"The Wright Stuff" Native Art Blog

Artists of the Month – Darryl Dean, Rebecca, and Robert Whitehair Begay

Born on the Navajo reservation, Darryl Dean and his wife Rebecca were raised in the traditional way. Weaving and ceremonial sand painting were part of everyday life. Darryl learned from his uncle Bobby Begay, who was a medicine man in the Native American Church. He began his career in 1997, learning traditional tufa casting. Raymond C. Yazzie mentored him in inlay and Myron Pantaeh on the importance of patina to bring out colors on the silver. He was taught style by Timothy Begay who learned the art of silversmithing from Kenneth Begay while he taught at Navajo Community College.



Darryl taught Rebecca the art as their three sons began to grow and she had a bit more time to help him in the studio. As founder of Turquoise Enthusiast, Darryl has always sought out and worked with the finest natural American turquoise. Colors play a significant part in his work, reflecting Navajo custom. Coral, lapis, mother of pearl, and turquoise are often included. Working together or separately, Darryl Dean and Rebecca have won too many awards to list including the prestigious Best in Show at the 2009 Santa Fe Indian Market.

Robert Whitehair Begay, son of Rebecca and Darryl Dean, was the recipient of the 2020-2021 Goodman Aspiring Artist Fellowship. Previously, in August 2019, he received the Best of Classification and the Best of Youth Award at the 98th annual Santa Fe Indian Market for a bolo tie inspired by his great-grandfather.

He has continued to work in his parents’ style, incorporating their techniques with his vision. He has come into his own as a respected artist, even as a teenager, and he recently won a Second Place ribbon, competing as an adult, at the 2022 Heard Market for his concho belt “The People’s (Diné) Pandemic”.