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Kachinas by Americana artists

Native American Artists: Painters « back to artist list

Benson Halwood, Navajo Artist

Benson was born in 1963 in Keams Canyon, Arizona. His father, Ben Halwood, is a Liaison Aid for the boarding schools at Chinle and Many Farms on the Navajo Reservation. He is responsible for registering Indian students from the surrounding reservations. Benson's father is also an artist, as well as a minister and director in the local Presbyterian Church. Benson's Mother is a graduate of the University of Arizona and presently teaches second grade at the Chinle School. He is married; he and his wife Royetta have two children.

Benson's art interest developed in school and matured to full bloom following his graduation from the Chinle High School. Justin Tso, a well known Navajo artist, lectured the senior class. He so impressed and influenced Benson during this year that his style began to reflect these teachings. In addition Benson studied David John, Dan Namingha, and Robert Draper. Draper, in particular, became another strong influence. The Draper family and the Halwood family are related as well as close friends. Benson has received a great deal of help as well as support from Robert.

Although a student of contemporary Navajo Art, Benson is largely a self-taught artist. His work gives the viewer a strong sense of the pride of his artistry. Watercolor is the principal media for this young artist. He plans on working with acrylics or oils once he is well established in the art world with his watercolors. He has two distinct styles; both are highly individual. Most often encountered is a presentation of a people-environment theme along the lines of Harrison Begay-Justin Tso. The other is a sweeping, innovative style of work that can be described as contemporary American Indian impressionist. This latter is the style that the Ben Muir Gallery in Albuquerque selected for its 1988 show poster. Benson's poster art is highly regarded and is selling well in New Mexico.

Several Southwestern galleries now carry Halwood originals including the Durfee Gallery in Scottsdale, the House of Six Directions in Scottsdale, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Creekside Gallery and Americana Indian and Western Art Gallery in Sedona, the Bien Muir Gallery and the Pueblo Indian Cultural Center in Albuquerque, the Toh-Atin Gallery in Durango, and Flagstaff's Community Art Center (the Art Barn).

Benson began entering art competitions in 1987. He received a third place award in his first show in Page, Arizona, in 1987, and most recently, a first place award at the 1988 Pueblo Indian Cultural Center Show in Albuquerque.

The works of Benson Halwood are considered by several art dealers as among the most promising in the Indian Art field today. A definite increase in value will occur as the artist's recognition is expanded through competitions, gallery showings, and collector acquisitions.