H eritage Fine Arts just handed a $1,950 check last week (April 28) to Marci Lameman, sister of well-known Diné/Navajo artist Andersen Kee.
The check is the first of more hoped-for assistance to aid folks in dire circumstances in Navajo Nation - many of whom are elderly or without electricity or running water - who are especially at risk during this current coronavirus pandemic.
Heritage gallery director Tree Menane said it was their popular artist Roberto Ugalde who told him about the Navajo Nation being under the pandemic siege.
"Frequent hand-washing?" Ugalde said by phone last week from his home in Giddings, Texas. "A lot don't even have running water or power. I have a bunch of friends on Facebook who are Native Americans, and Navajo - who used to own all this land, and now they have nothing - they're pushed to places with no water even. That makes me so angry."
Ugalde told Menane about the situation and donated three oil paintings April 20, which Menane listed on the Heritage Fine Arts Facebook page:
"In an effort to help the people without power or water in the Navajo Nation, we are selling these three paintings and 100 percent will be donated - please buy and help, they are in so much need in this time! All 12x9 oils [are] $650 each plus shipping. Contact us here or call Tree at (928) 300-5193."
Ugalde's three oils - "Aspen Fall Light," "Mountain Lake" and "Apple Fall" - sold within two days, and Menane paid for the shipping. Over $2,000 was donated to the Diné Nation when the cost of shipping is included in the transactions.
"That's what we've been able to do while we're closed," Menane said, elated and proud of the fundraiser's results. Three more watercolor donations, two from Gayle Weisfield and one from Andersen Kee, were added last week to support the Diné cause.
"We don't take anything from the sale of the work," Menane said, referring to galleries who donate 20 or 50 percent of a sale to a fundraiser, basically using the fundraiser to sell art. "The pieces are donated by the artists and 100 percent goes to the charity - we don't put a reserve on anything.
"I called Andersen [Kee] and he called his sister Marci, who had ordered five gallons of hand sanitizer that she was picking up, and she stopped in Taos to pick up the check today [April 28]."
Two days after announcing the fundraiser on Facebook, Menane posted news and gratitude for the sales.
"Thank you everyone for being so receptive to our fundraising effort for this cause. We have added an original watercolor by Andersen Kee to the pieces available."
The "Victory Ride" watercolor by Andersen Kee is $1,300 plus shipping.
The "Grateful" watercolor by Gayle Weisfield is $525 plus shipping; and "Mountain Magic" by Weisfield is $750 plus shipping.
Gallery openings postponement
A sign in the window last week at Parsons Fine Art, 122 Kit Carson Road, announcing a May 4 opening has changed. The gallery will be reopening on May 15, as per Gov. Lujan Grisham's most recent April 23 order.
Heritage Fine Arts is located at the same address, in the Wengart Building compound, and Menane said he will open the same day Parsons gallery open.
According to Taos Gallery Association President Rob Nightingale of Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, at 133 Kit Carson Road, all galleries that he knows of are awaiting the governor's advice.
"There's a lot of hearsay about what is right and what is wrong," Nightingale said by phone April 28. As far as he knows, until given the go-ahead by the state, galleries will open by appointment only, and at that, with pandemic safety measures still to be determined by the governor. To be sure of requirements, call any gallery you're interested in for details.