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date: 18 February 2020

Stevens, Fred [ Grey Squirrel ]locked

(b Sheep Springs, NM, 1922; d Gallup, NM, April 23, 1983).
  • Frank Kempster

Extract

[ Grey Squirrel ]

(b Sheep Springs, NM, 1922; d Gallup, NM, April 23, 1983).

Navajo sand painter. Stevens, also known as Grey Squirrel, was a Navajo artist and ceremonial singer known for furthering the practice of permatizing sand paintings. He was born into the Kinyaà áanii clan. As a boy his father taught him the Blessingway chant and Stevens conducted his first ceremony when he was 18. Sand painting was a part of some ceremonies.

Beginning in 1946, Stevens gave roadside demonstrations of sand painting near a tourist shop near Lupton, AZ, and experimented with permatizing his work but he was not satisfied with the results. In 1952 he began working with Luther Douglas, an Anglo artist from Sun Valley, ID, and tried various methods to improve his technique. He worked with Otomi artist David Villaseñor who developed a permatizing method that became a hobby kit sold on the railroad lines to entertain passengers. Once Stevens settled on a method, other Navajo artists began emulating his technique. He accommodated the publicity of his sand painting technique, which accelerated the acceptance of sand painting as an art form. In the late 1950s, he performed over 100 demonstrations on live television as well as at the Arizona State Fair and Arizona State Museum....

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