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Artist Bios

  • Geneva Apachito was born in 1969 in Soccoro, New Mexico. Geneva was raised in Alamo. She was taught to do silver work by her mother, Genevieve Apacheto.
  • Raymond Apachito, Navajo, was born in Alareo, New Mexico. Age 61 and has been silver smithing for 35 years. (2006)  
  • Erma Arviso was born in 1960 in Canoncito, New Mexico. Erma’s mother, Jolene Shorty, taught her to silversmith in 1989.
  • Stewart Alonzo, Navajo, is a 43 year old Navajo fetish carver and resides with his family in Ramah, New Mexico. He has been carving for more than 15 years and is self-taught creating his own unique style of carving. He specializes in carving heart-lined tabletop fetishes, also sculpter-like bears, buffalos, rams, sheep, wolves, coyotes, eagles and many other animals ranging in size up to 10 inches.He has traveled extensively throughout the US participating in major arts and craft shows and by special invitation as a featured artist. (2005)
  • Les Baker, southwest artist from New Mexico, was born in 1935. Les learned to silversmith in 1962 when his wife {ex-wife now} wanted a squash blossom necklace. Les couldn’t afford to buy one for her so he went out and bought the tools to do so. At a Christmas party, Mrs. Maisel asked where she got the necklace and his told her that her husband made it. From there upon request from Mrs. Maisel, Les went to work for the Maisels. Les has also worked for Carl Louthy, Navajo. Since then, he and his current wife, Shirley Baker, have been making sterling silver and turquoise jewelry that has been a favorite with collecters. Les Baker is extremely talented and draws out his new free-flowing designs first on paper before creating in silver. Each piece is designed around the stone. His style varies from hand stamped and repousse to some of his most unique pieces that  have free flowing silver work designs reminiscent of those in nature. Over the years, he has had many silversmiths that have worked for him such as Fritson Toledo, Johnny Watson and Harry Sandoval. Les passed away February 13, 2014. Picture
  • Darryl Becenti was born in 1957 in Gallup, New Mexico. He was taught to do silver work by his brother-in-laws, David and Leroy Reeves in 1980. Darryl is also a sandpainter.  
  • Calvin Begay, Navajo, was born in 1965 and resides in Tohatchi, Gallup, New Mexico. Calvin works in both silver and gold. He creates traditional Navajo stamp work jewelry and specializes in mosaic inlay jewelry. Calvin is a recognized, top-winning Navajo jeweler that has been praised for his designs and workmanship.
  • Steven Begay, Navajo, works in gold and silver overlay jewelry since 1975.  He has won many awards for his work and his jewelry is shown at finer Native American galleries in New Mexico and Arizona. Full name is Steven Joe Begay and stamps his work: SBJ or Steven J Begay in small gothic print.             
  • Wilson Begay, Navajo, is from Manuelito, New Mexico. He works with his wife, Carol Begay. Wilson and Carol create traditional to contemporary sand cast jewelry and also traditional Navajo stamp work jewelry with a variety of gems. Their craftsmanship, design and style are top-quality. 
  • Ernest Benally, Navajo, was born in 1959. Ernest works in both silver and gold and is also an excellent lapidary. H is known for his mosaic inlay jewelry and has won top awards for his jewelry. He is considered to be one of the best Navajo jewelers.
  • Fernando Benally, Navajo, was born on April 24, 197 in Gallup, New Mexico and is of the Navajo Tsinajinnie/Nakaii Clans. Fernando learned his craft from Ernest and Chester Benally. He works both in silver and gold with designs varying from traditional to contemporary. Fernando creates jewelry with set stones and mosaic inlay and has won awards.
  • Louise Bia, Navajo, 45, comes from an accomplished family of silversmiths. She is married to Arther Bia and has three children.
