Sunday, August 31, 2008

SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market gets mixed reviews

This is a report by tribal arts observer, William Ernest Waites, publisher of Tribal Artery, on his impressions of SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market 2008
Many aspects of this year's Santa Fe Indian Market were improvements over previous years. Some seemed to be a step backward. And many were business as usual, stuck in a tradition that is due for some changes, in my opinion.

First, the improvements. The crowds seemed to be smaller, both at the Friday night preview and the market streets per se. Granted, this is not all good news. Smaller crowds mean lower demand and many artists were feeling the pressure of lower sales. Exacerbating this and may be even part of the cause were economic conditions that have a lot of people worried, whether for cause or psychologically. It doesn't matter for the artist. When the wallets don't open, the artists suffer.

At least one well-known artist, who usually sells out by 10:00 AM, had a booth full of pieces when we walked by shortly before noon on Saturday. Other artists commented that things were slower as evidenced by tables filled with unsold work.

Of course the standard answer when you ask an artist , “How's it going?' is, “It's great!” So take my observations and add those evaluations, then stir with a dash of skepticism and a spoonful of optimism.

At the preview, apparently, there was a change in policy. The number of press passes was reduced, meaning that many media people who might normally attend and report on the event were not present for the awards announcement. Many of the writers and photographers from the press had to compete with the special guests and VIPs that were admitted to the preview at the same time.

(Ironically, because it was difficult for the Executive director of SWAIA to contact the Best of Show winner, the announcement had to wait for the artist to appear anyway.)

What do I consider a step backward?

As a matter of admitted self-interest, as one who was unable to enter at the preview room before the crowd, I felt like I was being discriminated against. I'm sure there were others who shared that feeling.

I don't think it is advantageous for SWAIA, especially in a year when the economy seems to be working against maximum success, to limit exposure of the event and news about it. The media, all the media, should be encouraged so that the news gets out quickly to those who are interested but unable to attend in person.

Many of those people do not read the local newspapers or watch the local TV stations. They are spread around the world. SWAIA needs to recognize that the web and the internet are the way many of these people get their information about tribal art. Ignoring or discounting the web as a way of disseminating information misses the fastest way to make your story accessible to the public. It also misses the opportunity to archive information for consumers who aren't paying attention when the news hits.

As for being stuck in tradition, it is time, in my opinion, for SWAIA to recognize that there are significant differences between a 4-inch high fetish carving and a 4-foot high marble sculpture. To keep them in the same judging category is unfair or, at least, inappropriate,. It's not as if new categories could not be created. Thes new categories could increase the number of opportunities for artists who decline to enter in categories that they feel may be stacked against them. The same thing can be said about the differences between stone sculpture and glass blowing, between painting and photography, between bead work and quill work, and between textiles and basketry.

I am particularly concerned about the discrepancy between fetish carving and sculpture. There is no rational reason for keeping both kinds of work in the same category when two categories could be created. The only possible rationale, to my view, would be that it makes it easier for SWAIA to organize . I have found when organizations focus on what is easier forthem rather than what is best for their clientele, they are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

I'm told there are other interested parties with affinity for the little fetish gems, who share my concern. We should get together and give SWAIA the benefit of our thinking. Perhaps this blog can be a start. If you agree with this point of view, please give this blog a comment.

About the winners themselves. Of course, judging is subjective. I felt, however, that many of the lesser ribbons, the second-place and third-place winners, were more deserving than some of the entries that won first place.

Oh well! That's what makes horse races, and art competitions.

I'm including photographs of the Best of Show and Best of Classification, as best I was able to photograph them under the preview conditions.

Best of Show and
Best of Classification III. Painting - Sheldon Harvey

Best of Classification I. Jewelry - Rebecca Begay

Best of Classification II. Pottery - Linda Tafoya-Sanchez

Best of Classification IV. Wooden Pueblo Carving - Robert Albert

Best of Classification V. Sculpture - Sheldon Harvey

Best of Classification VI. Textiles & Basketry - Mona Laughing

Best of Classification VII. Diverse Arts - Jamie Okuma

Best of Classification VIII. Quillwork & Beadwork - Juanita & Jessica Growing Thunder

Best of Classification IX. Youth - Trent Lee

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tribal art - Tracking down Ira Lujan, Taos glass sculptor

We had been tracking down Ira Lujan, a Taos Pueblo artist who has broken new art ground by working with traditional Native American themes in glass.

