Friday, March 20, 2009

Museum Quality--Inside and Outside

We were fortunate to be in Phoenix at the time of the 51st Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market.Adding "Museum Quality Creations" after "Market" would more accuratey reflect the level of beauty and complexity reflected in the works of the artists represented.

This year the Guild brought together more than 650 outstanding American Indian artists from around the nation to show and sell their work.

Quick glances at each of the many booths as we passed by the artists, did not allow us the time to really study the works--photographs, paintings, woven products, metal works, jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, sculptures, musical instruments, and diverse art forms.

The photos here show only a sample of the variety of works, and the names of the artists are unknown because we did not collect their cards or make a note of their names as we moved among the many stunning works.

Since our ticket to the Fair also granted us admission to the Heard Museum, we made a brief side trip into the Museum and saw the piece called “Indigenous Evolution” near the entrance. It is a 30-foot long, 8-foot high glass and clay fence inspired by the organic fences made by Native people out of natural elements like adobe, ocotillo and saguaro.

Native peoples break off dead stems from the wild-growing ocotillo shrub to build fences and corals. The leafless and apparently lifeless stems root and miraculously bloom, seasonally blossoming into a living fence and providing yet another example of the rejuvenating nature of the desert. This striking work of art is a representation of an ocotillo fence fashioned out of glass and clay by native artists--ceramist Rosemary Lonewolf and glass-artist Tony Jojola.

The art fence honors nature’s gift, by visually and symbolically representing the light, and hues created by the sun’s daily journey. The two photos shown here represent afternoon (above) and late afternoon into evening (left).

Many of the pottery and basket pieces that we saw had four- and five-figure price tags on them--and they all appeared worth these prices. One particular basket that caught our attention was the one on the right. We believe this was made by Ronnie-Leigh Goeman from the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy located in the Upstate New York.

The Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market's status as one of the largest and most pretigious events in the United States was confirmed in our minds during this all-too-brief visit.

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