From early doodles in the margins of his Tuba City School yearbooks to the master strokes of his paintings in his later life, it was apparent that he was gifted.
The versatility of his talent showed itself in many ways, from his early careers in the beauty business, quickly segueing into the fashion business, ghost designing for top fashion designers in the 1980s and traveling around the country training professionals and developing new techniques in hair and studio makeup.
His love for the visual arts drew him back to painting. Although the world called to him he was always close to home in his heart and carried the stories that his grandfather and elders had told him growing up. These served as his biggest inspiration when it came to his paintings, especially the creation stories of the Diné.
A prolific artist, Rex created over 600 pieces of original art throughout his career. His sense of color, balance, harmony and dimension was extraordinary bringing to life each piece he created. He inspired and shared his culture with the world for close to 30 years. Through his art he shared a sense of truth, knowledge and beauty to all people he connected with.
In 2007 he created the Sarasota Native American Indian festival, a gathering of all native artisans to celebrate and appreciate the quality, creativity and authenticity of Native American artisans and craftspeople during a time when cultural appropriation is running rampant. His great appreciation and respect for Native cultures and traditions, extended out to all tribes and it was his desire to teach and share all the great beauty that they contain with all people Native and non-Native alike.
Rex A. Begaye was known for his sense of humor and his joy for laughter, fun and beauty he shared with us through his paintings and spirit. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, loved ones and art collectors.
In his own words and language he shares his message with the world…
Rex A. Begaye, age 60, was born January 13, 1953 in Tuba City, Arizona. He passed on December 24, 2013 in Sarasota, Florida. His Dineh (Navajo) clans are Hashk’aa Hadzohi (Yucca Fruit), born for Deeshchii’nii (Red streak people), chei are Tsi’naajinii (Black Streak Wood People), and his nalii are Kiyaa’aanii (Towering House).
He left behind his wife, Barbara Huntoon and 4 children—Alvin Begaye, Lethaniel Begaye, Sarah Isenhart and Traci Snowe, along with five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by parents Juanita and Franklin Yazzie and biological father Allen Begay.
Rex has asked that we celebrate his life. His memorial will take place at the chapter house in Bodaway/Gap, Arizona on Sunday, January 5 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. We know he will continue to walk in beauty.