We found him at Santa Fe Indian Market this past weekend and purchased some art objects from him. As we talked, he mentioned that his studio is located at Jackalope on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, which also happens to be an expansive marketer of ethnographic material, principally from Mexico but including many other exotic countries .

We filed away that information in the memory file, where it promptly was lost. Then we visited Jackalope as one stop on a quest for a special gift for a friend. As we walked through the grounds, we spotted the sign for Prairie Dog Glass studio. We looked inside. There was Ira, working on a glass creation.

It turns out that Ira has use of the studio in trade for blowing glass items of a more commercial nature for Jackalope to sell. Among the items that are popular are hummingbird feeders, decorative glass balls (doubling as ornaments), flower-esque rain catchers, glass bulb drip irrigators, glass vases and other decorative accessories.

The real treat, however, is that you can actually watch Ira and his colleagues, including Okey Owinge artist, Robert "Spooner" Marcus, at work.

Ira explained that the basic furnace is fired at high enough temperatures to make glass material molten and hold it in that state. It burns 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, since it is more costly to stop and restart the furnace than to sustain the heat needed to work the glass.

There also is flash furnace used to reheat the glass objects as they are being worked. Various tools, such as tongs and torches, also are used.

The process starts by inserting a long metal tube into the glass furnace and allowing a glob of molten glass to collect on the end of it. This clear glass is withdrawn from oven and rolled on a metal slab, on which grains of colored glass have been spread. The molten glass picks up the colored grains and the color begins ot suffuse the mass of hot glass.

The glass glob now is rolled, swung and blown by mouth to shape it. One of the fascinating aspects of this process is the smoothing of the glass item, which is done with a water-saturated thickness of folded newspaper. You read it right. Newspaper is used to rub and form glass that is hot enough to burn through it if it was not thick and wet.

Another key step in the process is periodically returning the object to heat, this time in a flash furnace, to maintain its malleability. Curves, twists, bends and trim are created by alternately heating the areas to be formed with a torch and pulling the molten glass in the form and shape desired.

Finally, the items are "cured" in a kiln so that they will be less fragile in final form.

You get to sit and watch the entire process, as I did recently. I had asked Ira to interrupt his commercial production to take time to create a glass corn maiden. It was in process as we returned to the studio to watch it taking shape. Ira was working with Spooner. Together they were making an object of great beauty. (Ira refers to the process as glass sculpting instead of glass blowing.) Such teamwork is required when working with molten glass, that can take on a behavior of its own if not attended to at all times.

The body had taken shape. The head, which had been created earlier, was now added to the body, by melting the collar at the neck, and attaching the pre-formed head. The point of joining must be repeatedly reheated to make sure it fuses together.

It was close to the final step as the bottom of the body was being
torched to be removed from the tube.


The entire piece exploded. After all that work.

"I've have never had that happen!" exclaimed Ira. "I've lost pieces but
never had one explode like that."

Spooner joined in, philosophically, saying, "That's glass."

Both workers had been hit on the chest by small shards of glass.

"That's why we wear safety glasses", added Ira.

So, we agreed it was necessary to start over again. It will e a few
more days. But Ira and Spooner assured me that it will be done.

When completed, it will join the other Ira Lujan works of glass art that we have acquired. Look for it on future issues of theis blog and on our website at .

Monday, August 25, 2008

The connection between culture and art

I'm interrupting coverage of Indian Market, which will continue shortly, with some thoughts inspired by an essay I just read from another site called Aboriginal Art Directory.

You can access it directly through this link.

That said, it does have some relevance to Indian Market.

The essay discusses the connection between native or tribal art and the world outside it. While specifically applicable to Australia, where the separations between aboriginal communities and urban centers are even more extreme than they are (for the most part) in the United States, the observations have some resonance with all tribally created art and the people who appreciate and acquire it.

Years ago, we used to make buying trips to the Southwest during which we traveled to the artists' peublos and homes, where we would sit and chat and admire the work in its natural environment. We still do that with Zuni artists. It is a rich and rewarding part of acquiring art, in addition to the art itself.