  • Gomeo Bobelu, Zuni, was born December 25, 1964 and is from the Badger Clan and Child of the Corn Clan. He is the son of Lorraine Laweka and grandson of Elizabeth Waseta Cooche & Bennie Laweka; Maxine Wato-Wytewa. He is the father of Amber and Shelby Bobelu. He has exhibited at the Heard Museum and won awards from Goodman Fellowship &Wheelwright Museum. He creates mosaic inlay jewelry, graphics and photography.            
  • Anderson Cadman was born in Twin Lakes, New Mexico. Anderson was taught to do silver work by his stepson, David Reeves. He is Andy, Darrell and Donavon Cadman’s father and stepfather to Gary and Sunshine Reeves.
  • Andy Cadman was born in 1966 in Gallup, New Mexico. He started to work with silver in 1989. Andy is Gary and Sunshine Reeves’ half brother and was taught by them.
  • Darrell Cadman was born in 1969 in Gallup, New Mexico. Darrell started working with silver in 1992. He is Andy and Donavon’s brother and half brother to Gary and Sunshine Reeves.
  • Donavan Cadman was born in 1968 in Gallup, New Mexico. Donavon started to work with silver in 1991 and learned by watching his brothers, Andy, Darrell and Sunshine. 
  • Freddy Charley, Navajo, was born in 1962 in Shiprock, New Mexico. He is a  self-taught silversmith who learned from buffing and also from Randy Shorty. He makes beautiful three dimensional silver kachina dolls. Married with 3 children. C203-533
  • Ronald Chavez was born and raised in Santo Domingo Pueblo. He comes from a family that has been making turquoise jewelry for years and picked up his craft at a very early age. Ronald is well known for his turquoise and sponge coral slab earrings, turquoise heishi necklaces, and also using a variety of other gemstones to create new designs. Ronald creates smooth hand cut turquoise heishi necklaces and slab earrings.  He has been carrying on his family tradition for well over 30 years.
  • Albert H. Cleveland was born December 19, 1954 and belongs to the Dashchanii clan, Navajo. He is the son of Etta and Phillip Cleveland and brother of Bobby Cleveland. Albert specializes in making old style jewelry.
  • Terry Charlie, Navajo, was born in 1966 in Tuba City, Arizona. He has been a silversmith for 15 years and was taught by his grandfather, Juan Platero from Canoncito, New Mexico. (2006)
  • Thomas Charley, Navajo, was born on June 3, 1956 to Joan and Joe Sandoval. Tom creates traditional and contemporary silver jewelry and has won awards.
  • Daniel Coriz, Santo Domingo, was taught by his parents, Valentino and Nestoria Coriz. He has been creating hand cut inlay and heishe since 1989. His formal education is as a registered nurse. He has two sons: one of which is currently learning the art of jewelry making.
  • Emerson Delgarito, Navajo, lives in Gallup, New Mexico and is known for his handstamped silver work. He has been a silversmith all of his life and learned from both his father and grandfather. He enjoys his life on the reservation and maintaining the traditional Navajo lifestyle.
  • Beverly Etsate, Zuni, is the mother of Carl Etsate, fetish carver, and the daughter of famed Zuni artists, Rosalie and Augustine Pinto. Bev continues her parent’s tradition of inlay jewelry and has become recognized for her style of raised, mosaic inlay jewelry. Her favorite designs are kachinas, mudheads and bears.
  • Archie Ganadonegro was born in Alamo, New Mexico in 1954. He started silver work in 1984 and his wife, LaRose, works with him.
  • LaRose Ganadonegro was born in 1956 in Crown Point, New Mexico. She started to work with silver in 1984 and works along side her husband, Archie.
  • Delbert Gordon was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona in 1955. He was raised in Tohatchi, New Mexico. Delbert is a self taught silversmith and goldsmith. He has been a good teacher for other silversmiths. 
  • Derrick Gordon was born in Gallup, New Mexico in 1971. He was taught by his uncle, Delbert Gordon, to silversmith in 1990.
