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3/20/2012 9:39:00 AM
Artist Shonto Begay in residence at South Rim
Residency through March 31 part of
Artist Shonto Begay will discuss his work Thurday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Ages in Grand Canyon National Park.
Artist Shonto Begay will discuss his work Thurday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Ages in Grand Canyon National Park.
Rene Westbrook

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Until March 31, Grand Canyon's south rim Artist-in-Residence program is honored to host Arizona painter Shonto Begay in our invitational Master Artist series.

Begay is a contemporary painter who expresses his worldview and life experiences through lush, vibrant and energetic brush strokes. His work is directly, humorously, poignantly and powerfully informed by his Navajo culture and family and tribal traditions, as well as his deep connection to the natural world, reservation life and contemporary environmental concerns. His paintings come from the complex place where those individual and universal concerns and experiences intersect.

Begay was born in the Black Mesa area of the Navajo reservation, up towards Kayenta. His mother, Faye Begay, was a weaver and a sheepherder, and his father, Mailboy Begay, was a medicine man. His childhood was spent immersed in the red rock desert of northern Arizona - a both raucous and subtle landscape that you really have to step out into in order to see the richness of. Begay was forced to attend government boarding schools - a lonesome, degrading and isolating experience that included moving the children with no warning and keeping them from home visits during the school year.

Begay had both the experience of a culturally rich and loving household full of siblings, and a cold and frightening boarding school experience isolated from family; his art expresses the joys and heartbreak that both of those life experiences gave him. After graduating from high school, Begay earned degrees from the Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and California College of Arts and Crafts (Oakland, CA). He was a National Park Service Ranger for 10 years before becoming a full-time studio artist and activist.

Begay's art exhibits are extensive and varied including formal gallery shows, plein air events (his painting in last year's GCA Celebration of Art earned a People's Choice Award), lectures and workshops. Echo Canyon Arts will feature his work in a group show during the upcoming Artwalk for Flagstaff's First Friday celebration (April 6th, 14 North San Francisco Street, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.), and he is currently showing at Sky Harbor Airport (Phoenix) in the group centennial show "Arizona Valentine" (through June 3rd).

Begay's work has been shown in more than 50 galleries and exhibits, including The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian (Santa Fe, NM) the American Indian Contemporary Art Museum (San Francisco, CA) and Phoenix Art Museum. Begay is also a regular writer for Flag Live, the northern Arizona arts and events weekly paper.

Begay's invitational Master Artist residency coincides with Grand Canyon's annual Archeology Month celebrations and events, which culminate with the focused Archeology Day of workshops, lectures and hands-on activities on March 24. That evening Begay will present an artist talk in-conjunction with this celebration; he will discuss his work and the continuity of Navajo culture and traditions, in context with the day's earlier events. This artist talk is at Shrine of the Ages, 7:30 p.m., and is family friendly and free to the public. Don't miss the opportunity to hear Begay discuss his work as an artist, environmental activist and social justice advocate.

For complete Archeology Day schedule and information, please visit our website at

Grand Canyon's artist-in-residence program is currently accepting artist application/proposals, with a deadline of April 1 for both the south and north rim programs. For complete application criteria and information, visit

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