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Story Last modified at 10:27 a.m. on Monday, November 26, 2007

Eagle River artist's Geronimo painting receives surprising appraisal

By Mary Wasche
For The Star

When Eagle River artist Eunice Caraway heard an appraisal had determined that a painting of Geronimo she had painted 25 years ago was worth $10,000, she was surprised, to say the least.

“I was stunned, flabbergasted. It was hard to believe,” Caraway said.


Eagle River artist Eunice Caraway holds a print of a Geromino painting that she painted and sold for $400 about 25 years ago, which an appraisal has determined is now worth $10,000.
The painting is currently on display in a restaurant owned by Caraway's daughter, Lynette Bedingfield, in Queen, N.M.

“Geronimo's a big deal around here,” Bedingfield said, adding that her mother-in-law, Anita Bedingfield, who commissioned the painting from Caraway and paid her $400 for it, quickly increased insurance coverage after having it appraised.

Anita Bedingfield originally bought the painting for her husband, Wayne, a descendent of Geronimo.

“When I first got it, I knew it was one of the best works Eunice ever did. We decided to have it appraised after it got so much attention from Indians on the White Mountain Indian Reservation,” she said.

According to Anita Bedingfield, while their daughter, Cindy, a teacher on the reservation, had the painting on display in her home, residents of the reservation loved it so much they would sneak into the house and leave mementos, such as rocks and feathers for Geronimo.

“We heard from other teachers there that the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino near us might pay up to $100,000 for the painting,” Anita Bedingfield said. “But we didn't know if it was true. We've never been interested in selling unless there's a serious reason.”

She said she and her husband have given the painting back to their children and will let them make the decision of whether or not to eventually sell it.

Speaking for her siblings, Lynette Bedingfield said they plan to keep a low profile about the value of the painting.

“The painting is the number one focal point in our caf, but we don't want people to know how much it's worth,” she said.

When she painted Geronimo, Caraway and her husband, Norris, lived in Anchor Point and made their living as artists. She created the picture by studying photos of the famous Apache chief.

Caraway's husband, Norris, said he recognized his wife's talent as an artist on their first date.

“She pulled a big box out from under her bed and showed me the pictures she painted. I knew right then that this woman would be a great artist. I predicted it on our first date, but she didn't have a clue,” he said.

The Caraways are now semi-retired, following a career steeped in art that began in the mid-1970s. Norris Caraway said he decided to quit his job about that time, after his wife framed four of his paintings to be displayed at her art show. When all four of his paintings sold right away, he joined her in her profession.

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This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, November 22, 2007.