SNOWFLAKE – When you mention the late Robert Yellowhair, it’s likely that someone either tells you about having one of his world-renowned paintings, or one of his saddles or belt buckles.
Yellowhair, a full-blooded Navajo, and an acclaimed artist with no formal training, lived in Snowflake from 1964 until his death this July.
Last year, the mayor and town council of Snowflake had proclaimed Oct. 27 as “Robert Yellowhair Day.”
He began painting around the age of five and sold his first painting for 50 cents. Now, his last commissioned painting, was purchased by the town of Snowflake for $4,000.
Yellowhair’s family came to the Sept. 27 council meeting to present the “unfinished” canvas to the town.
In the spring, Yellowhair had shared his vision of the painting with the council which would depict Snowflake’s history.
Yellowhair was ill when he began the commissioned work. He sketched out what he planned to do on the four-foot by six-foot canvas, and would work on it in increments.
Due to the bloating he experienced with his illness, he was unable to bend over and could only work on a flat surface.
The history of Snowflake on the painting was presented with original pioneer wagons coming into town, Native Americans watching the wagon train, cowboys, horses, cows, the wind farm which became part of the terrain of Snowflake, the railroad, the 1948 original piece of fire equipment, the historic cabin across from the Snowflake Social Hall, the LDS Temple, bronze and stone sculpture known as the Snowflake Memorial on Main Street and the Lobo logo.
Moving closer to the canvas, the sketches that were awaiting paint can be discerned. Yellowhair had planned to add some other things, including a bull rider and a builder, but his time ran out.
With the space unfilled on the canvas, the town will have a plaque made to commemorate the painting as Yellowhair’s last commissioned, unfinished work.
The council had paid Yellowhair $3,500 in advance, and presented his widow with the remaining $500 due for the work.
Yellowhair’s artistic style was realistic impressionism. Most of his work has been oil on canvas, and in each of his paintings somewhere you will find grass which is his trademark.
Yellowhair’s work is on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., and his painting of John F. Kennedy can be found in the White House. And now this special, unfinished painting will be at Snowflake Town Hall.
Reach the reporter at