About the Artist:
A member of the Bitter Water and Kayonnie clans of the Navajo, Fred Cleveland says he was born at “one of the first Indian hospitals — a hogan.” Raised in the rugged high desert mountains of Ganado, Arizona, where his family raised sheep, Fred was exposed to the arts as a young boy, watching his mother weave rugs and his father create images in the curative process of traditional Navajo sand paintings. For as long as he can remember, Fred has been a painter, and largely self-taught, although he spent valued learning time crafting the basics of his “Native American Western” style at The American Academy of the Arts in Chicago, Illinois.
Fred says of his personal style that he is hesitant to characterize himself or his work, but it does contain elements of Navajo traditionalism, realism, and his underlying love of his native southwest. He trusts in the rich earth tones that characterize his work, and in the portrayal of classic scenes of Native American life. Above all, Fred seeks to express through his paintings something about his own life, his own past, and the heritage and experiences of the Native people.
Unlike his father’s sand paintings, which are created only for a brief moment for the viewer and then destroyed, Fred, in the Navajo way, captures his unique visions and shares them for posterity. Fred claims that he is “compelled to leave a record, to leave some encouragement for the human race as a legacy for the children of the world.”
Dogbotz Boneyard has collected the modernistic artwork of Navajo painter Fred Cleveland because of his fusion of iconic Native American images with contemporary elements that convey unfolding stories of courage, hope, strength and potential that are intrinsic to the spirit of this land called Turtle Island by some, the United States by others. The face of a tribal elder surrounded by the even more ancestral voices of nature, the life-giving energy of bison before the US flag, a young boy innocently playing a flute that invokes the spirit of the wolf — these are the true stories of perennial wisdom that must guide each one of us on today’s journey. And so, from our Dogbotz Boneyard Gallery of Art for your own personal collection, we present Fred Cleveland’s Spirit of America.