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Pop Chalee Sold at Auction Prices

Painter, b. 1906 - d. 1993

Pop Chalee, also known as Merina Lujan (March 20, 1906 – December 11, 1993), was an American painter, muralist, performer, and singer.

Pop Chalee was born on March 20, 1906, in Castle Gate, Utah. Her father, Joseph Cruz Lujan was from Taos and her mother Merea Margherete Luenberger, was predominantly Swiss. Pop Chalee, which means "blue flower", is a Tiwa name given to her by her Taos grandmother soon after birth. In the year that Chalee was born, US President Theodore Roosevelt seized most of Taos Pueblo lands including Blue Lake, which played a vital role in Native American sacred beliefs.

Chalee's early life was fairly chaotic. Early in Chalee's life the Lujan family broke up and moved away from Utah. Chalee was placed in the care of her father's much older half-brother, Santiago Espinoza, who lived at Taos pueblo. Although she was not living with her sisters, they remained close as they were living near each other on the pueblo. After the first summer in Taos, Chalee's father sent the children to the U.S. Indian School in Santa Fe. As a young teenager, Chalee was on the move again to return to Salt Lake City, Utah.

On the journey back to Utah, she realized that she could not remember what her mother looked like. When they arrived at the station their mother never arrived to get them. After seeking out the help of a family friend they finally found their mother's home but were met with an unwelcome greeting. Chalee recalls their mother turning them away and calling them "little black devils".

Despite the cold welcome, Chalee would live at her mother’s house where she got her first job to contribute to the household. At age 16, Chalee could no longer tolerate the authoritarian and oppressive environment of her mother's house and ran away.

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        • A Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) painting, 'My Miniature Horses'
          Apr. 30, 2024

          A Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) painting, 'My Miniature Horses'

          Est: $6,000 - $9,000

          Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) Taos Pueblo, (1908-1993), 'My Miniature Horses,' watercolor on paper framed under glass, signed lower right: Pop-Chalee, titled on the original backing board. sight: height 12in, width 18 1/4in

          Bonhams
        • Pop Chalee Horses
          Apr. 20, 2024

          Pop Chalee Horses

          Est: $2,000 - $4,000

          Pop Chalee (American, 1908-1993) Horses Gouache on paper Signed Pop Chalee, lower right Buck Saunders Gallery tag, verso.

          Larsen Art Auction
        • Pop Chalee Single Horse
          Apr. 20, 2024

          Pop Chalee Single Horse

          Est: $1,000 - $2,000

          Pop Chalee (American, 1908-1993) Single Horse Gouache on paper Signed Pop Chalee, lower right Buck Saunders Gallery tag, verso.

          Larsen Art Auction
        • Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Blue Horse with Slice of Yellow Moon, ca. 1940
          Feb. 08, 2024

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Blue Horse with Slice of Yellow Moon, ca. 1940

          Est: $1,500 - $2,500

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee] (Taos, 1908 - 1996) Blue Horse with Slice of Yellow Moon, ca. 1940 gouache on paper signed lower right: Pop - Chalee

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (American, Taos, 1908 - 1993), Prancing House, Gouache on Paper, Signed l.r., Frame: 15 3/4 x 17 1/2 in. (40 x 44.5 cm.)
          Jan. 16, 2024

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (American, Taos, 1908 - 1993), Prancing House, Gouache on Paper, Signed l.r., Frame: 15 3/4 x 17 1/2 in. (40 x 44.5 cm.)

          Est: $600 - $800

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (American, Taos, 1908 - 1993), Prancing House, Gouache on Paper, Signed l.r.,

          Weschler's
        • David Brewer (WakPa) (Lakota, 20th Century) 'Ghost Rider' Oil on Canvas
          Sep. 17, 2023

