the best and finest examples of Navajo rugs and tapestries to emerge from the Navajo Nation.
This exhibit highlights differing phases of influence on the Navajo weaver. Showcasing historic textiles we have collected over the years, as well as those commissioned from weavers we have worked with over the last 45 years.
Traders encouraged unique and signature designs for Navajo rugs in their particular area, in this case, Toadlena, and Two Grey Hills, to enhance marketability and cultivate regional styles. Sheep and their wool were vital to the livelihood of the Navajo. Using this natural resource of the sheep’s wool to make rugs, weavers created a viable economic collaboration with post traders. The traders helped the Navajo by marketing the rugs they made beyond the borders of the reservation to the rest of the country. This brought “béeso” or money to their artisan economy by turning the sheep’s wool into decorative and functional goods.
|Steve Getzwiller and Grace Nez in the Nez sheep corrals with one of Grace’s Two Grey Hills rugs, Churro 2060, 8’ x 12’ (14 months on the loom). It was featured in the exhibition: “The Getzwiller Collection of Contemporary Navajo Weavings 1975-2000”, at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Wickenburg AZ. (2000)
|Grace Nez sitting by one of her Two Grey Hill Masterpieces while reading an article about herself.
Grace Nez was the matriarch of the Nez family of Master Weavers, she won Best of Show twice at Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial (2004 and 2007) plus a multitude of awards over her lifetime. (1937 - 2013)
Design innovation and progression by osmosis… J.B. Moore, the resident trader at Crystal (1896-1911), influenced the early Two Grey Hill rug design. The weavers from the Two Grey Hill area had summer camps for grazing their sheep in the Chuska Mountains
near Crystal Trading Post.
J.B. Moore generally offered to pay a very fair price to these weavers depicting the designs presented in his mail-order catalogs. The catalog designs along with the Two Grey Hill area weaver’s preference to use the natural wool colors of their sheep, brought the design style of J.B. Moore to the Toadlena and Two Grey Hill areas, located on the east side of the Chuska Mountains.
The J.B. Moore designs, such as the storm pattern, influenced the Ganado and western reservation area weavers and contributed to the evolution of other regional styles such as Teec Nos Pos and Bistie. The Two Grey Hills regional style became more clearly defined by the 1920s, evidenced by the progression of the styles presented in this exhibit.
From the 1940s – 1950s, traders living in the area west of the Chuskas, (Leighton at Two Grey Hills and Davies at Toadlena) encouraged design innovation with the addition of small amounts of color, blue and red, to the Two Grey Hill rug design. You will see a few examples of this hint of color, in the following pages, along with some notable examples in the J.B. Moore style from the 1920s.
Peter Iverson, Regents Professor of History at Arizona State University, and leading scholar American Indian history offers this short snapshot of the development and influences of Navajo rug designs:
….. The Depression affected the course of Navajo weaving during the 1930s. Adverse economic times did not encourage the market. Nevertheless, the Santa Fe Railway, the Fred Harvey Company, and other boosters of Southwest tourism continued to bring new and return visitors to the region. The founding of the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial and the development of museums in Arizona and New Mexico furnished important venues for the display of high-quality work.Trading posts struggled in the wake of the Depression. One major figure, J.L. Hubbell, passed away in 1930. Enthusiastic newcomers, such as Bill and Sallie Lippincott, arrive at Wide Ruins. In certain areas, traders played a significant role in promoting particular regional styles. For example, Cozy McSparron of Chinle, the Lippincotts, and others helped promote the use of vegetable (plant) dyes Even under these difficult circumstances, Navajo weavers continued to create extraordinary work. Daisy Taugelchee of the Toadlena-Two Grey Hills area (photos page 32, 33), arguably the greatest of all Navajo weavers, came into her own as a remarkable artist. Other area weavers, such as Bessie Manygoats (photos page 10, 14, 15, 16), contributed to an outpouring of weaving that established Toadlena-Two Grey Hills weaving as the premier Navajo regional style.*
* Excerpted from Dine – A History of the Navajo (2002) by Peter Iverson.
“Steve Getzwiller is another entrepreneur who… tries to honor the past, attempt to live in the present, and work to help forge the future. Even if in many ways the century in with Getzwiller is operating differs dramatically from the early 1900s, he, too, is going to leave a lasting legacy.” Peter Iverson