By Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO
TUBA CITY, Ariz. - What started last year as a brainstorm art idea from Renee (Archambeau) Edwards and Barbara Peters became a whopping reality success when over 30 Native artists donated their work to be displayed in the new Tuba City Outpatient primary care center that was christened on May 7. Edwards is a local Hopi award-winning potter and hospital consultant. Peters was the "detail point woman" for the hospital's grand opening celebration.
Part of the grand opening day festivities was having many of the Native artists who generously donated their work on-hand to talk with the public at the new western agency health facility. The artists were present to "warm hearts and give a sense of calm and beauty" to the varied tribal patients who will take advantage of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporations' new building. The new facility is designed to make hospital visits and follow up medical care a more pleasant, caring and visually enlightened experience for its "REZ-ervation" clients.
Along with the adult, renowned artists who donated their work, a special group of Tuba City High School advanced oil painting students also became part of the new "hospital art collection" along with their TC High teacher-mentor, Richard Dawavendewa. Dawavemdewa is a major art show and art poster winner in southwest art circles who donated one of his own newly designed oil paintings for the new facility.
On the first floor near the entrance is a mural titled "Castle Rock" by renowned painter and muralist, Edward Whitethorne. Whitethorne incorporated a local Tuba City landscape theme to his contribution.
Whitethorne took several digital photos of "Castle Rock," which is located in the northeast corner of Tuba City for his inspiration with his final "fresco style" mural. The mural features high, craggy red sandstone spires with a herd of wild, Hashknife horses running through the valley below the Castle Rock bluffs. Whitethorne utilized soft muted greens with contrasting warm orange and crisp red tones in his mural.
"I got finished about 10:30 p.m. the night before the grand opening. I sure hope its dry," he joked.
Whitethorne is a sibling of famed book illustrator and artist Baje Whitethorne and brother graphic art designer Billy Whitethorne. Whitethorne said that day he will take a year or so off from his painting career to pursue further work on "horses" in both "shoeing" and therapeutic services.
A huge oil painting donated by Robert Manygoats from Tonalea, Ariz. titled "Spiritual Holy People" is the only piece in the new hospital art collection that incorporates a blended Hopi and Navajo tribal cultural theme. Manygoats wanted to show the close tribal association of both tribes who have managed to be neighbors, good friends, and even in-laws to one another over the past 100 years.
Award winning Hopi artist Richard Dawavendewa donated an original oil painting, titled "Seasons" with a decidedly more contemporary, abstract theme. Dawavendewa wanted to show varied seasonal changes with iconic Hopi tribal depictions of what cultural events go with the changing weather patterns. Lunar and solar cycles are highlighted in his submission. There are clear landscape references in his painting, which features the sacred San Francisco Peaks, the sun, moon and corn stalks.
Dawavendewa's two sons, Lance and Nuvakuku Dawavendewa, are following in their famous father's art footsteps and were inspired to keep "healing and beauty" in their student oil painting submittals.
Older son, Lance Dawavendewa, graduated from Tuba City High School (TCHS) in 2008. He is attending the famed Santa Fe Art School, the Institute of American Indian Art. He submittal a 5 foot high by 3 foot wide oil of a young Hopi girl with a butterfly "kopat-soki" holding a basket of ground Hopi white corn, signifying prayerful thoughts and life nurturance.
Younger son, Nuvakuku "Nuva" Dawavendewa, age 20, graduated from TCHS in 2009. His round canvas titled "Our Prayers" is a 36-inch diameter round shaped oil, which is his first attempt to use a circular painting format. Nuva wanted to send a special message through his submittal by creating a theme for "healing prayers, for healthy long life and rain, which brings moisture to plants and nourishment to the earth to sustain all life." It is his hope that this message would go out to the visiting patients of the new hospital facility.
Other TCHS advanced oil painting students included Viana "Nizhoni Nanabah" Blackwater, who is a senior. Her submittal was 5 feet high by 2 feet wide. It took her three months to complete her art piece and was inspired by the strength of tribal women for her theme focus. Her painting features a stenciled blanket design with a splatter edge border.
Her dad, brother and sister all paint and she was encouraged from an early age to also paint and draw.
The only diamond shaped canvas in the entire hospital art collection is a student oil painting titled "Basket Women." It was submitted by the art partnership duo of Ashtyn Francis and Danielle Attikai both Navajo tribal members and seniors at TCHS. Their inspiration came from Ashtyn's grandmother who told her when she was small of the Basket Woman story, how women are special in their maternal cultural roles and the significance of corn to Navajo people.
The following artists have generously donated works of art to the hospital -Troy Whitethorne, Edward Whitethorne, Marion Denipah, Tony Begay, Richard, Evan and Nuva Dawavendewa, David John, Lucita Woodis, Elwyn Shorthair, Norris Chee, Vianna Blackwater, Ashtyn Francis, Danielle Attikai, Landrick Black, Justin Ben, William Talashoma, David Dawangyumptewa, the late Clifford Beck donated by Mrs. Roselyn Beck, Robert Manygoats, Frank Honahnie, Quentin Darrell, Stan Preston and Lawrence Jackson.
More submissions are encouraged. Contact Renee Edwards at Tuba City Regional Health Care at (928) 283-2501.
Both Edwards and Peters gratefully thank the artists for their stellar examples of Native art styling and finely completed work.
"Not a single one of these artists hesitated when I called to ask for an art donation. I don't have enough words to express my appreciation their beautiful donated work and you can see how much care that went into each piece that now hangs on these hospital walls that will greet and cheer our tribal patients who come here," said Edwards. "This hospital is about healing and seeing this beautiful artwork also shows there is real beauty in the health care of our people. I am so grateful for their contributions."