Thursday, August 31, 2006

Navajo Artist Robert Goodluck Homeless One More Time

NOB HILL--This is not a tough luck story. This is a report on the state of Love in our streets.

I have known Robert Goodluck for maybe 8 years, not intimately, but well enough that whenever I bought a smudge stick from him I asked for a blessing with it. He always obliged. He always brought me luck--not 'casino' luck, but a sort of spiritual luck that lets my soul drift into better places and calmer waters.

Robert hasn't been around for a while. He and his parner Johanna have been staying with family over near Gibson Blvd., but something happened and now the two of them are on the street again. They were selling sage sticks on Central Ave. trying to get enough for a room. I bought one...well actually I just gave them a couple bucks and didn't take a sage stick. After all, what I really needed was the blessing.

They told me of being at the Indian Market in Santa Fe, and their camp near the Villa Linda Mall. One night the police came and held them at gunpoint while they knelt in the darkness. The police, it seems, had a report of shots being fired and were looking for the shooters. Eventually the police went away.

But, all in all, this is the best Robert has looked since I have known him. Johanna too. They talked about how good people have been to them and their recent blessing by a Pipe Carrier. Johanna keeps them doing the little things that make life better--like replacing lost documents. Robert has that kind of dangerous sensitivity that many artists share...that ability to reach into his own soul for images. But this gift is not totally positive. This opening up of one's insides makes him vulnerable to bouts of sadness and self-medication. But not this time. I think Johanna keeps him focused on the better life.

I have been told that Robert has work in the Heard Museum. He is listed on AskArt. I do know that he in an Icon here in Nob Hill. Wouldn't it be great if a little of that "One Percent for the Arts" money found its way into his hands? Wouldn't it be great if something of his were displayed right here in Nob Hill?


Curt Hopkins said...

That's an excellent idea, that arts moneys be partially earmarked for help with artists who've become indigent.

Marisa said...

My boyfriend Brian and I met Robert tonight on campus at UNM. He's still the artist he's described as here, and did a drawing for us while he ate the sandwich we bought him for dinner. He says, with real art supplies, he can "make images come alive." A neat guy, definitely down on his luck. It was a privilege to meet him.

Nena Phillips said...

Robert is my brother, the third child in a family of four brothers and one sister. My brother is a genius that lost his sights on success to something that haunts most Navajo people, the drink. We are all still living, some more successful than the other but the love I have for Robert and my other brothers does not diminish with each passing day. Robert and I just finished talking on the phone about our lives, our children and the kind of legacy we want to leave behind for them and their children. Life's a struggle but we have each other to lean on, and God to help even when we think we don't need help. I'm glad to report that Robert is still keen of mind and fun to talk with. It's a privilege to have such a wonderful brother. Nena Phillips

Cynthia Jeannette said...

Recently I met Robert at the Campus Laundry as we were both washing and drying our cloths. We struck up a great conversation and found that we went to the same high school, Albuquerque High and though he was a few years older than me, we shared so many of the same things growing up in the area. We continued to talk until I was done folding and ordering my cloths in my baskets, when he asked for a piece of blank paper and drew a quick sketch and gave it to me. We decided to continue our conversation at the Frontier when I realized that if he had some materials to work with he might be able to make enough to at least feed himself an get a room if the weather gets bad again.
I dropped Robert off at the Duck Pond where we exchanged our good by and good luck. He walked away with his small duffle bag of cloths and on crutches. It was my good fortune to have met him as he filled my morning with meaning, I hope I was able to do the same for him. I was glad to have found this page, I decided to look him up and maybe find an article on the days he played basket ball for AHS in the years before my time there. This morning I will be having a 1973 reunion with some of my high school buddies and will be asking others to remember him as well. Blessings to Robert and all our Roberts on living day to day. He certainly is a blessing to me. Cynthia J.

Anonymous said...

I ran across this article and am proud to see that I was able to finally see a lost relative. I am the daughter of Nena Phillips Roberts sister. My mother has been blessed to have five wonderful children, Christine Goodluck, Natasha Smith, Sonya Mcdonald, Patrick Mcdonald, Arthur Phillips as well as being the grand mother to Sade Goodluck, Ashley Goodluck, Aaron Goodluck, Natasha Smiths son and Christina. I and Natasha were placed for adoption at an very eary age, but miraculously God allowed us to cross paths. Now, I am honored to find a picture of another long lost relative, Mr. Robert Goodluck. May you have peace for the rest of your days.

kate said...

This is the strangest thing that's ever happened to me. I just bought Robert Goodluck some art supplies at an art store on Indian School and 16th street. I didn't know who he was but he was roaming the isiles looking at the sketch books and he approached me. I didn't really know what to do, but I felt compelled to buy him a few colored pencils and other tools he would need. I hope with these tools he finds a way back to where he needs to be.

Anonymous said...

I work for a cvs pharmacy in downtown phoenix. Mr. Goodluck and a friend of his, a man with a bear paw tattoo over one eye, steal liquor, cosmetics and other product from my store on a weekly basis. Unfortunately I had them arrested today for yet another liquor theft. That is how I came to know Robert's full name and a bit of his history in the arts.

james fendenheim said...

I went to art school with Robert in Santa fe many years ago I'm so glad your still alive Robert . It's funny I've been thinking of him lately and just googled his name I'll be at Indian market next weekend in Santa fe. God is with you Robert more closer than any pope or minister on earth I truly believe he lays beside you every nite and wakes with you everyday please ask for our forgiveness. Someday we all will walk together in that sacred pasture of life because we did live together at this time of earth. If I don't see you at market Robert we will meet in the pasture together again. Peace and love bro

Anonymous said...

It is now mid 2016. I haven't seen Robert for several years. I met him, and he enriched my life. I was sorry for the position the government has left him in... I gave him many art supplies that were stolen while he slept in homeless shelters. Even his crutches were stolen one night. What a story! He left me with a dozen beautiful Medicine Man images that I will cherish the rest of my days on this earth. I know they will bless their next owner, as they have me.

Marian Hemstree