Indian art market creations have strong connection to nature
More than 100 American Indian artists will showcase the magic of their talent this Saturday and Sunday during Sharlot Hall Museum's 16th annual Prescott Indian Art Market.
This year's featured artist is Hopi Gerry Quotskuyva, who is renowned for his katsina carvings and paintings. Following the Hopi tradition of an artist gathering his own raw material, Quotskuyva takes roots from cottonwood trees along the Verde River and uses them as the basis of his carvings. He breaks off the bulk of the root with a power tool and, with a pocketknife, he creates intricate shapes. Wood burner in hand, he creates details and then finishes each piece with acrylic paint.
Quotskuyva was born in the Hopi village Shungopavi. The inspiration to carve katsinas came to him when a corn maiden appeared in a dream.
"He awoke feeling compelled to carve the image," the show's publicity co-chair Vera Williams said.
The dark patina of basaltic lava rock forms the canvas for petroglyphs that David Morris, another artist in the show, creates. He scours the desert for just the right stones to trigger his imagination. He uses a river rock hammer stone to carve his designs, which mirror his fascination with the petroglyphs of Arizona. This fascination with one of Arizona's historic characteristics is what has given Morris the vision for his work. He is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Tim Washburn will exhibit stone sculpture that begins with quarried alabaster. He created his Prescott Indian Art Market "Best of Show" winning design from Colorado alabaster - a pink/white stone touched by a slight translucent quality. The shape and color of the stone guide his hand as he cuts it with electric tools and then finishes his piece with files, grinders and fine sandpaper. Washburn is a Navajo from Kirtland, N.M.
Earlier in his career, Patrick Smith crafted traditional Navajo jewelry before changing his direction to the contemporary jewelry he is famous for today. His hollow-form technique allows him to create massive-looking pieces that are unexpectedly light in weight. He melts down the silver and processes it into thin sheets, using special tools he has designed to produce his work. He then cuts his stones into the shapes he desires for his pieces of jewelry.
The two-day art market runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 18.
"After 16 years, it's become a dance. There's a momentum to it," Sharlot Hall Museum curator Sandy Lynch said of the art market. "It's remarkable. The choreography begins in December" when "heroes," people from all aspects of the community, put in thousands of volunteer hours setting the stage for the event, which draws upwards of 5,000 people, Lynch said.
"The community of Prescott has adopted this art market," she said. The group putting it together "goes far beyond Sharlot Hall Museum borders."
The artists represent 26 tribal nations from Arizona, New Mexico and several other points in the nation's Indian country. Among them are 30 jewelers, 20 painters, six bronze and stone sculptors and a dozen traditional and heritage art artists, some of whom will demonstrate their artistry.
Performers will include the Maldonado family, Adrian Wall and "Artificial Red," with dancers, flutes, drums and guitars. As always, freshly made fry bread will be available.
What makes this show stand out are the relationships that develop between artists and the people who come to see their work and may save money for several years to buy a piece from their favorite artisan, Lynch said.
"When people come, they are not collecting art," she said. "They are collecting artists' friendships. They stay in touch."