Ed Singer is an artist who believes in drawing what he sees, hears and observes.
The painter will open an exhibit on Thanksgiving Day at The Desert Pearl in Cortez featuring a selection of his most
recent works rendering contemporary reality on the Navajo reservation with a hard experiential lens on internal
Because I am an artist, I react to my environment and experiences. To me, they are just paintings and drawings,"
His current exhibit at the Desert Pearl shows a return to the large-scale paintings he was known for from the 1970s to
the 1990s. Today, though, his work is more overtly focused on political issues he calls his own.
It's like as soon as you're born, because of the special relationship with the federal government through treaties,you're like a political entity whether you like it or not. And I think you're impacted directly by policy changes, so I
know a lot of Native Americans try to have nothing to do with politics, and I don't think they're very successful. I
try to stay away from issues, but there's a lot of corruption," Singer said.
Singer's exhibit, his second in as many years in Cortez but the first at Desert Pearl, which didn't exist a year ago,includes about a dozen of his most recent work and some previous paintings and drawings. The latest oil on canvas
measures 7 feet by 5½ feet. It depicts a comment he heard while interpreting during Navajo intake meetings held by the
National Park Service in 2006.
At that time, many elders came to tell their stories about the Long Walk and to offer opinions about the National
Historic Trail designation proposed by the Park Service.
One old man told the story of his father saying they walked home from the incarceration at Bosque Redondo 'on a road
of bones and hair,'" Singer said.
The painting depicts the road, bones and hair, but shows the victorious people returning home to the reservation in a
landscape awash in yellow sunlight.
Singer is also exhibiting Annunciation," a 10-foot by 6-foot portrait of Gray Mountain, his home at the western edge
of the Navajo reservation. The painting is on loan from a Phoenix collector who is allowing it to be displayed in a
public exhibit for the first time since it was painted in 2008.
Additional work in Singer's exhibit includes caricature drawings of Navajo Nation politicians. A mixed-media piece
titled, Navajo Crimes" parodies the Navajo central government and current ongoing investigations into the government's
business dealings. In front of the text columns and headlines is a portrait of Joe Kennedy II, the Chief Executive
Officer of Citizens Energy, who is viewed by Singer as adversarial and interfering with his community's right to choose
its own destiny as it develops a wind farm that will benefit his people.
The painting is based on Singer's experiences with Kennedy since Singer has been president of Cameron Chapter, near the
Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, since January.
(Navajo Nation President) Joe Shirley made a deal behind closed doors with Joe Kennedy, he thought he was going to
take this project away from us. He came out about a year ago, and I had a big confrontation with him. Our former
community president was probably in collusion already with Kennedy to get the business," Singer said.
I really had no time to work on paintings until a few weeks ago when Shirley was put on administrative leave. So that
gave me time to paint and draw again, which is nice."
Singer is also working on a series based on the economic downturn in the last year. He's using recycled materials such
as crates and cardboard and will add the new works to the Desert Pearl exhibit as the pieces are finished.