Toh-Atin is a Navajo word meaning “No Water.” My father, Jackson Clark Sr, named the company after a mesa just south of the Four Corners Area on the Navajo reservation. It is a powerful place of uncommon beauty at the north end of the Lukachukai Mountain range in Northern Arizona.
My father married the daughter of a trading post owner from Blanco, New Mexico, Mary Jane, and in 1957 he began to buy and sell Navajo weavings. It’s an interesting story and will eventually be included in this blog.
My sister, Antonia, and I grew up with an appreciation for the Native American crafts, for the land on which they live and for the special and unique way that they look at the earth. When we were young, a family vacation was more often than not spent driving around the west, selling Navajo weaving and Indian jewelry to shops and museum stores.
We met so many great artists from around the country, not just Navajos, but people from all tribes….and a few white guys too, that we decided the time was right to open a gallery in Durango, Colorado.
My father passed away over a decade ago and my sister ran Toh-Atin Publishing, a print and poster publisher, until last year when she sold it. She now alternates between skiing, river running and helping me run the gallery.
Our mother continues to work in the gallery every day and we both hope to be as spry and vigorous as she is as time goes on. I’ll write some blogs about her early experiences growing up around a trading post too.
I was born in Durango, went to school here and then to college at the University of Colorado. The degree I received in Journalism helped to shape my outlook on life. I learned to write and to ask questions. Both of these talents have proven useful in this business. When I was in college, I paid most of my way through school selling Navajo weaving and turquoise jewelry. I’m pretty sure one professor gave me an A because I gave him a great deal on a Two Grey Hills rug, but, if so, we both came out alright.
After college, I spent several winters as a ski instructor at the Purgatory ski area and my summers buying and selling Navajo weavings and jewelry.
I’m one of those lucky people who has never really had a real job. Of course, running any business can be hard work, as is teaching skiing when it’s below zero, but when you do what you love, it is never really work.
Along the way, I was blessed with two children who have grown to be wonderful young men. Both work with me in the business, Ed taking over much of our traveling and sales to customers on the road, and Nick setting up our social networking program.
Nick and I also work together in another business I am passionate about. You can read about that one in my personal blog. There is a link on the home page if you are interested.
The purpose of this blog is to share the stories, the knowledge, the experiences and the history of Toh-Atin Gallery, the art we carry, the artists we represent, and the people whom we have met that have shaped our view of the world.
Thank you for joining me. I am looking forward to sharing and learning as we begin this new adventure!
Get involved and hear some of my great stories on our Interactive Blog!