Ambassador to the world: Santa Fe artist Tony Abeyta honored by State Department

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies honored famed Santa Fe artist Tony Abeyta with the 2023 U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts on Sept. 13.

The contemporary Navajo (Diné) painter learned about the award a month ago.

“They told me to keep it on the down low,” he said. “They were going to have it at a museum in D.C., but then they moved it to the White House.”

The medal marks Abeyta’s second trip to the White House. He traveled there for a Native American event last year.

The first time, “in a way, a lot of us didn’t believe the invitations,” he said. “This time, they actually called me, so I believed them.”

The week-long visit included trips to the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Rubell Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Library of Congress and various galas and receptions.

“My sister lives in Washington, D.C., so we’re going to have dinner,” Abeyta added.

First Lady Jill Biden presented the medals at a White House ceremony.

AuthorAlbuquerque Journal - Kathaleen Roberts, Assistant Arts Editor