For the last three years, we have been coming to Indian Market. Here, all the artists come to one place and set up in their booth/tents to sell to the world of the Native American art collector. As Santa Fe is an urban center, even though many artists live in and around Santa Fe and Albuquerque when they are not home on the pueblo or reservation, Indian Market is the equivalent of bringing the artists to us instead of going to them.

I don't want to diminish the importance or excitement of Indian market, or of its significance in facilitating economic support for the artists. All that is true.

But post-market today, I was feeling a little melancholy.
It seemed something had been missing. The activity had not been as intense or personal as when we sat in an artist's living room and became part of his or her life in addition to buying his or her art.

After reading the essay linked to here, I began to appreciate what was happening to us and, I presume, the artists. It is something different to stand and talk with an artist while a dozen others stand by and watch, listen or compete for attention. It is the same art. But it s not the same relationship.

We have often believed that people who acquire tribal art do so for more than the aesthetic appeal of the art. They are buying the story behind it, the traditions embedded in it and the personality of the artist who created it.

I think this is some of what the essay is talking about.

So, next year, we may resort to the old ways. If we come to Indian Market at all, it will be as tourists. But our acquisition of art will be one-on-one in the artists homes or on their pueblos. We will be on their turf, not ours. We will be acquiring more than the art.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Indain Market winners announced

The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) announced the Best of Classification and Best of Show Awards winners in the 2008 competition. In addition to these awards we also have special awards categories listed below including the new "Innovation" award.

Best of show: Sheldon Harvey - for a painting
Best of Classification
I. Jewelry: Rebecca Begay - for a sterling silver tufa cast seed jar
II. Pottery: Linda Tafoya-Sanchez - for a blackware, incised pot
III. Painting: Sheldon Harvey - for a painting
IV. Wooden Pueblo Carving: Robert Albert - for a intricate wood carving
V. Sculpture: Sheldon Harvey - for a tradition-breaking carving
VI. Textiles & Basketry: Mona Laughing
VII. Diverse Arts: Jamie Okuma
VIII. Quillwork & Beadwork: Juanita Growing Thunder
IX. Youth: Trent Lee

2008 Special Awards
Adult Smile Award: Ryan Singer
Youth Smile Award: Tulane John
Eric & Barbara Dobkin Award for Innovation: Marla Allison
Institute of American Indian Arts: Peterson Yazzie
Sidney & Ruth Schultz Award for Miniatures: Rebecca Begay
Andrew Smith/Andrew Smith Gallery Award for Photography: none
Jean Seth Award for Traditional Basketry: Griselda Saufkie
(also 2008 lifetime achievement award recipient)
Jean Seth Award for Traditional Painting: John I. King
Indan Arts Fund, Excellence in Traditional Arts: Joseph Lugo Youngblood

I attended the awards announcement and have some additional thoughts on this year's competition, photos of award-winning entries and some other notable awards. Come back tomorrow for more on SWAIA's Santa Fe Indian Market awards.

A day on Santa Fe's Museum Hill

Today was Museum Hill day.

Our first stop there, where several of Santa Fe's museums are located, was a return visit to the Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright. Several artists were there with their work. It was good to renew acquaintance with Samuel Manymules, Fabian Tsethlikai, Michael Kanteena, Alicia Nelson and Elizabeth Manygoats. A new acquaintance was Mangas Slinkey, a Navajo/Lakota jeweler. We were impressed by the innovation in his work and will look forward to representing him in the future.

From the Case, we shuttled to the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. A state museum with extensive and varied exhibitions. In the order we visited, Here, Now & Always was our first stop.

This sensitive exhibit traces the origins and development of native peoples in the Southwest. To quote, “Three simple words—Here, Now and Always—tell the story of the Southwest’s oldest communities. From elder to younger, each generation has taught the next: We are here, now and we will be here always.”

Coming up from the Earth and into the exhibition hall, the visitor traces, step-by-step, the path of the Southwest’s people. The exhibits carry you to the story of each Native community. This permanent exhibit includes more than 1,300 artifacts from the Museum's collections.

As we journeyed through the communities, we were deeply moved by the struggles, the ingenuities and survival strategies of our nation's first people.

