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 Fred "Grey Squirrel" Stevens Jr.  (1922 - 1983)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico / Mexico      Known for: Native American sand painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
"Corn Offering"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A Navajo medicine man who spent years working in collaboration with Luther Douglas, an Indian trader from Sun Valley, Idaho, before a satisfactory permatizing technique was developed. Stevens first began experimenting with methods to permatize as early as 1946, but it was not until sometime in the mid - 1950's that his efforts met with success.  A short time later, sand paintings began to be marketed by other Navajo artists.

Fred Stevens, Jr., was born in Sheep Springs, New Mexico, in 1922, a member of the Kinyaà áanii clan. His mother was a diagnostician and his father a Blessingway singer (he was also a clan grandson of Hosteen K1ah, probably the most renowned of Navajo medicine men).  Stevens' father began teaching his son the Blessingway Chant when he was six years old. At the age of eighteen Stevens conducted his first Blessingway ceremony, but his apprenticeship in other chants continued for many more years until he was eventually ordained as a singer for the Nightway, Blessingway and Female Shootingway chants.

Stevens finished high school at Fort Wingate, New Mexico during World War II, but his education did not stop there.  He was an avid reader, who spent hours absorbed in newspapers, the encyclopedia and other books.  One of the most notable traits of this man was that he was not bound by one culture - he spent a great deal of time with Anglos but was able to retain his contacts with other Navajos.

Accompanied by his wife, Bertha, who was a rug weaver, Stevens spent years touring and demonstrating the art of sand painting.  He often appeared at fairs, art shows, and museums.  He first demonstrated at the Arizona State Fair in 1950.  He then toured for the State Department through the encouragement of Luther Douglas, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Association, and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the Department of the Interior.

In 1967 and again in 1970, Bertha and Fred Stevens toured Europe and demonstrated at Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth II.  In the United States, Stevens demonstrated at the Arizona State Museum, the Hudson River Museum, Denver Art Museum, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Horniman Museum in London, and the Smithsonian Institute as well as hundreds of others.

Until Mr. Stevens death on April 23, 1983, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens often acted as goodwill ambassadors for the United States State Department, where they traveled to different countries around the world.  Mr. Stevens demonstrating Sand paintings and Ms, Stevens demonstrated Navajo Rug weaving.  The Stevens traveled to England, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Mexico, Japan, South America and Canada.

Information courtesy of Steve Harris, whose family were friends of the artist's and collectors of his work.


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