          David Brewer (WakPa) (Lakota, 20th Century) 'Ghost Rider' Oil on Canvas

          Est: $300 - $500

          David Brewer (WakPa) (Lakota, 20th Century) 'Ghost Rider' Oil on Canvas 1991, signed lower right, depicting a Native American on horseback, wood frame; together with (2) Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee) (American, 1906-1993) silkscreens of a blue horse with two birds and blue antelopes running, signed, matted and framed Property from: a Private Collector, Skokie, Illinois Category: Fine Art > Paintings Estimated Sale Time: 12:15 pm CST Shipping Status: Leonard Auction, Inc. will provide direct shipping for this lot. Please visit our website for a shipping estimate. Last modified: September 11, 2023, 11:52 am

          Leonard Auction
        • Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Untitled (Two Leaping Blue Deer)
          Aug. 15, 2023

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Untitled (Two Leaping Blue Deer)

          Est: $800 - $1,200

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee] (Taos, 1903 - 1996) Untitled (Two Leaping Blue Deer) mixed media on paper signed lower right: Pop Chalee / [artist's cipher]

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • A Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) painting
          Dec. 08, 2022

          A Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) painting

          Est: $1,000 - $2,000

          Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) Taos Pueblo, (1908-1993), depicting a forest interior with pairs of animals, 1939, gouache on paper under Plexiglas, signed and dated lower right: Pop-Chalee / 39. sight: height 11 1/4in, width 10 1/4in

          Bonhams
        • MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE "LEAPING STAGGS" GOUACHE ON BOARD
          Dec. 04, 2022

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE "LEAPING STAGGS" GOUACHE ON BOARD

          Est: -

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee "Leaping Staggs" Gouache on Board. Born Merina Lujan in Castle Rock, Utah, she had strong ties to the Taos Pueblo, the New Mexico home of her father, Joseph Cruz Lujan. At the Pueblo, she received the name Pop Chalee, which means "Blue Flower" in English. Although, she also spent much time away from the Pueblo, (her mother, Merea Luenberger, was from Utah) the Taos culture had a special life-long influence on her including exposure to the Taos Art Colony painters. As an artist "she devoted herself to the flat, two-dimensional 'traditional' style of Indian painting", (King) but injected lighthearted imaginary touches that appealed to the wide audience of both adults and children. Many of her works are large and small interior forest scenes with fantasy creatures enhanced by imagination-driven colors. Usually a central subject is a single deer, who, in turn is surrounded by pairs or families of animals, Indian figures, flowers, bird-like creatures, and flying horses. Many of her small paintings have opaque watercolor on black paper, and almost all of her paintings have very bright coloration. She began art training in 1935 at age 29. She studied at the Santa Fe Indian School in the Studio classes with Dorothy Dunn, whose flat decorative style she emulated. From the beginning, she was singled out as a special art student, and shortly after her 1937 graduation from the Indian School, she had a studio and a positive response from collectors for her whimsical paintings. She also became a mural painter and completed several murals in airports, banks, hotels and stores including Marshall Fields in Chicago, Santa Fe Railroad Ticket Office in Santa Fe, New Mexico State Capitol Building, the Albuquerque Airport and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. An early commission was Maisel's Trading Post in Albuquerque. Of the several artists selected, which included Harrison Begay, Pablita Velarde and Joe Herrera, she was the only one who did not paint traditional tribal subjects but instead, did one of her imaginary, dreamy forest scenes in bold colors and decorative style. In the 1940s, she painted twelve murals for the Albuquerque Airport Terminal building. Then with expansion of the building, they were in storage for two decades, but by 1990 were re-installed and featured with special places and lighting for each mural in the second level or Great Hall of the remodeled International airport. In the 1940s in Phoenix, Arizona, she had a radio talk show on which she told many Indian legend stories and talked about Southwest Indian art. She married Edward Lee (Ntay), a member of the Navajo tribe, and they had an art and ornamental art store in Scottsdale. "The barely five-foot-tall painter was a colorful promoter, dressed in a white, Pueblo-style dress, which was complemented with elaborate silver and turquoise jewelry. Her dark hair, dramatically parted in the middle, was worn in braids which fell almost to her waist." (King). Artist: Merina Lujan Pop Chalee Title: "Leaping Staggs" Medium: Gouache on Board Signature Type: Hand Signed Signature Location: Lower Right Site Measurement: 5 x 5.75in Keywords: Native American, Indian Artwork, Art; Ref: BD1771