Our next stop was the Buchsbaum Gallery of Southwestern Pottery. Focusing exclusively on the pottery and potters of Southwestern Pueblos and tribes, it is a crash course in the finest examples of this 2000 year old tradition.

The process of pottery making is the ultimate combination of the material and the spiritual. The clay comes from the earth, the same earth that nurtures with food. Extraordinary work goes into gathering, drying, grounding, sifting, straining, removing water and tempering. Then the pot is carefully coiled and built by hand, then scraped, slipped and polished. Finally, comes the test by fire. Firing the pot puts the work to that point at maximum risk. Many pots are lost in the firing.

When a pot was completed, it was used to store, carry and prepare the sustenance of life.

Pottery, which now often is created for sale to collectors, retains this spiritual quality, which the Buchsbaum exhibit dramatizes so effectively.

The next stop was in a temporary exhibit on the light side. Comic Art Indigene presents the relationship between comic art and the expression of native sentiments and sensibilities. We recognized many of the comic book and comic strip characters from our youth. The exhibit also points out that comics, with their very graphic character were a natural medium for a peoples who were not literate in the dominant language. One nice touch about the Comic Art Indigene is the invitation for visitors to create their own comic art using comic strip and skate board templates.

Speaking of visitor involvement, an entire room is devoted to the tools and toys for children to share the experience of native art and culture.

The next stop on the way through was the Spider Woman's Gift, featuring an extraordinary display of more than 40 exquisite Navajo weavings dating from between 1860 and 1880. Spider Woman was said to give Navajos the gift of weaving, and instructing Spider Man to build the first loom. With wooden vertical and horizontal beams it was said to represent the relationship between the earth and sky.

Admittance to the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture requires membership in the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

After our immersion in Native American art and culture, we stopped at the Museum Hill Cafe for early dinner. With the kitchen closing at 3 PM, we probably were the last order in. We always enjoy the Cafe. The seats are outside under a ramada type roof and fabric umbrellas. It is pleasant just to sit and watch the sky change while enjoying a cool beverage. You order at a counter and your choices are delivered to your table. A 10% surcharge is added for service (less by half than we usually tip). Our orders of quesadilla and quiche were generous and well prepared.

After supper we headed back to the Wheelwright for their silent auction. We don't normally bid. Actually, we don't normally win bids. I have a habit of finding items I like and placing early low bids. The strategy is that I might luck out and at least I am established as a bidder and, if I don't win the bid, I keep it going up for the auction sponsors. Well, we got lucky on four out of six bids and ended up taking those objects at the opening low bid.

So, all in all, it was a very good day.

African Tribal Art Auction Alert - Munich, Germany

Our African collectors should know that an auction of African Tribal Art from two collections has been scheduled for September 2, 2008 in Munich, Germany.

The catalog is now online at

(If the above link does not work, cut and paste the link information into your browser.)

The price estimates, quoted in euros, seem reasonable, although current economic conditions in Europe may make it difficult for these estimates to be realized, giving bidders some breaks on cost - eve with a 19.5% buyers' premium.

Be sure to click the English language flags to see the catalog in English, if that is your language of choice.

While we have done a brief survey of the items, this alert is in no way an endorsement as to quality, authenticity or value. As with all auctions, it is caveat emptor and you are on your own.


Brought to you by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, trading in African Tribal Art at

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fritz Scolder Retrospective at IAIA

Based on last evening's opening at the Institute for American Indian Art, a show featuring the works of Native American artist, Fritz Scholder, will please art lovers of all persuasions.

It was a pleasant evening in the gallery at IAIA. Cool temperatures encouraged attendees to mingle in the inviting IAIA courtyard. Jeans and polo shirts mixed with formal-skirted women and escorts in jackets-and-ties. A table of canapes satisfied any peckishness that guests brought to the event.

But the real satisfaction came from an extensive array of Scholder's lithographs, etchings and paintings, reflecting his unique view of the relationship between contemporary America and its indigenous people. According to his biography, Scholder was not raised as an Indian. He was born in Minnesota in 1937, attended high school in Pierre, South Dakota and graduated from Ashland High School in Wisconsin. Scholder's Indian heritage was one-quarter Luiseno, a Calfornia Mission tribe.

