When artist Hyrum Joe paints the wildlife, mesa tops and cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park during the Rims to Ruins Art Event this week, he'll be going back to his roots.
As a Navajo Hyrum's ancestors have many historic and spiritual ties to the region. The painter want Native Americans and others to remember the ways of his people
"The culture is slowly dying. The next generation of Native Americans seems to have little interest in the ceremony and traditions," Hyrum said.
Hyrum was like that when he was young. But as he grew up he wanted to know more about the Navajo tribe. Today, Hyrum's proud of his heritage and expresses it through painting.
Hyrum will be attending the second annual Rims to Ruins Art event with two other Native Americans including his mentor and father, renowned sculptor Oreland Joe.
"This will be a first time for us; together as father and son and in a unique area. We're from the Four Corners region, and the history is in our blood," Oreland said.
This is the first time Native American artists have participated in the event.
Pencil artist Jerry Cohoe thinks it's an advantage to be Native American during this special event. He often draws the Navajo people in their traditional attire and surroundings then shows his artwork during presentations or lectures.
"I'm trying to preserve the past," Cohoe said. "I've always felt the more we know about each other the better we'll get along."
The artists will be participating in the event and sale with about 25 other prominent western and southwest painters, sketchers and sculptors.
Many of them will work plein air, or out in the open, on My 15 and 16.
The works will be sold to help support projects in Mesa Verde National Park.
"Because of the success of Rims to Ruins, we were able to help fund the re-establishment of the park's historic horse patrol program and to sponsor the Four Corners Lecture Series that will take place in the park this summer," said Judy Grant, the chair of the board of directors for the Mesa Verde Foundation.
The horse patrol program allows rangers to access more remote parts of the park, she said.
Last year, the art sales raised $46,000, and this year, the foundation hopes to raise $43,000.
Grant said the breathtaking art captures scenery and images of a place that are almost sacred to many people.
"This art is a way of bringing Mesa Verde to each of us, in our living room, family room, office," she said.
Works of art created in the park will be for sale during an art auction and luncheon at the Mesa Verde Visitor Center on Saturday at noon.
Additional artwork from the participants will be for sale during a special show at the Wildlife Experience Museum near Denver on Nov. 5.
Tickers for the luncheon are $50 per person and available at MesaVerdeFoundation.org.