Access to bathrooms has been a controversial subject lately. On most Native reservations, extensive poverty and great expanses of land, mean there are still many, many outhouses, instead of real bathrooms. This celebrated folk artist has wryly commented that the issue of gender-specific bathrooms is, and has always been, resolved on the Navajo!
What could be an emotional and politically fraught question is treated here with the dry, gentle humor that is typical of Navajo culture and folk art. Delbert Buck is one of the foremost artists in this genre, and this piece is a fine example of his work.
A pinto horse and little Dalmatian dog are patiently waiting beside a sturdy outhouse. With a colorful saddle blanket and nicely decorated saddle, the horse also has a long tail of real horsehair, and a mane of silky, natural sheep fleece. His ears are cocked, as if listening for signs he’ll be on the road again, soon. The little dog is sitting up, relieved not to be running for a while.
The real humor in the piece is the sign on the well-constructed outhouse: “Man or Woman”. No gender problems out here – all have been equally accommodated for generations, but let’s be up-to-date! With a timely theme and timeless humor, combined with expertly constructed elements and congenial colors, this is a major work of classic Navajo folk art.