          Bradford's
        • Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, Peyote Medicine
          Nov. 04, 2022

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, Peyote Medicine

          Est: $6,000 - $9,000

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee] (Taos, 1908 - 1996) Peyote Medicine gouache on paper signed lower right: Pop Chalee / [feather cipher]

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, (1908 - 1993), Untitled (Peacock-alope)
          Aug. 13, 2022

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, (1908 - 1993), Untitled (Peacock-alope)

          Est: $1,000 - $2,000

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (1908 - 1993) Untitled (Family of Deer and Plant Life) gouache on paper signed lower right: Pop-Chalee

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • Merina Lujan Pop Chalee Silkscreen On Paper
          Apr. 30, 2022

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee Silkscreen On Paper

          Est: -

          Titled: Two Leaping Blue Deer. The Frame Is Loose. This Piece Is Signed In The Lower Right. The Frame Measures Approximately 15in. H X 19in. The Art Measures Approximately 5.5in. H X 6in. Tm4173 Kb

          EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
        • Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Untitled (Skunk and Squirrel)
          Aug. 14, 2021

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee], Untitled (Skunk and Squirrel)

          Est: $800 - $1,200

          Merina Lujan [Pop Chalee] (Taos, 1903 - 1996) Untitled (Skunk and Squirrel) gouache on paper signed lower right: Pop-Chalee / [feather cipher]

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • Pop Chalee, Blue Horse and Leaping Stags, Watercolor
          Nov. 30, 2019

          Pop Chalee, Blue Horse and Leaping Stags, Watercolor

          Est: $250 - $450

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (American, 1908-1993), blue horse and leaping stags, original watercolor drawing, 5 1/4" x 6" (view), framed 10 1/2" x 10 1/2". Provenance: From a La Jolla, California estate.

          Kaminski Auctions
        • Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee), The Forest, 1936
          Nov. 09, 2019

          Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee), The Forest, 1936

          Est: $10,000 - $15,000

          MERINA LUJAN (Pop Chalee) (Taos, 1906-1993)The Forest , 1936 tempera gouache on paper signed and dated lower right: Pop-Chalee 36" Dimensions: 14 1/4 x 22 1/2 inches Framed Dimensions: 23 5/8 x 31 1/8 inches Provenance: Patricia Janis Broder Collection, New Jersey Literature: Patricia Janis Broder, American Indian: Painting & Sculpture, New York, 1981, p. 36. Patricia Janis Broder, Earth Songs, Moon Dreams, New York, 1999, p. 28-29, No. 13.

          Santa Fe Art Auction
        • Forest
          Apr. 07, 2018

          Forest

          Est: -

          Large original featuring many trees of the forest as well as the animals that call it home

          David Barber Auctions
        • Pop Chalee, Taos (1906 - 1993) Enchanted Forest goua
          Dec. 13, 2016

          Pop Chalee, Taos (1906 - 1993) Enchanted Forest goua

          Est: $1,000 - $1,500

          Pop Chalee, Taos (1906 - 1993) Enchanted Forest gouache on black board, signed, lower right, framed Dimensions: 17 x 17 ½ inches including frame

          Heritage Auctions
        • MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor.
          Dec. 13, 2016

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor.

          Est: $250 - $300

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor - Framed, sight: 5 1/4 in. x 6 1/4 in.

          Sloans & Kenyon
        • MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor.
          Nov. 12, 2016

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor.

          Est: $300 - $400

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (Native American, 1908-1993). LEAPING STAGS, signed lower right. Watercolor - Framed, sight: 5 1/4 in. x 6 1/4 in.

