Current Exhibition

 

 

 

I have been asked quite a few times about this remarkable photo, and people say, “Who are those guys and that woman with you”? Well, this shot was taken as Lovena, and I was moving into this beautiful space in 1987 on Marshall Way in Scottsdale by Georgia Loloma. The roster is as follows: Painter David Johns is to the far left, followed by jeweler James Little, jeweler Harvey Begay, sand painter Joe Ben Jr., jeweler Larry Golsh, Master Jeweler, painter, and potter Charles Loloma, my great aunt Lovena Ohl, the most incredible person ever, and myself, Shaliyah Ben, Joe’s daughter. Last but not least is Charles Supplee, jeweler extraordinaire!

Video Credit: Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce

 

 

Charles Loloma (1921-1991) I remember the time before I met Charles Loloma. Lovena would often visit our family in Chicago wearing his stunning jewelry, and I was always captivated by their beauty. In 1981, at 21 years old, I moved to Arizona to work at Lovena’s Gallery in Scottsdale. On my first day, Charles and Georgia Loloma came to see Lovena to discuss new pieces. Lovena never accepted gifts from Charles, so he turned to me and said, “Bill, I can never get Lovena to take a gift, but she can’t stop me from giving you anything.” That’s when he presented me with a sterling silver Kachina Mask belt buckle with ironwood and Lone Mountain Turquoise inlay. This belt buckle is currently on display at the Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West for everyone to see. In 1982, I had my first show with Charles. The first picture I posted shows the three of us at dinner after the show. He was an amazing teacher and salesman. He had attended the Dale Carnegie Schools of Salesmanship and I’ll never forget the time a woman admired a ring in the case, tried it on, and it was a perfect fit. Charles said, “Well, now I made that special just for you,” and she bought it! I visited Hopi at Charles’s studio and learned a lot about how he created his jewelry. Many people think his bracelets were all made through lost wax casting, but that wasn’t the case; he either hand-fabricated or tufa cast his bracelets. Whenever Charles met people in the gallery, I remember his talent for sketching jewelry pieces on paper to show how they would look before creating them. That was a great visual aid. I worked with Charles, and we were friends for over ten years until he passed away in 1991. I adored Charles; he was so good to Lovena and me. He shared beautiful stories about Hopi culture and the significance of each piece he created. Occasionally, he would share his wild party stories, making me laugh today. I still experience Charles’s artistry through the pieces people bring to the gallery or with his Niece Sonwai, who continues to showcase her jewelry in my galleries today.William Faust II

James Littles has an exceptionally heartfelt story among all the artists I have worked with. At a young age, he was sent to a boarding school, where they discovered that he was deaf. Unable to provide him with the necessary support, they sent him back home to Pinon, Arizona. Growing up, James became a sheep herder with his family. His brother noticed that James had a talent for carving wood while he was tending to the sheep. Because of his talent, his brother managed to get James enrolled at Navajo Community College so that he could explore all art possibilities. James crossed paths with Kenneth Begay, a famous jeweler and teacher who immediately took an interest in him and taught him the art of silversmithing. After graduating, James worked at a shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, where a doctor and his wife met James and noticed his inability to hear. Over the years, the doctor tried to persuade James to move to California for treatment to help restore his hearing. James eventually agreed, and after undergoing five operations, his hearing significantly improved. In the late 1970s, James found success making jewelry in California and attended several shows and won ribbons for his jewelry at the shows. A friend of James sent images of his work to Jerry Jacka and Arizona Highways Magazine, and asked them to recommend where James could showcase his work in Scottsdale. This led to a meeting with Lovena Ohl, who purchased all of James’ pieces and offered him assistance after Lovena discovered James couldn’t read or write. She offered to help by providing a speech therapist through her foundation from Arizona State University, who spent six years teaching James how to read and write. Today, James Little is celebrated as one of the finest American Indian silversmiths. What sets him apart is the intricate Navajo symbolism in his pieces and the high-quality materials he uses. Phoenix Home and Garden has even dubbed him “A Master Jeweler.” I continue to work with James to this day, 45 years after his encounter with Lovena.William Faust II

 

Larry Golsh The National Geographic article vol. 3 September 1981 features Charles Loloma, Larry Golsh, and Harvey Begay. The article on silver claims that Larry Golsh would be the heir apparent to Charles Loloma. In many respects, this is true. Larry Golsh’s jewelry is a testament to his creativity and unconventional approach. He pioneered a style where he delighted in placing stones in an asymmetrical format, a unique characteristic that sets his work apart from other jewelers. Rarely do you see anything that Larry made as symmetrical. His use of high-quality turquoise and other gemstones, including his use of diamonds, were influenced by Pierre Touraine, which are exceptional. Larry’s work included special orders for making fine jewelry with pave diamonds and onyx that matched anything Tiffany’s or Harry Winston could ever master, and his designs were contemporary and included the works of Munstiener, a famous gemstone cutter. William Faust II

 

Harvey Begay (1938-2009) Harvey Begay was born in 1938 in Tuba City, Arizona, the son of Kenneth Begay, who was often referred to as the Charles Loloma of Navajo jewelry. When Kenneth became a partner in The White Hogan, a shop in Scottsdale, Arizona, Harvey attended Scottsdale High while his father worked there. He then went on to graduate from Arizona State University with a degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1961. Harvey became a Navy flight officer and was a test pilot for McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, testing the Phantom Jet. During one of the test flights, Harvey had to eject from the plane due to electrical power failure and was lucky enough to survive. Following the life-altering plane crash, Harvey’s resilience and dedication to his craft shone through. He felt a strong pull to return to his roots in silversmithing with his Father, leading him to Steamboat, Colorado. In 1979, he made his way back to Phoenix, Arizona, where he began a fruitful collaboration with Lovena Ohl. A memorable moment in the gallery was when Lovena asked Harvey to make sterling silver goblets, and Harvey, who had never made goblets before, initially declined. However, Lovena encouraged him, saying that he was as talented as his father. Harvey eventually made the goblets, and they turned out stunning. Harvey was among the first jewelers to use lost-wax designs with extreme details and create a high-end line of hand-fabricated, one-of-a-kind museum pieces. Over the years, he evolved as a high-end and sophisticated jeweler, exemplifying wearable art. Sadly, Harvey passed away in 2009, leaving behind cherished memories of his exceptional friendship and artistry. Before his passing, he established the “Harvey A. Begay Memorial Scholarship” at Arizona State University. The scholarship helps American Indian undergraduate students pursue their degrees and is still active today. To donate to the scholarship, please contact ASU at 480-727-7448.William Faust II

 

 

 

AL Nez Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of Al Nez here in Santa Fe, but his quality of jewelry fills in just fine. I first met Al in 1981 in Lovenas’ Gallery. Al Nez is the most overlooked jeweler in 2024 out of the five we discussed this past week. His designs combine traditional techniques with a contemporary flare, using exceptional turquoise and other stones, such as Lapis or Coral. He could fit them together seamlessly like no other jeweler. Al Nez’s talent and dedication were not in vain. They were finally acknowledged when he was awarded the prestigious Annual Intertribal Ceremonial in Gallup, New Mexico, for his exceptional tufa casting. His designs caught the eye of Jerry and Louis Jacka, who included him in their famous books Beyond Traditions, Enduring Traditions, and Navajo Tradition Of Southwest Art. Al’s jewelry is exceptionally made with the highest-quality materials. He deserves a serious look as someone to collect, and he belongs in everyone’s collection! William Faust II