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Exhibit of Native American art coming to Evergreen

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By Sara Miller

Jack Lima blames his mother for his obsession with Native American art. “She had this arrowhead that I coveted when I was 5 years old. I wanted to know everything about it. Who made? Why did they use it? But I had to get married and open a gallery before she would give it to me,” says Lima.

Lima met his wife, Robin, at a wine tasting in Evergreen 33 years ago. The two shared a love of art and Native American culture. They curated their first show, an exhibition of the work of nature photographer Boyd Norton, at Evergreen National Bank. Four years later, they opened their own gallery on 13th Avenue in Denver, the Native American Trading Co.

Now the couple, in partnership with the Center for the Arts Evergreen, are bringing an exhibit of their own to their hometown. The exhibit, called “Diné  — The Navajo Way,” opens Feb. 1 at the Center for the Arts Evergreen. “Diné” comes from a prayer in a Navajo blessing ceremony. It means “walk in beauty.” 

“We have a lot of Navajo weavings in the gallery,” says Robin Riddel Lima. “That was really our first love. When we carry works of a culture, we always stay with the traditional work of the culture. The Navajo women were weavers. The Navajo believe that Spiderwoman brought their people up from the center of the Earth and taught the women how to weave.”

The Evergreen show will contain several Navajo weavings from the Native American Trading Co., as well weavings on loan from the Hiwan Homestead Museum. Father Douglas, who lived at the Hiwan Homestead, was an avid collector of Native American art. A lot of the pieces from the family’s collection are housed at the Denver Art Museum, and the Hiwan Homestead has maintained an extensive collection of authenticated Navajo weavings.

In addition to textile art, “Diné — The Navajo Way” will showcase paintings, photographs and jewelry. The Native American Trading Co. has an extensive collection of vintage photogravures of the Navajo by photo historian Edward S. Curtis. The Limas’ are one of the five largest dealers of Curtis’ work in the world. Attendees will also view limited-edition, hand-signed lithographs by Navajo artist R.C. Gorman.

In addition to much of the vintage work, the show will feature the work of contemporary Navajo artists. “The Navajo Way” will showcase the work of Ron Henry, a Navajo jeweler from Arizona.

“The tradition of jewelry making has been carried on from generation to generation of Navajos,” Jack Lima says. “Ron Henry is not what most people would consider to be a traditional-style jewelry maker. He creates very contemporary work in a very traditional way.”

The Center for Arts will host an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1.

“We are excited to bring this show to Evergreen,” says Becky Guy, director of exhibitions and marketing for the Center for the Arts Evergreen. “We are always looking for exhibitions that offer an educational component in addition to a standard gallery show.”

Jack Lima will lead a Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from noon to 1 p.m. Lima will lead visitors through the gallery and tell stories about specific pieces in the collection. The talk will keep with the tradition of the Native American Trading Co. and the exhibition — to walk in beauty.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.

 

‘Dine — The Navajo Way’

An exhibition of vintage and contemporary art from the Native American Trading Co. at Center for the Arts Evergreen.

Opening reception will be on Friday, Feb. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.; the exhibit will be on display through March 7.

For more information, visit www.evergreenarts.orgor call 303-674-0056.