Specializing in Native American Crafts Since 1916

Wallace Begay


Artist Profile

Wallace N. Begay was born and raised at Tolani Lake, AZ just east of the San Francisco Peaks. Begay herded sheep as well as tended the family’s cattle and horses. Begay was born in 1957 during the early stages of the modernization of the Navajo reservation. Like many other Navajo children, Begay attended a BIA boarding school at Leupp, AZ. During his immersion in the English culture, Begay began to draw using charcoal, pencil and eventually watercolors. Quincy Tahoma and Harrison Begay had achieved prominence in Indian art with their flat “Bambi” style of paint application. Many young Navajo artists emulated this technique, including Begay. However, Begay gradually began experimenting with texture created by charcoal. When Begay left boarding school for high school at Window Rock, he had a substantial amount of training in the use of graphite, charcoal and watercolors. Art classes at Window Rock opened new avenues of art in acrylic and oil painting. Begay won many awards and began to sell his pieces.

After high school, Begay attended college at Arizona State University where he was noted for his watercolor paintings. Begay left ASU temporarily and graduated from Maricopa Community College with an Associates Degree. Again, his art won student art shows. He later finished his studies in marketing at ASU. Begay worked as an art director for the feature magazine “Navaho”. Shortly after, Begay returned to college at the University of Arizona in Tucson where he was a senior majoring in painting and sculpture.

Recent Work by Wallace Begay

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