Navajo Artist, Johnny Tso Yazzie, 75, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, passed away on Friday, May 21, 2021. Johnny was one of the major contributors to the popularity and growth of contemporary Native American painting. Johnny was born to Guy Yazzie and Pearl Zonnie Chee Horseherder Yazzie, on the Navajo Reservation in Howell Mesa, Arizona on December 29, 1945.
Johnny received his education at Tuba City Boarding School and later transferred to the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California. Then while attending vocational school in Dallas, TX, he met his wife of 56 years, Peggy Ann Nightwalker. As time progressed, Johnny and his family moved to Santa Fe where he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and the College of Santa Fe, and where he finished with his associates and bachelor’s degrees in Fine Art.
Despite any formal education or training, Johnny became one of the most sought-after successful artists in the United States. International art collectors bought his paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. Johnny was well known for his Navajo, pueblo, and plains scenery paintings which he attributed to the influence of his father-in-law Roy Nightwalker, his extended family and pueblo neighbors. Johnny was also known for his Native American Church songs which he learned while living around the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and where he attended NAC meetings. Johnny attributed his interests and natural talent to his upbringing in a very traditional Navajo environment. His father was a medicine man and his mother a traditional weaver. Johnny’s love for nature, spirituality and people were illustrated through his paintings. Johnny loved to share his art with others who have an appreciation for humanity and literature.
Johnny was a former member of the Oklahoma Art League, exhibited his art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, as well has art gallery shows across the country. Johnny’s paintings won many awards at the New Mexico State Fair and many other places. Johnny’s paintings can be found in Europe, Germany, Japan and many other countries.
In addition to his parents Guy Yazzie and Pearl Zonnie Chee Horseherder Yazzie, Johnny was preceded in death by his wife Peggy Ann Nightwalker Yazzie, sister Bessie Yazzie Walters, sister Nonabah Riggs, sister Nancy Jean Yazzie, brother Billy Yazzie, brother Henry Guy Yazzie, daughter Lucille Pearl Yazzie Fuentes, grandson Anthony Marcel Sanchez, and granddaughter LaTisha Breeze Yazzie.
Johnny is survived by his four children: Ronald Nightwalker Yazzie of Lame Deer, MT, Sonny Yazzie and wife Patricia of Albuquerque, NM, Nona Yazzie of Albuquerque, NM and Dawn Yazzie of Albuquerque, NM. Johnny is also survived by one brother and three sisters: Kee Tso Yazzie of Cameron, AZ, Minnie Etsitty of Navajo, AZ, Stella Goldtooth of Tuba City, AZ, and Lena Begay of Tuba City, AZ; as well as twenty-one grandchildren, twenty-four great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A traditional burial and family reception will be held on Thursday, June 3, 2021 on the Navajo Nation in Sanders, Arizona.
Flower donations can be made on June 2nd to Daniels Funeral - Alameda Mortuary, 9420 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114, Tel: 505-898-3160.