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Betty David

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Betty DAVID American Indian Artist, 69, Dies Betty David, born Bertha Jean Farrier, died of gastric and bone cancer on Friday, August 31, 2007, at 69 years of age, at her daughter's home in Morgan Hill, California. Betty was born in Nespelem, Washington at the Colville Indian Hospital. Betty was a descendant of both Oregon pioneers and Native Americans - her great-grandfather was a courier for the famous Great White Father - Doctor John McLoughlin - who ran the Hudson's Bay Company, and her great-grandmother was a Cree Indian. She was enrolled as a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, Wellpinit, Washington. A memorial will be held for her during the summer of 2008 at the La Fleur family cemetery located on the west end of the Spokane Indian Reservation. Betty is survived by her two sisters, Aldine Farrier in Washington, D.C., and Jane Woodyard in Bainbridge Island, Washington, as well as her three daughters, Rachel (Kendall) Burge, Sarah Kesselman, and Lily Kesselman. Betty attended St. Mary's of the Valley and graduated from Beaverton Union High School in Beaverton, Oregon, then attended the University of Oregon and Marylhurst College. She spent most of her young life in Portland, Oregon, where her father worked as an accountant. After college Betty married Leo Kesselman and they moved to San Francisco, where she worked as a legal secretary while her husband attended law school. For the last 15 years of her life, Betty was an important artist in the Indian art world, where she showed at Indian art markets as well as in the private sector. Betty's expertise was designing and creating custom shearling coats, jackets and handbags, and more recently, designing rugs, all with traditional Northwest Indian motifs. She started her eponymous label while living in Santa Barbara, California, and moved to Seattle to bring her designs to collectors in the Northwest. Her work was offered in Seattle at the Pike Place Market in Post Alley, and at her showroom in New York City. Her artistry is renowned among Native American contemporary artists, and her work is prized by collectors. The Santa Fe Art Market was an important venue for Betty's work, as well as the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Indian Craft Shop at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. Her works have been purchased for collections at numerous museums and she won many awards for her work. Betty was one of the few Indian artists selected for the Philadelphia Craft Show. Betty was a prolific artist--in addition to designing her own line of outerwear, she was an avid knitter, painter and decorator. She worked as an interior decorator and antiques dealer, and collected Asian art and textiles and books. She also studied sculpture and casting in Santa Barbara, California. Betty David was loved and admired by her Indian contemporaries, as she encouraged other artists to increase their marketing skills and place higher values on their work, and always offered encouragement and appreciation of their work and artistry. She will be remembered for her vision and her contributions to the Indian art world. Her family has requested that any memorial contributions be donated to The Pike Place Market Child Care and Preschool in Seattle, Washington where she was a board member.
Published in The Seattle Times on Sept. 23, 2007
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