Navajo Dine (1948 – present)
Justin Tso, born in Canyon de Chelly in 1948, is a traditional artist who enjoys painting the Navajo Reservation landscapes, the proud Navajo people, and his horses. He believes his paintings represent an art form that has all but disappeared in recent years. Born and raised in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona he draws his spiritual nourishment from the mystery, drama, riot of color and miracle of nature that is this canyon which has allowed his paintings to illustrate not only the landscape but the many symbols that tell the stories, the legends, the deep beliefs of his people, The Dine, the Navajo.
Justin Tso’s award-winning opaque watercolors depict ancient tales and traditions of the Navajo people. Like his predecessors, Harrison Begay and Beatien Yazz, Tso devotes himself exclusively to the stylized paintings of his tribe and to the traditional Navajo life, showing the beauty of a timeless, peaceful and gentle world.
Tso is a serious and dedicated artist who is constantly working to improve his technique and mastery of color. Although he prefers to work in opaque watercolor, he occasionally uses other media such as oil land casein. Tso has been painting and exhibiting seriously for over 30 years and has worked as an electronics repairman as well as a horseback tour operator.
Tso (pronounced So) attended schools in Chinle, Arizona; Gallup, New Mexico; and Lawton, Oklahoma, and later served in the armed forces for three years (1969 – 1971) before completing his education at I.T.C. in San Francisco, California, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Although he studied art briefly in the public schools he attended, Tso is almost entirely self-taught.
Tso has had numerous exhibitions, countless awards and has been featured in publications such as “Plateau” 1982, and “Southwest Art Magazine” May/June 1983.