Talkin’ Trade Beads with Ben McPherson

Photo of Ben McPherson painting a picture of an Apache indian

Ben McPherson painting in his studio

Ben McPherson is a marvelous young artist who just happens to be Owen’s nephew by marriage to his niece, Kristina.  Ben is an exquisite painter having won some prestigious awards, plus he’s prolific in his chosen art form. On our recent trip to UT we stopped by his home-studio to see his latest painting project, visit with Kris and kids and see his studio now that he’s moved it to their home. Ben’s won his kudos by painting mainly religious subjects; we have a print of his Last Supper painting titled “And it was Night” that we are proud to have hanging in our dining room. Ben’s branching out into the western art field that Owen and I are so keen on, particularly anything to do with Native Americans, so visiting his studio to see his new venue was what we wanted to see. He’s a Farmington, New Mexico boy originally so western art runs in his blood and the paintings he’s working on were very clearly exhibiting this view. Ben’s said in an article in the Utah Valley Daily Herald that he tries to paint “a sense of the reality of the moment.” and that he feels that “an artist needs to take reality as far as he can before he starts inserting imagination into the process.” I think this is a great motto for his painting career.

Photo of Ben McPherson in his studio contemplating his three Apache indian paintings

Ben McPherson in his Studio contemplates his paintings

His current paintings are focused on a Jicarilla Apache elder decked out in his regalia. Ben had just been working on the beads and trimmings on this elder’s regalia when we showed up at the studio. It was a fun time for us, as elders ourselves, Trade Bead collectors and researchers and Owen, an Anthropologist, to give Ben some lessons on some of the beads and customs he was portraying in his paintings. He’d done a pretty good job but we were able to give him the history and reasons why the elder would wear these particular beads. Ben was very receptive to our explanations about what beads he was painting and said he wanted to know all he could about them to authenticate his paintings. I gave him the address to my Trade Bead blogs here on, and of course, so he could see some information and photos of some of the beads he was painting. It was very much fun to see his paintings and talk with someone so eager to learn about one of my passions, Trade Beads! Google Ben McPherson to see his wonderful art on various sites.

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2 Responses to “Talkin’ Trade Beads with Ben McPherson”

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  1. Judy Johnson says:

    Hi Janet: I happened on your site while looking for values for both dark, round b lye cobalt blue glass Russian trade beads and ruby/garnet glass beads. I lived in Alaska right after the 1964 earthquake, a working at the native USPHS hospital in Anchoraage. I bought several sweetgrass baskets from patients during their long hospital stay. A friend of mine toured villages and bought directly from folks…that’s how I got my beads. I’m interested in selling my baskets and beads and will send pictures of same. What do u think they are worth? Thank you.

    • Janet Walker says:

      Hi Judy,

      I have to tell you what I tell everyone… they’re worth whatever you can get for them. Of course, there’s some that are more valuable than others, and your stories(provenance) can make a big difference in the price. But actually checking out Ebay and some online bead selling businesses can help you figure out what you have and possibly the current going rate. I’d love to see some pictures so if you have the time please shoot me some pictures to [email protected]

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