          Sloans & Kenyon
        • 2 POP CHALEE, MERINA LUJAN (NATIVE AMERICAN 1906-1993) SILKSCREENS BLUE HORSE AND GAZELLES, SIGNED IN PRINT, OVERALL SIZE 10 1/2" X 11"
          Apr. 22, 2016

          2 POP CHALEE, MERINA LUJAN (NATIVE AMERICAN 1906-1993) SILKSCREENS BLUE HORSE AND GAZELLES, SIGNED IN PRINT, OVERALL SIZE 10 1/2" X 11"

          Est: -

          2 POP CHALEE, MERINA LUJAN (NATIVE AMERICAN 1906-1993) SILKSCREENS BLUE HORSE AND GAZELLES, SIGNED IN PRINT, OVERALL SIZE 10 1/2" X 11"

          Apple Tree Auction Center
        • Pop Chalee, Blue Horse Silkscreen
          Oct. 15, 2015

          Pop Chalee, Blue Horse Silkscreen

          Est: $80 - $120

          Pop Chalee, Native American (1906-1993). Approx. 4 1/2" H x 7 1/2" W sight, 10 1/2" H x 12 1/2" W framed. Stain on mat.

          Time & Again Galleries
        • Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee) American, 1908-1993 Horses
          Aug. 12, 2015

          Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee) American, 1908-1993 Horses

          Est: $400 - $600

          Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee) American, 1908-1993 Horses Signed Pop Chalee (lr) Gouache on paper 9 1/8 x 11 7/8 inches • 

          Doyle New York
        • Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, (American, 1908-1993), Untitled together with a book
          Nov. 13, 2014

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee, (American, 1908-1993), Untitled together with a book

          Est: $500 - $700

          Merina Lujan Pop Chalee (American, 1908-1993) Untitled together with a book gouache on paper signed Pop-Chalee (lower right) 10 1/2 x 14 inches.

          Hindman
        • Chalee, Silkscreen of Horse and Birds
          May. 18, 2014

          Chalee, Silkscreen of Horse and Birds

          Est: $300 - $500

          Pop Chalee (American 1906-1993), silkscreen of a blue horse and two birds, matted and framed with original label from M. L. Woodard Indian Arts, Gallup, NM, 1962, 5 1/4"h x 6"w (view), 10 1/2"h x 11"w (frame). Provenance: From a Gloucester, MA estate.

          Kaminski Auctions
        • MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (1908-1993) BLUE HORSE Gouache on paper: 5 1/4 x 6 in. (sight)
          Feb. 22, 2014

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (1908-1993) BLUE HORSE Gouache on paper: 5 1/4 x 6 in. (sight)

          Est: $400 - $600

          MERINA LUJAN POP CHALEE (1908-1993) BLUE HORSE Gouache on paper: 5 1/4 x 6 in. (sight) Framed; lower right signed "Pop Chalee"

          Potomack Company
        • Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) - (1906-1993)
          Aug. 10, 2013

          Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) - (1906-1993)

          Est: $900 - $1,800

          Signed original watercolor on paper depicting a pair of bison. Very good condition.

          Allard Auctions
        • Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) - (1906-1993) Signed
          Aug. 10, 2013

          Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) - (1906-1993) Signed

          Est: $900 - $1,800

          Pop Chalee (Merina Lujan) - (1906-1993) Signed original watercolor on paper depicting a pair of bison. Very good condition. Circa: Ca. 1970s Size: 4-3/4" x 6-3/4" (14" x 15-1/2" Framed)

          Allard Auctions
        • Pop Chalee (1908 - 1993)
          Aug. 14, 2004

          Pop Chalee (1908 - 1993)

          Est: $400 - $800

          Classic, black background, signed original gouache on art paper of a single stylized golden horse. 13" x 16" (21" x 23" framed)

          Allard Auctions
        • Pop Chalee
          Aug. 11, 2001

          Pop Chalee

          Est: $600 - $1,200

          Rare, original gouache on board of a stylized blue horse and rider on black background. 9" X 13"

          Allard Auctions
        • Pop Chalee
          Aug. 11, 2001

          Pop Chalee

          Est: $350 - $700

          Fine, signed, original gouache on hard board of two stylized buffalo. 5" X 7"

          Allard Auctions
        • Pop Chalee
          Aug. 11, 2001

          Pop Chalee

          Est: $175 - $350

          Very rare silk screen print of a single, gray-hooded, buffalo dancer. 11" X 9"

          Allard Auctions
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