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"Slot Canyon", an exceptionally beautiful large inlaid silver belt buckle by Eveli Sabatie, c.1980's
Ex: Herb and Bernie Beenhouwer Collection, Santa Fe, NM
The “best” of anything is always extremely difficult to quantify. So while we cannot say for certain
that this belt buckle is the single best Eveli Sabatie (French-Moroccan, b.1940) jewelry piece that she
ever made, it is unquestionably one of them.
For starters, it’s very good-sized, it’s insanely gorgeous, it’s in excellent original condition and it has an outstanding provenance, including being prominently displayed in the Wheelwright Museum of Santa Fe’s Eveli Sabatie retrospective exhibition, “Eveli: Energy and Significance” from June, 2016 to January, 2017. In short, this piece has absolutely everything anyone could possibly want. It appears that it was specifically made to be a “trophy” piece and that’s precisely what it is, worthy of any museum or private collection anywhere in the world.
The buckle was originally purchased directly from Eveli Sabatie in the late 1980's by the prominent Santa Fe Native American Arts collectors, Herb and Bernie Beenhouwer. The Beenhouwer’s were longtime Santa Fe residents and collectors. Eveli named the buckle "Slot Canyon" and it is easy to see why that was her conception of the piece. The purple sugilite "slot" in the surrounding redrock with a sliver of bright blue sky above. In 1994, the Beenhouwers donated the vast majority of their large and important Native American art collection to the Hopi tribe keeping only a few favorite pieces, including this buckle, for themselves. Years later, in 2017, we acquired the buckle from their family collection. That they chose to keep this buckle in their personal collection for so long speaks volumes about its significance.u
The large-scale silver buckle measures 3” in height, 2 3/4" in width, 1/4" in thickness and it can accommodate a belt of up to 1 3/4” in width. The buckle is superbly channel-inlaid with five large panels of deeply and finely hand-carved red jasper, one panel of purple sugilite and one panel each of two different types of blue turquoise. The overall artistic effect is of an organic, modernist-style, color-field painting or sculpture executed in stone and silver, in our view. It’s a completely unique, powerful and dramatic presentation.
The buckle is in excellent, age-appropriate original condition with a couple of minor scratches and a bit of
silver tarnish and it is properly signed “Eveli” on the back in Sabatie’s customary, engraved signature. It weighs
a very substantial 152 grams or 5 3/8 ounces. We believe the interesting, decorative, repeating geometric silver design panel on the back of the buckle is a lovely and surprising extra touch and it is most beautifully executed.
“She is innovating even more on her own—her style has some influence because she was trained here….Her style is really…her own and is now starting to have a strong flavor of North Africa…parts of her innovation I also incorporated back.”
—Charles Loloma discussing the work of Eveli Sabatie in a later interview with Erin Younger, May, 1978, Heard Museum Phoenix.
Quoted in Martha Struever, “Loloma, Beauty Is His Name”, © Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, 2005, pp.19
Eveli Sabatie originally learned jewelry-making in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as one of only two official apprentices in the studio of the renowned Hopi jewelry artist, Charles Loloma, and her startling originality, design sense and exuberant creativity were evident right from the very beginning. Sometimes an inspired and brilliant student surpasses even the greatest of masters and this might be one of those noteworthy occasions. In every possible way, this buckle is an extraordinary and masterful achievement from the talented mind and hands of an extraordinary and fully-realized World-class artist.
Price available upon request
The Artist, Santa Fe, NM, c. 1980
Purchased from The Artist by Herb and Bernie Beenhouwer, Santa Fe, NM, c. 1980
Beenhouwer Family Collection, Santa Fe, NM, 1980-2017
Acquired from the above by Fine Arts of the Southwest, Santa Fe, NM, 2017-Present
The buckle was prominently featured in the Eveli Sabatie retrospective exhibition in 2016
at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Santa Fe, NM
The buckle on display at the Wheelwright Museum’s
Eveli Sabatie retrospective exhibition in Santa Fe, 2016
Eveli Sabatie making jewelry at her bench in Santa Fe, c. 1970‘s.
Photo © Richard Smith