Gibson Nez was a person who tried to do whatever he did well. Gibson Nez was a Jicarilla Apache-Navajo jeweler whose work was among the best in the world of Native American jewelry. Gibson Nez greatly focused on whatever he was doing, and as we shall see excelled in more than one area. He was influenced by the best jewelers, and became one of them. He will long be and example in how to live life well.
Gibson Nez was born May 16th, 1947. He became active as a silversmith in 1976 and worked at his art for three decades, until he died on December 1st, 2007. Gibson Nez learned silversmithing from Jack Shaw and Gibson's uncle Jackson Velarde. He was influenced by Jesse Monongye and Ben Nighthorse Campbell. From them Gibson Nez learned to keep balance between his jewelry work and the rest of life. He also learned a business sense from these artists.
Gibson Nez was known as the master of stampwork. His hand-struck stamps developed through his career. The stamps were sharp and exquisite. Gibson Nez used great patience to produce parallel lines very close together. The lines draw the eye to the gem-grade stones Gibson Nez would carefully pick. From his homes in Santa Fe and Dulce, New Mexico on the Jicarilla Apache reservation, Gibson Nez did stampwork, mosaic, set stone jewelry, gold, silver and leatherwork. Amazingly he was also a heavy equipment operator, and excelled as a rodeo bull and saddle bronc rider. Later he became a rodeo clown. Gibson Nez did everything he attempted well. However though he was inducted in 1976 to the Indian Cowboy Hall of Fame for Saddle Bronc riding, Gibson Nez still seemed to have his greatest achievements with his jewelry.
Gibson Nez's work is in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Gibson Nez won every major Native American jewelry award including the Smithsonian Medal of Honor. His over 500 major awards were at the top shows such as the Gallup Ceremonial, Santa Fe Indian Market, the All Mankind jewelry competition in Washington, D.C., and Casa Grande in Arizona. Gibson Nez's work was featured in magazines such as Arizona Highways, and in over 35 books. He made jewelry for many movie and television stars such as Robert Redford, Goldie Hawn and Dale Robertson.
No Native American jeweler is equal in precision to Gibson Nez's stamps. This master of silver fabrication and stamp work did traditional and contemporary pieces. His distinctive hallmark was never added to a mediocre piece. Gibson Nez's bolos and bracelets are all unforgetable. This artist will be long remembered not only for his art, but as an example of how to live life. Gibson Nez tried to do whatever he did well!