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Features: Henry Cabot Beck / Southwest Art
 
 
 
 
 

A good showing

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Beck profiles several artists who won best of classification awards at the 2003 Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. These include Diane Douglas-Willard, Lottie J. Archuleta, and Veronica Poblano.


MEET THE EIGHT ARTISTS WHO WON BEST OF CLASSIFICATION AWARDS AT THIS YEAR`S HEARD MUSEUM GUILD INDIAN FAIR & MARKET BY HENRY CABOT BECK

Diane Douglas-Willard

BASKET-WEAVER DIANE DOUGLAS-WILLARD, who is in her mid-40s, was born in California, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest-in Bellingham, WA, and in her father`s ancestral village, Hydaburg, AK. "What I didn`t know when I started out was that one of my great-aunts was also a weaver, and I inherited some of her baskets after she died. It came as a surprise and a source of inspiration," says Douglas-Willard, who believes that basket weaving is something of an endangered art these days, even in Alaska. She explains, "There has been a lot of logging in this area, so we do come at risk of losing our resources. Fortunately there are a number of small, uninhabited islands nearby where I can still find what I need." Her baskets are often fashioned of red or yellow cedar, spruce root, and ferns, and the high season for gathering materials is in early summer. Currently she lives with her husband in Ketchikan, AK, a town of roughly 14,000 where many of the residents belong to one of two tribes, Haida or Tlingit. Douglas-Willard initially moved there in order to be closer to her mentor, Dolores Churchill. The type of finely detailed` baskets she learned to weave were, at some point in the past, often used for gathering clams and seaweed. Her work continues to be largely traditional in nature, and she draws predominantly on the techniques of the Haida weavers, which are distinguishable from Tlingit, she remarks, only by a matter of some small degree. "The Haidas hold their baskets upside down when they weave them," she points out with a chuckle, "while the Tlingits hold them right side up." Diane Douglas-Willard is represented by Eagle Spirit Gallery, Ketchikan, AK, and Alaska Eagle Art, Ketchikan, AK.

Lottie J. Archuleta

BORN IN SANTA FE, NM, and raised in nearby Taos and the San Juan Pueblo just west of Taos, painter Lottie J. Archuieta, 49, is a two-time grandmother. "It took me 20 years to get back into my art, and now it`s my time to do what I`ve been wanting to do all my life," she says. Her first entry in the Heard competition-a mixed-media painting-made her a winner. To create the work, called ACOMA CHURCH, she took a historic 1880s photograph of the renowned church in the Acoma Pueblo, Sky City, and enlarged it from its original 11 by 8 inches to poster size, then painted over it with acrylics. The church in her painting was built in the 1600s and is a remarkable piece of art in itself, but Archuleta has moved it outside of its historical context and given it an entirely new perspective. "I made it a three-dimensional work by painting over it and adding figures-it looks as though you`re going into the church, into the chapel itself," she says with some pride. "In this area, mixed media, my competition is primarily men, and I have to say I think I`m doing pretty well, considering." Archuleta`s work can be seen at the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Fair.

Veronica Poblano

"I WANT TO BE KNOWN as a one-of-a-kind artist," suggests Veronica Poblano, 51, of the Zuni Pueblo, located 40 miles south of Gallup, NM, and one of the largest pueblos in New Mexico. Poblano is the daughter of renowned Zuni artist Leo Poblano, who died fighting a forest fire in 1959, when Veronica was a child. "My late father was one of the pioneers, one of the first fetish carvers that ever lived in Zuni back in the 1930s and `40s," she says. Poblano currently runs the Galleria Poblano in the Zuni Pueblo, where she makes and sells her own fetishes, jewelry, and carvings. "My work is very sculptural and very modern, with a lot of flowing aspects, all very colorful," she describes. "My youngest son Dylan is also very innovative and one of the cutting-edge artists in this area," she adds, pointing out that Dylan is becoming renowned in his own right by moving outside the Zuni traditions and drawing on the work of couture fashion designers Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier as influences. Poblano won the Heard prize in sculpture for a Zuni maiden figure titled FAYE inlaid with Sleeping Beauty turquoise, about which she comments, "I`m trying to accomplish what my father never accomplished. I believe in the spirit world and my father`s spirit has guided me. I feel I have a need to complete his mission, and I`m sure his spirit is in each one of my carvings." Veronica Poblano is represented by Grey Dog Trading Company, Tucson, AZ; Tribal Expressions, Arlington Heights, IL; Dancing Bear, Chicago, IL; Common Ground Gallery, New York, NY; and Four Winds Gallery, Sydney, Australia.

