An Acoma fine-line pottery painting expert and a crowd-favorite weaver are set to dazzle visitors to Two Grey Hills Indian Arts and Jewelry during the Fall Arts Festival.
A family of potters will travel from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, for the first weekend’s spotlight.
“Rebecca Lucario is the master of fine-line painting,” said Scot Mattheis, who runs the gallery with his father, Gary.
Mattheis said making that kind of pottery is a complex process. First, Lucario digs clay out of the ground. It’s hard, like slate, making that a challenge. Because it’s natural clay she uses a “coil and pinch” method, rather than a wheel, to shape her pieces.
Lucario will be painting some of her pottery while she’s at Two Grey Hills this fall. Her dyes are made from vegetables, roots and berries, and she paints with a yucca leaf, usually freehand.
Keep that in mind when examining Lucario’s work. Every piece is full of intricate geometric patterns — patterns so perfect, Mattheis said, that people sometimes think they’re generated by a computer.
“In my opinion she’s the best painter of all fine-line potters,” he said, admiringly. “We’re most impressed by her plates.”
Lucario’s son Daniel and daughter Amanda will also be at Two Grey Hills.
“This is the kind of art that transitions through generations,” Mattheis said.
During the second weekend of the festival Mary Yazzie, a rug weaver from the Navajo Reservation who enchanted crowds last year, will return. Another favorite from last year, Yippy I-O Candy, will again bring an assortment of fudges to Two Grey Hills for the Palates and Palettes Gallery Walk.
Mattheis said the gallery was packed with people sitting in every nook and cranny, even on the floor, to watch Yazzie’s demonstration last year.
Yazzie is an expert weaver of round rugs, but you’ll only see her working on rectangular rugs.
“She won’t weave a round rug in front of anyone else,” Mattheis said. “Not in her front yard, not anywhere.”
The technique for round rugs is so rare that only a few artists know how to make one. And she would like to keep it that way.
Yazzie comes from the Two Grey Hills area of the Navajo Reservation, the inspiration behind the gallery’s name.
The area is known for a very specific kind of rug weave. The rugs always have a single or double diamond pattern and use black, gray, tan and white wool. They often incorporate yea, or spiritual figures.
Two Grey Hills has a plethora of rugs in that style on display.
“They were Grandma’s favorite kind of rug, and they’re the most tightly and finely woven rugs out there,” Mattheis said. “That’s why we named the store what we did.”
Two Grey Hills is a family-owned gallery, now encompassing three generations. Elfriede Jourdan and her son, Gary Mattheis, moved to Jackson from West Germany in 1950. While running a laundry service together they encountered an array of Navajo rugs that were, and still are, popular in the area.
In 1978 Jourdan told the Jackson Hole Guide that “the Two Grey Hills area in New Mexico is to Navajo rugs what Paris is to haut couture.”
Their curiosity piqued, Jourdan and Mattheis visited the Navajo Reservation and surrounding areas, and that sealed the deal.
Two Grey Hills Indian Arts and Jewelry opened in 1976. Today the gallery still specializes in Navajo rugs and sells hand-made Hopi, Zuni and Navajo jewelry. Two Grey Hills also has a stunning selection of Pueblo pottery.
When Yazzie is working on rugs in New Mexico she gets supplies from the Toadlena Trading Post. Mattheis describes the post as a flashback to the past. The stone and adobe store is more than a century old and continues to serve Navajos like Yazzie on a daily basis.
“She’ll go in there to get supplies and, sometimes, a chocolate bar,” Mattheis said. “She loves them.”
Like many who frequent the trading post, Yazzie “doesn’t speak a word of English,” he said.
So no matter how impressed you may be by her weaving, you’ll never learn the tricks of her trade.