  • Arnie Gasper, Zuni, was born in 1972 and is the son of Rose Gasper and brother to Duran Gasper. Arnie creates mosaic, channel inlay jewelry, pottery and fetishes. He started making small earrings in the eighth grade and later learned how to inlay from his uncle, Gus Panteah. After high school graduation, he worked in Gallup as a silver caster for one year and then worked for jewelry designer Ray Traci for four years. Arnie has won many prizes for his work and is known for his lightning bracelets.
  • Duran Gasper, Zuni, was born in 1970 and is the son of Rose Gasper and brother to Arnie Gasper. Duran learned clusterwork from his mother, Rose, and inlaying from his brother, Arnie. Like his brother, Arnie, Duran worked for jewelry designer Ray Traci as an inlayer.
  • Emma Lincoln, Navajo, was born in Brigham City, Utah and was raised in Vanderwagon, New Mexico. She began to silversmith when she was 15 years old. Emma got married, had five children and shortly after her husband passed away. Emma has made alot of jewelry to support her family and to pay the bills. She is still working as a silversmith in Gallup, New Mexico.
  • Darrin Livingston, Navajo, lives in Church Rock, New Mexico, where he has lived most of his life and are where his father and grandfather are from.  He lives there with his family of four girls and one granddaughter. He learned his silversmith trade at the age of 13 years old. Darrin attended  a boarding school in the early years of his life and spent most of his time there because his parents were struggling alcoholism. He went to a public high school in which he really enjoyed. After graduation, he really got serious with earning a living from the silversmith trade. 
  • Felix Joe Navajo, 1961, is from the Bread Springs area by Gallup, NM. He is married with three children. He learned silversmithing from his parents and has been smithing for 20 years. He enjoys travel and rodeo.
  • Francis Jones, Navajo, is an award winning artist who learned silversmithing at the age of 14. Francis learned the craft from her father, a fourth generation silversmith. Her family was among the first to sandcast. With the craft of sandcasting she combined that with the track styles or channel work that she is so known so well for today. Francis has won may awards and still does today for her silverwork done in the traditional way of her ancestors. Several of her children are accomplished silver smiths who carry on the tradition ways of the craft. Francis is known by galleries and collectors from around the world who know of her and seek her jewelry. pic
  • Eloise Kee, Navajo, married to Eugene Balone and has 9 children. Lives in Gallup, New Mexico.
  • Guy Hoskie, Navajo, was born in 1952 and lives in Window Rock, Arizona. Married with 2 sons. He has been a silversmith for 18-20 years and learned from relatives. (2006)
  • Alvin Lee, Navajo. Cousin of Albert Jake.
  • Verden Mansfield is Hopi from the Bear Strap Clan and lives in Shungopavi, Second Mesa, Arizona. Verden was taught silversmithing from his father, Vernon Mansfield and has won many awards.
  • Vern Mansfield is the brother of Verden and Benjamin Mansfield and the son of Vernon Mansfield. Vern is Hopi from the Bear Strap Clan and resides in Shungopavi, Second Mesa, Arizona.
  • Calvin Martinez, Navajo, was born in 1960. Calvin is the brother to Terry Martinez, Reada Martinez Begay and Karen Martinez Charley. Calvin creates his jewelry in the traditional style of the first Navajo silversmiths a century ago. He is a top-quality silversmith.
  • Leon Martinez, Navajo, was born in 1962, originally from Prewitt, New Mexico. Leon learned to silversmith at a young age and was influenced by a well known artist. He specializes in traditional old style Navajo jewelry. He says: " My Prayers helped me to advance making designs and it helped me to perfect by craftsmanship. My goal is to make new and unique jewelry."  Picture       
  • Barbie Monte was born in Soccoro, New Mexico in 1970. She was raised in Alamo, New Mexico. Barbie was taught to do silver work in 1992 by her sisters and mother, Margie Monte.
