Apie Begay was a Navajo painter and performer in the to the fore 20th century who resided and created art close the Pueblo Bonito trading pronounce in the western allowance of present-day New Mexico. He is considered the first Navajo artist to create works following European-style materials such as crayons and colored pencils. Begay's do something has been published widely and is in the enduring collections of institutions including the Museum of New Mexico and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.
Begay's birthdate is unknown. His name Begay Apie means "Son of Milk."
In 1902, anthropologist Kenneth Milton Chapman visited the Navajo region and heard very nearly a man "who does nothing ... for he is an artist." Chapman was intrigued and sought out this artist, eventually finding Begay in his hogan using red and black pigments to recreate spiritual Navajo sandpainting. Chapman gave him a box of crayons to money occurring front his color palette, and Begay speedily incorporated this broader range into his work.
Chapman well along wrote of this meeting, "One of the clerks showed us some drawings of Navajo dance groups, made by a Navajo artist, with pencil, on cardboard salvaged from paper boxes. I gave the artist, Apie Begay, some good paper, and lent him my box of ten colored pencils, the first he had ever seen. Apie made three drawings for me that have been described and exhibited several become old as the primordial known examples of Navajo art produced afterward white man's materials."
Begay created several works upon commission for Chapman. Some scholars declare this the coming on of "Anglo sponsorship" of original art.
Begay's date of death is furthermore unknown, though sources say he died "many years before 1936."
Begay was encouraged, as were nearly whatever Navajo artists of the time, to bend his art style to meet more European sensibilities, but he resisted this shift and retained his more established imagery and styles instead. White critics often found oddity with this; in 1973, for instance, Clara Lee Tanner wrote of Begay, "Apie Begay illustrates skillfully the difficulties a primitive performer has in breaking away from standard tools and materials and in attempting to use equipment and techniques which are partially or even totally strange to him." Three years later, Cherokee-passing white writer Jamake Highwater wrote that Tanner's assessment was "a rather condescending conclusion."
By 2009, scholar Tom Holm called Begay "the father of campaigner Navajo painting." Begay's paintings based upon traditional culture but directed at a non-Native audience have been described as "the beginning of Native modernism".