After moving to California with his family in 1957, he began an artistic journey that included numerous shows, five honorary degrees, and participation jn exhibitions around the world. Along the way, after receiving a Masters in Fine Art in 1964, he joined IAIA as Instructor in Advanced Art and Painting, where his tutelage encouraged scores of beginning Native Artists to develop their talents. He left IAIA in 1969.

But the IAIA never left him. This connection was the motivator for IAIA to mount this extraordinary retrospective of Scholder's work. Scholder passed in 2005. His artistic legacy, focusing on the national cliché' about American Indians and the guilt of the dominant culture in reference to its relationship with the land's original owners, lives on with freshness and vitality.

If you have a chance to visit the Fritz Scholder show, which runs through February 19, 2009, you will find it a stimulating view of Native American sensibilities. By the way, be sure to spend some time in the IAIA's gift shop. It is in its own right an expressive survey of the fine works of many very accomplished Native American artists.


Brought to you by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person and its allied online galleries at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink and Zunilink.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Telstra Aboriginal Art Entries and Winners - Tribal Art at Tribal Artery

Following on from an earlier article announcing Telstra winners for 2008, here is an address to access the full range of entries. Links within this home page will take you to all entries in all categories. A slide show also is available.

Brought to you by William and Susanne Waites, whose website at offers examples of Australian Aboriginal art from their collection.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Whitehawk Antique Shows show off exceptional tribal art

I joined hundreds of other appreciators of ethnographic art weaving through the concourses of the Whitehawk 25th Annual Antique Ethnographic Art Show at Santa Fe's El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe on Saturday, August 16. It was a very impressive show with 108 booths filled with antiquities from some of the most respected dealers in the field. There was so much extraordinary art presented that I had an unusual reaction.

It was exacerbated by the Tribal Art Show that took place the same day at Santa Fe's DeVargas Mall. This was a smaller show but, according to others who visited both shows, of better average quality. I don't agree but, being more compressed it might appear to be a more concetrated look at fine tribal art.

It was interesting to see some exceptional Australian Aboriginal dot paintings, very professionally presented by a gallery from La Jolla, California. There also was a mix of vintage Aboriginal artifacts. Does this signal a more important role for Australian Aboriginal art in the Western Hemisphere? It would be nice.

The reaction was that there is a great deal more excellent ethnographic (tribal) art at large in the world than the description “rare” would suggest. Certainly more than I imagined.

A similar reaction was that the prices tended to be much higher than what we are charging for equivalent or nearly equivalent material.

While it is too late to see this year's Whitehawk Ethnographic Show, which closed on Sunday, a second Whitehawk show, the 30th Annual Invitational Antique Indian Art Show, has opened and runs through Wednesday, August 20.

I will write about that show tomorrow.

Based on the two Ethnographic and Tribal Art Shows I witnessed this weekend, however, I would recommend attendance at the upcoming show as a very educational opportunity. Admission is $10 per person.

A Conversation with Gibbs Othole, Zuni carver

On our recent visit to Zuni Pueblo, we carried with us a specimen of sugilite that a customer gave us to have carved. Dee Edaakie had agreed to take on the task and we delivered the stone to him. We also picked up some recently carved pieces from Dee.

Dee lives close by Gibbs and we wondered if Gibbs was home. Looking out the window, Dee said, “There's his truck. Let's go see.”

So it was that we managed to sit for a while with Gibbs Othole. He had work in progress for Indian Market but nothing at the stage where he would show it to us.

We chatted. I was curious about how Gibbs got started as a carver. He said he started as a painter, moved on to wood carvings, then jewelry and ultimately to the stone carvings we call fetishes. (They are not actually fetishes until they have been blessed by Zuni priest.)

Gibbs said that he learned to carve from Joey Quam, and Calvin and Claudia Peina.

He said he still does some jewelry work but not so much because the cost of silver is too expensive and unpredictable. It also takes longer to create a piece of jewelry and his time already is filled with responsibilities for carving creatures, family demands, sheep-herding and pueblo responsibilities.

Gibbs described his process for arriving at a final carving. He starts with a vision of what he plans to carve, based on what he sees in the stone specimen to be carved. As he works, other ideas may appear to him, changing the form that the carving will take. He ascribes it to the stone taking over and dictating the result. We likened it to the process of writing a story, in which the characters take on lives of their own and determine the storyline.