  • Gibson Nez grew up on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Dulce, New Mexico. He is three-quarters Navajo and one-quarter Jicarilla Apache. Gibson Nez is a self taught silversmith, former rodeo bronc rider. He has won the prestigious Smithsonian Medal of Honor, more than 700 blue ribbons and has been featured in magazines and books. He has been a featured guest artist in many museums and galleries across the United States. Gibson is known for his fine-line chisel work and his skillful inlay of turquoise, coral, lapis and other gemstones. He uses no castings in his work. His jewelry is in the private collections of such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor, Willie Nelson, Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn, Joan Lunden and many others.  (deceased)
  • Leonard Nez, Navajo, is from Canoncito, New Mexico. Leonard is a master silversmith who works both in silver and gold and has won awards at some of the most prestigious competitions. Leonard Nez is a quiet and deeply spiritual man who finds his inspiration from the Lord, his daughter and from the people who appreciate his work.
  • Happy Piaso, Navajo, is 40 years old (2014) and is married to Rudie Willie. She was born and raised in Alamo, New Mexico and has 2 children, one of which is in the military. Happy was taught the craft of silversmithing by her husband, Rudie.
  • Benjamin Piaso, Navajo, was born in 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was taught by his father in 1984 and has won an award at the New Mexico State Fair. (2006)
  • Lena Platero, Navajo, 1954, is a self taught silversmith who makes remarkable feather jewelry. "Platero" means silversmith. C203-498
  • Bennie Ration, Navajo, was born March 21, 1955 on the Canoncito Navajo Reservation in New Mexico to Frances and John Ration. Benny grew up watching his father making jewelry and by age eleven was making his first pieces. His father told him that no matter what else he did with his life he would always have silversmithing to fall back on. Throughout his childhood, Bennie was a talented artist. After he graduated from high school, he enrolled in a one year program at U.S. Silkscreen and Graphics School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Upon completion of the course he worked for three years as a silkscreener and graphic designer. In 1978, he "fall back” on the art of silversmithing. With a look and style that he had developed as a graphic designer, he began making three-dimensional figures in silver. He became inspired to make three-dimensional spiritual beings like those found in ancient rock art. His many wearable, art designs include kachina figures, Southwestern animals, feathers and Navajo inspired geometric patterns. When asked how he comes up with his designs, he says, "I remember what I see and make pieces in my mind.” Benny is considered by many as one of the greatest contemporary Indian jewelry silversmiths of our time. His jewelry is collected by collectors and enthusiasts all across the world. 
  • Charlene Sanchez- Reano, San Felipe, was born in 1960. She is married to Frank Reano, Santo Domingo, and collaborates with her husband in making jewelry.. Her teacher was her sister-in-law, Angie Reano Owen. Charlene specializes in traditional Santo Domingo mosaic inlay jewelry and silver jewelry. She has won many awards at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market and has exhibited at many Indian art shows and museums. Picture
  • Frank Reano, Santo Domingo, was born in 1962.  He is the husband of Charlene Sanchez Reano. He is the great-great-grandson of Dolorita Baca Leandro & Jose Leandro; great-grandson of Benina Silva & Francisco Silva; grandson of Monica Silva & Santiago Lovato; grandson of Isidro Reano and the son of Joe I. Reano & Clara Lovato Reano. His siblings are Vicky Reano Tortalita, Rose Reano, Celestino Reano, Angie Reano Owen, Joe I. Reano, Percy Reano & Avelino Reano. Frank has won awards at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market and has had his work shown at many Indian art shows and museums. He specializes in traditional mosaic inlay jewelry and heishi jewelry. Picture        
  • Gary Reeves, Navajo, was born in 1962 in Gallup, New Mexico. Gary started silver work in 1974 and is the brother to Sunshine Reeves and David Reeves. He shows at the Herd Museum and has won many awards.
  • Sunshine Reeves {Daniel Reeves} was born in 1966. He is the brother of Gary and David Reeves. He is a recognized and award winning silversmith. 
