Mission Statement: The Painted Desert Project connects public artists with communities through mural opportunities on the Navajo Nation.
In June of 2009 I started a self-funded, public art project on the Navajo Nation, Western Agency, I called “Big.” I went back through 22 years of negatives and started blowing photographs up larger than life and wheat pasting them onto roadside stands and abandoned buildings. I’m still amazed at the resonance this project has with people on the reservation and amongst travelers passing through. I’m thankful for having found this form of self expression as a means of relating to the community where I’ve lived and worked for almost half of my life.
Shortly after I started wheat pasting I met a fellow street artist based in Prescott, AZ named Yote through the street art blog, Vandalog. For 2 years after that we collaborated on installations on the Navajo Nation, Tucson and Flagstaff.
House in Bitter Springs (collaboration with Yote), October 2009
Black Mesa Junction (collaboration with Yote), October 2009
The western agency of the Navajo Nation is strategically located between the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon to the west, Lake Powell and Zion to the north, Monument Valley and Navajo National Monument to the East and Canyon de Chelley to the south. The area receives a tremendous volume of traffic.
Many families supplement their income by selling handmade jewelry along the road in homemade stalls. These stalls were some of the first places I installed my art and over the years I’ve developed friendships with the families.
Gray Mountain, October 2009
In an effort to boost tourism on the reservation, to supplement the incomes of families with roadside stands, and to nurture the creative talent of local youth, I invited a few world-renowned street artists to come to the Navajo Nation to paint murals in 2012 and have continued doing so as funding allows. This is the Painted Desert Project.