Jamie Okuma

JAMIE OKUMA, 25, WAS BORN in Glendale, CA, and moved to the La Jolla Reservation in San Diego County when she was 5. She`s lived there ever since, except for the two years she studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her Indian ancestry is on her mother`s side, a mix of Luiseno and Shoshone-Bannock, while her father is Hawaiian-Okinawan. Her mother, Sandra Okuma, is a graphics designer who at one time worked at MCA/Universal Records, designing album cover art for Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, and Cher`s "Half Breed" album, among others. Raised at a distance from her mom`s rock-and-roll world, Okuma became known for her elaborate beadwork as a child, which was inspired by attending powwows and watching the dancers in their elaborate dresses. She beaded her first powwow ceremonial dress at the age of 5, and made her first doll at 15, a 19th century Sioux woman. She purposely designs dolls, or soft sculptures as she calls them, for a variety of tribes, and the doll that won the prize at the Heard is from a tribe in Nova Scotia, the Micmac (or Mi`kmaq). What distinguishes her work is her attention to detail and accuracy. "It`s a little overwhelming at times, the work that goes into it, but to my knowledge there`s only a handful of us that do beadwork in this way," she says. "And I`m always trying new things, making more detailed figures and larger works."

Ernest Moore

ERNEST MOORE IS A FULL-BLOODED, 69-year-old Hopi who worked most of his life as a commercial artist and ran a printing shop in Phoenix before he discovered that he could make a handsome living carving kachina figures, some of which are now on permanent display at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Born in Moenkopi, AZ, Moore lives today in Tonalea, AZ, a town of roughly 2,500 people on the edge of the Navajo reservation. A semi-recluse, Moore takes pleasure in his single-wide trailer, porch, studio, used truck, three cats, and three "res" dogs, who have adopted Moore or vice versa. His sister-in-law Sylvia Moore runs interference for Moore when he`s immersed in his work, which is most of the time. According to her, Moore learned much of what he knows watching his uncle, Joe Moore, carve kachinas-mythological and religious icons that, by tradition, are supposed to be carved only by those who have been sanctioned by the tribe. Moore`s entry in the Heard competition, PALHIK MAMANTDUM DANCE GROUP, is a group of 24 figures depicting the Hopi Butterfly Dance. When asked to describe her brother-in-law, Sylvia Moore breaks into raucous laughter. "Oh, Ernie?" she says. "Oh, god, is he bullheaded! It practically took an act of Congress to get him to start entering shows. He was carving for a guy who was selling to Japanese collectors, and he got shingles and an overactive thyroid and couldn`t carve for a year and his dealer gave up." Some capsules from the doctor eventually cleared up the artist`s troubles. "Then," recalls Sylvia Moore, "when he got better, he was carving to beat the band! Ernie`s in seventh heaven."

Polly Rose Folwell

POLLY ROSE FOLWELL, 40, LIVES IN WHITE ROCK, NM, in a suburb of Los Alamos that was built for the scientists who collaborated in creating the nuclear bomb. Folwell, a Pueblo Indian of the Tewa tribe, comes from a long line of highly respected Tewa potters, including her grandmother, Rose Naranjo, and her mother, Jody Folwell. She reminisces, "Santa Clara [Pueblo], where I grew up, is an area known for its pottery. As a child, I could go to nearly any friend`s house and grandmas, aunts, mothers, fathers, uncles-everybody was doing pottery there." Folwell is best known for her modern flourishes and innovations in both the design and illustrations found on the pottery. Her winning piece, titled NINE-ELEVEN, incorporates the image of the Manhattan skyline and a big apple, set against more traditional Native designs. Much of Folwell`s desire to incorporate topical themes came From her mother, who also added political and social images to her own work, which addressed equal rights issues and feminist ideas. "I don`t hold myself to tradition, and while I do use many traditional methods, I don`t see myself as a traditionalist," she says. From her point of view, "Since the beginning of time there`s always been imagination, creativity, and curiosity, and I believe people will always be doing something new with earth and clay." Folwell is represented by Grey Dog Trading Company, Tucson, AZ, and Robert Nichols Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.