  • Harry Sandoval, Navajo, was born 1943 in Canoncito, New Mexico. Harry is a self taught silversmith and has worked as a silversmith since he was 25 years old. He has worked with Les Baker for 15 years.
  • Thomas Singer and/or known as Tommy Singer, Navajo, was born in 1940 and is from Winslow, Arizona. He learned silversmithing from his father. Tommy first became well known for his chip inlay style of jewelry. Today, he and his family also make traditional heavy stamp work and overlay jewelry. 
  • Fritson Toledo, Navajo, was born in September, 1961, in Cuba, New Mexico. Fritson started working with silver in 1976. He is a self taught silversmith who works both in silver and gold. Fritson creates hand-fabricated, heavy stamp work jewelry like that of Navajos a century ago. He has worked with Les Baker for 22 years and has won many awards for his work.
  • Orville Tsinnie, Navajo, is from Shiprock, New Mexico and is the son of Ann Yellowhorse. Orville is known for his traditional, hand-fabricated and heavy stamp work jewelry. He has won many awards.
  • Ervin Tsosie, Navajo, was born September 1, 1970 and is the brother of Irving Tsosie. Ervin is known for his intricate, mosaic and channel inlay jewelry. He has won many awards for his work.
  • Quandelacy Family – The matriarch of the family is Ellen Quam Quandelacy {1920’s-2002} from Zuni, New Mexico. She is famous for her fetishes and channel inlay jewelry. She was the daughter of Johnny Quam who was her first teacher. Her first husband was Floyd Bobelu and her second is Dixie Quandelacy. Her children are Emmett Bobelu, Albenita Yunie, Andres Quandelacy, Avery Quandelacy, Barlow Quandelacy, Dickie Quandelacy, Faye Quandelacy, Georgiann Quandelacy, Sandra Quandelacy, Stewart Quandelacy and Wilmur Quandelacy. Amy Quandelacy was the formerly married to Dickie Quandelacy. The Quandelacy family is well known for their fetish carvings and each carver has their own unique style.
  • Kateri Sanchez-Quandelacy, daughter of Georgia Quandelacy, Zuni, and Daniel Sanchez, Acoma,. Born March 16, 1984 in Zuni. "Learned fetish carving from Georgia at age 9. Began with bears & turtles until Faye taught her daughter, Talia, and I how to carve maidens, age 9. First participated in Santa Fe Indian Market at age 10 and carved on and off through the years. Become serious about artwork after having my daughter in 2004. 2007 was my first year at Santa Fe Indian Market, actually my art show, as a real participating artist, I received the blue ribbon for my category (sculpture). Also won 2nd and 3rd place at the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial this year as well. Plan to attend the Heard Show in March and will participate in the Wheelwright Museum's Native Treasures Show in May and then the Indian Market in August." (Submitted by Kateri, December 2007)  
  • Alice Quam, Zuni, learned her craft from her parents, Wayne and Doris Ondelacy, who are well known for their cluster jewelry from the 1930’s to 1950’s. Alice is known for her fabulous cluster work and has won many awards. She has been featured in magazines, galleries and museums. Her work is sought after by collectors worldwide. She is the mother of Lorraine Waatsa, Alvina Quam, Shirley Quam, Wayne Quam and Elgin Quam.

This is a partial list of some of the silversmiths work we feature. From time to time, as we receive them, we will add new bios. If you are interested in learning more about certain artists or hallmarks two of our favorite books on silversmiths and hallmarks are by Gregory Schaaf and Barton Wright. Schaaf's book seems to offer more in depth on known artists. Wright's book offers a wide hallmark lookup of artists and also features a section of hallmark symbol lookups. For Hopi hallmarks we recommend the book hallmark book listed below for hallmark lookups since most of their hallmarks are symbols. For some of the original Zuni silversmith’s bios and pictures of their works and of the artists themselves "Zuni: The Art & the People" is a great resource for many of the known original Zuni silversmith families.