By PEGGY POWELL
O ARTIST David V. Villasenorof Pasadena,
the sandpaint-ings he first saw as a youth of 16on the Navajo Reservation were adetermining influence in his continu-ing search for artistic expression. Outof this has been created a new mediathat brings the perishable sandpaint-
once relegated to the remoteareas of Navajoland, into the livingrooms of modern Americans as per-manent works of art.Since a sandpainting's very perman-ency is in opposition to Navajo tradi-tion (sandpaintings started after sunupare destroyed before sunset, and thosebegun after sunset are destroyed be-fore dawn), Villasenor deliberatelymakes one "mistake" in each of hisworks. Also, he leaves each cere-monial sandpainting reproduction in-complete (as Medicine Men do inpublic demonstrations). In this waythe artist feels that his "tapestries insand" are not sacrilegious—and at thesame time he is helping to perpetuatea form of art that could die out withthe older Navajo generation. Medi-cine Men who use sandpaintings aspart of their sacred curing rituals areusually the first to encourage the pres-ervation of these ancient forms whenthe artist's motive is sincere.Villasenor's technique is very sim-
For small demonstration paint-ings he uses a piece of sandpaper fora "canvas." First he makes a penciloutline of the figure or symbol to be"painted." Working on a small sec-tion of this design, he applies a thincoating of clear plastic cement whichis quickly doused with a generoushandful of colored sand. After allow-ing this to set for a few minutes, hepours the excess sand back into itscontainer and blows away the loosegrains on the canvas. The lines onthe design are cleaned and made evenwith a small scraper. Additional coat-ings (Villasenor sometimes applies asmany as 21) give the painting contourand brighter color. The artist oftengrinds his own sand from rocks, andno artificial coloring is added.Villasenor's sandpaintings are notlimited to Indian designs. He has donemany landscapes and portraits, but hismost outstanding work to date is agroup of 21 sacred Navajo sandpaint-ings commissioned by the AmericanMuseum of Natural History. It tooknine months to complete this project.The artist, part Spanish and partOtomi Indian, was born 43 years agoin Jalisco, Mexico. He received hisintroduction to art and Navajo sand-paintings at 16 when he hired on ascook for a party of Tucson artiststouring the Arizona Indian country.—
ENDYou are cordially invited to attend a special showing ofDavid Villasenor's work at (he Desert Magazine Art Galleryin Palm Desert,
February 2 to 22. Other one-man showsscheduled at the admission-free Gallery this season: FremontEllis, Feb.
14; Charles Reynolds. March 15-April 4;and R. Brcwnell McGrew, April 5-May 2.