Dorothy Grant

DOROTHY GRANT, 48, is of the Raven clan, Kalgani Halda tribe, and was born in Hydaburg, AK. Grant was raised in Ketchikan, at the southernmost part of Alaska, a land of salmon fishers, craftspeople, and ever-increasing numbers of cruise-ship tourists. She now lives and designs clothing in Vancouver, BC, a city she moved to when she attended the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design, graduating in 1988. She won the Heard competition with a piece called RAVEN ROBE. Grant, who sells a wide variety of clothing and items that refer to Haida traditions and designs, began her work by elaborating on the artwork found on the Native ceremonial garb referred to as "button blankets," which were used to trade for fur as far back as the early 1800s. "Button blankets," she explains, "are ceremonial blankets that Northwest Coast people used in potlatches, or when a chief gets a new name or someone gets a new house-all kinds of ceremonies. Each family wears their crest on their backs with these blankets. They`re often thought of as totem poles on cloth." So, what sorts of technological advances have been made in the roughly 160 years since button blankets and Native clothing were used to trade for furs? "The greatest technological difference between my ancestors and me," Grant responds with a laugh, "is sharp scissors. Sharp scissors, good lighting, better tables and fabric adhesives-but I can`t be giving away my secrets now, can I?" Dorothy Grant is represented by Dorothy Grant Boutique, Vancouver, BC, and Eagle Spirit Gallery, Ketchikan, AK.

Raymond C. Yazzie

RAYMOND C. YAZZIE, 43, SPENT HIS EARLIEST YEARS on the Navajo reservation, moving to Gamerca, NM, a small community just north of Gallup, at the age of 8. Yazzie was raised in a family of silversmiths and learned his craft early, winning his first prize when he was 14 at the 1973 Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial for a concha belt. Since then he`s become widely recognized for his elaborate gold and silver bracelets and rings, which are made with an ever-dwindling supply of top-grade stones, like Bisbee Turquoise, and beautiful corals. Of his designs he says, "I`m a full-blooded Navajo, but there`s very little of that that finds its way into my work. As a matter of fact, if you look closely, you can actually find more of a Hopi influence-a kachina mask, abstracted in the inlay." The prize at the Heard was awarded him for an 18k bracelet called BLESSINGS which Yazzie is selling for $75,000. A proficient businessman as well as artist, Yazzie runs Yazzie`s Indian Art Gallery in downtown Gallup with his wife, Colina. The shop sits right on Route 66, just across the street from the train tracks that bring a string of boxcars hurtling through every 15 minutes. "It makes everything shake," Yazzie acknowledges, "but you do get used to it." Raymond C. Yazzie is represented by Yazzie`s Indian Art, Gallup, NM; Lovena Ohl Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; and Packard`s on the Plaza, Santa Fe, NM. His work can also be seen at www.sedonawolf.com.

ILLUSTRATIONS

CLAM GATHERING BASKET, RED AND YELLOW CEDAR BARK, 14 & 14.







FAYE, CONCH SHELL INLAID WITH SLEEPING BEAUTY TURQUOISE, H 7 1/4.





PALHIK MAMANTDUM DANCE GROUP, COTTONWOOD ROOT, H18 TO H24.









RAVEN APPLIQUED ROBE, WOOL/CASHMERE WITH ULTRASUEDE FRINGE, MOTHER-OF-PEARL BUTTONS, AND WHITE HEART TRADE BEADS.

BLESSINGS BRACELET, 18K GOLD WITH KINGMAN, ORVIL JACK, AND FOX TURQUOISE; TURQUOISE UTAH JADE; WHITE, ORANGE, RED, AND OX BLOOD RED CORAL; BLACK ONYX; AUSTRALIAN OPAL; LAPIS; SUGELITE; AND FOSSILIZED IVORY.



AUTHOR AFFILIATION

Henry Cabot Beck, who divides his time between Phoenix and New York City, can also be found in the pages of the New York Daily News, Interview, and Country Music.

COPYRIGHT: Copyright Sabot Publishing, Inc. Aug 2003. Provided by Proquest- CSA, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Only fair use as provided by the United States copyright law is permitted.

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