Delbert Buck

Delbert Buck

Delbert Buck - Folk Artist: Delbert was born in Shiprock, New Mexico to Wilford and Jenny Buck in September of 1976. Like other Navajo folk artists, Delbert is self taught with the unusual distinction of starting at the ripe old age of nine. His artwork started in an innocent way with the carving of toy guns for his younger brothers. The idea of carving figures just came to him. He first thought of carving a horse as he is an avid lover and participant of rodeo with his favorite even being bull riding.

The horse was soon followed by a chicken and then a goose. He didn't think about adding a human being to his pieces until his fifth carving. He thought it would be funny to show his grandma driving a truck. He had only seen her drive once and thought it would be a funny image.

When asked what his grandma thought of the piece, Delbert said, "Oh, I didn't show her, but my mom thought it was funny." When Delbert was eleven years old, his father took some of his pieces to a local trader named Jack Beasley. Jack sponsored Delbert's first gallery show at the age of thirteen. Delbert's work was soon recognized by avid folk art collectors Chuck and Jan Rosenak as well as Pat Eddington and Susan Makov. Both couples featured Delbert's work in their books, "The People Speak - Contemporary Navajo Folk Art" and "The Trading Post Guidebook."

Delbert works in a shack behind his home. His tools are simple consisting of a hand saw, a hammer, and a utility knife. His mom lives near a wash so she picks up pieces of cottonwood for the carvings. Delbert handles the carving and the painting. His mom and sometimes, his sisters, help him "dress" the pieces, putting skirts on the women or wool to cover sheep.

His ideas come from looking around a the ordinary things in his daily life whether animals or people. The greatest encouragement of his work has come from his parents, especially his mom. He listens to the stories told by his mom and grandma. His mom also gives him ideas. He feels his work as a life and energy all of its own. He can look at one of his carvings and envision a man riding a chicken down the road. His favorite carvings feature airplanes; cowboys and horses; and wagons.

Delbert doesn't study the work of other artists as he feel his work has it's own particular character. He is inspired by the work of Charles Willeto knowing there is a place in the world of art for his own unique interpretations. Most of all, he wants people to smile when they see his work. This desire to make people feel better spans all aspects of his life.

Right now, he is a second year college student studying to be a physical therapist. He is leaning toward sports therapy due to his love of baseball, football, and rodeo. His greatest demand is balancing the life of a successful artist with his desire to do well in college and rodeo. Delbert hits the books early every morning in the library, attends his classes, then focuses on his carvings in the afternoon and evening. He typically carves a number of pieces and then paints that group of carvings. He finds the humor in his work helps put him into a better mood. Sometimes, when he is blocked, his dad will talk to him and help him move forward in his carving again.

When asked how he views himself, Delbert said, "I'm just an ordinary guy. I'm surprised how people have responded and that I can make a living from my carving."

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This site was last updated on October 19, 2020.

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