Indigenous art. Indigenous perspectives.

Native Art Week Snapshots: Coe Center, Sorrel Sky, True West, King Galleries, Blue Rain Gallery


Santa Fe, N.M. – Native Art Week, the week of SWAIA Indian Market means openings and events galore. It’s impossible to see and do it all, but I’ll be rushing all over downtown this year to bring as much news as I can!

Kenneth Johnson (Muscogee-Seminole) and Rachel De W. Wixom, president and CEO of Ralph T. Coe Center.

My Thursday started at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where I helped my sister Shelley Patrick move into the dorms along with other artists from all over the country. From there, I headed to the Ralph T. Coe Center to check out Currents, Moving Forward: The Muscogee Canoe Paddle Project presented by Kenneth Johnson (Muscogee) and a beading demonstration by Joyce, Juanita, Jessa, Gracelynn, and Georgeanne Growing Thunder.

“We come here every year to support because Ted Coe and my mother, Joyce Growing Thunder, were probably best friends, so to us it’s like we get to be around him again,” said Juanita Growing Thunder. “We’re around all his things, and we sit in here and demonstrate and get to visit with people and see old friends, and it’s a great time for us to catch up with people.”

Georgeanne Growing Thunder beads at Ralph T. Coe Center.

“I grew up around these things…This was all part of our experience here at Indian Market, so being able to come here every year and set up and visit with everyone and reminesce and talk…That’s what Indian Market is about, this type of legacy,” said Jessa Growing Thunder.

Six-year-old Georgeanne, a recipient of this year’s SWAIA Youth Fellowship, had no comment. She was too busy beading.

Next, I went to the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts for the opening of their summer/fall exhibits, Meeting the Clouds Halfway: Terrol Dew Johnson and Aranda\Lasch, Expanding Horizons: Darren Vigil Gray, and Holly Wilson: On Turtle’s Back. I walked in on a conversation between Johnson (Tohono O’odham) and a group of collectors and admirers discussing one of his baskets.

“It was inspired by Nancy Youngblood‘s pottery,” said Johnson. If you ever look at her melon pot, they have those corrugated rims, so I was inspired by that and I took that idea to architects. They have a computer and they just sort of put in all their mathematical stuff and they came up with a design, so when I got it, it was actually like a dress pattern. So what I did was I picked the wood, the color scheme, and I cut out each piece, sewed it together, but because it is an accordion, it wouldn’t expand because it was tightly woven, so in order to finish it I had to stuff it with clothes and paper. If you take it apart, it’s just going to collapse. They call it an accordion basket, but I call it a corrugated basket.”

Terrel Dow Johnson (Tohono O’odham) discusses his basket at IAIA MoCNA.

A side view of Holly Wilson’s “Bloodlines” at IAIA MoCNA.










Next up was a visit to Sorrel Sky Gallery, which was bustling with artists and visitors, as it always is during Market. This evening the gallery held a reception for featured artists Ben Nighthorse, Ray Tracey and Kevin Red Star.

Kevin Red Star (Apsáalooke [Crow])at Sorrel Sky Gallery.








A short walk away, I visited the Indian Market Opening Party at True West Gallery, another place where artists and visitors mingled, and conversations about art swirled among the live music.

Sculptor Eddy Shorty (Navajo) at True West Gallery.

Selling jewelry at True West Gallery.










The evening was more subdued at nearby King Galleries because their main events begin tomorrow night. Owner Charles S. King explained a little about the gallery’s upcoming Market-week events.

“This year we’ve had two shows for Indian Market. The first was with bronzes and canvas, so we had Tammy Garcia and Autumn Borts-Medlock here with bronzes and Philip Vigil, who is a younger, incredible painter and Jarrod Da. Tomorrow is our big show, and we’ll have nine potters here,” he said. “There’s a real variety to what we’ve got. There are really established artists, like Nathan Youngblood and Tammy Garcia, Steve Lucas and Virgil Ortiz, but we’ve also added two younger potters showing for the first time at Indian Market, Juan de la Cruz and Daniel Begay. So I think part of that whole idea is to feature a wide variety of work, all different styles and techniques, but also to showcase that Native art is alive…that it’s a live art and there are younger artists who I think need to be featured along with the big name artists. It becomes very exciting for us and for people to come in here and see all of that work.”

“‘Contemplation’ Koshare” by Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo) at King Galleries.

A selection of pieces by Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo) at King Galleries.











Finally, I caught the end of the evening’s gathering at Blue Rain Gallery‘s Native Art Group Exhibition featuring Jody Naranjo, Starr Hardridge, Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano, Yatika Fields, Dan Friday, Thomas Breeze Marcus, Chris Pappan, Maria Samora, Les Namingha, and Hyrum Joe (who earlier this afternoon did a live painting demonstration).

Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo) shows her pottery at Blue Rain Gallery.

“Killer Whale Totem (Dark Amber)” by Preston Singletary (Tlingit) and visitors to Blue Rain Gallery.











Every place I visited Thursday evening has more going on for the rest of the week. The choices are overwhelming. Something interesting is happening everywhere, all at once. Tomorrow will be another whirlwind tour, and I’ll do my best to bring you the highlights!



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