Gibbs also mentioned that he salvaged the blower from a piece of industrial equipment and installed it in his carving studio in order to exhaust the dust from carving. According to Gibbs, most stone dust has some level of toxicity. Pyrite is the worst. So he not only wears a mask when grinding and carving but also tents the works and exhausts the dust to the outside.

We asked Gibbs why some Zuni artists we purchase carvings from hold the money to their mouths and breathe on it. We were told this is a way of blessing the transaction.

We discussed the awards at the Gallup Indian Inter-tribal Ceremonial competition. Gibbs didn't enter this year and seldom does, saving his efforts for Indian Market and shows such as the Heard Museum show that takes place in Phoenix after the first of the year.

We mentioned that Jeff Tsalabutie, who is a good friend of Gibbs, entered and won Best of Category in last years Inter-Tribal. Gibbs then told us of seeing Jeff after the Inter-Tribal, shaking his hand and then placing his (Gibbs') hand to his mouth to share the blessing. Gibbs then won big at Indian Market last year, which Gibbs attributed with a laugh to the shared blessing. He then said he shook hands with Jeff again, and Jeff repeated the blessing sharing and won again in another competition.

Later, we saw Jeff and mentioned the shared blessing story to him. Jeff joked, “Shared it? He stole it! I just took it back.”

Gibbs and Jeff and Dee are three of the nicest, most talented, most accommodating people one will ever meet.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A visit to the Wheelwright Museum's Native American curio trade show

A major exhibition has opened at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Entitled, "From the Railroad to Route 66: The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico," it traces Native American art and craft from the mid-19th Century to today. The exhibition coincides with the release of Jonathan Batkin's new book of a similar name, The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico. The book and the exhibition follow 20 years of research by Batkin, the current Director of the Wheelwright.

The visitor's tour through the time tunnel of Native American curio and craft work starts with the first dealer to open a store in Santa Fe, Aaron Gold and his son, Jake. The owners worked with Native artisans to create crafts that could be sold to visitors and to the world at large.

At the time, the interest in things Indian was explosive. Items were created by the thousands at the direction of trading posts and dealers. Actual Native significance was less important than attractiveness to tourists.

Others entered the field. Jake Gold joined up with J. S. Candelario, a first rate promoter on his own, who extended the reach of the curio trade to eastern cities.

Shortly after the start of the 20th Century, Maurice Maisel opened his store in downtown Albuquerque. Maisel set up his shop so that customers could lookdown from the sales floor to a table below with Native silversmiths at work.

(J. L. Hubbell, the Indian trader at Ganado, had witnessed increases in interest and sales when potential buyers could watch Native silversmiths as they created their exotic jewelry.)

In Maisel's shop, each artisan had a workbench and would hand assemble the silver items being created. Hidden away and unseen by customers, were punch presses and mills that were used to stamp out the silver forms that the artisans assembled. This was the first appearance of mechanized manufacturing in a field that was appreciated in large measure because the jewelry was believed to be hand-made.

For several years, this manufacturing approach stirred a lot of controversy, which gave birth to the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act that required accurate labeling and truthful representation of Native American art.

Even today, disputes arise about what constitutes jewelry hand-made by Indians and what is made in an assembly line and presented as hand-made.

The Wheelwright Museum exhibition is a spoon-fed version of the material covered in the 317-page book by the same name, including several actual examples of the items offered and the advertising and catalogs that promoted them.

If you are in Santa Fe while the show continues, through April 19, 2009, I recommend you take the hour or so it requires to absorb the full story of the Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico. Admission to the Wheelwright is free, although donations are encouraged. If you can't get to the museum, I recommend you get a hold of the book.

More on the Telstra Flap - Tribal Artery

The Australian, Australia's national newspaper reports in more detail concerning the controversy affecting the 2008 Telstra Awards and the entire Australian Aboriginal art contretemps.

Read all about it here:,,24195875-16947,00.html

Brought to you by William Ernest Waites, co-owner of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person and its Australian Aboriginal art selection at .

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2008 Telstra Awards for Aboriginal Art Announced

Awards for the 25th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) were announced on Aug 15, 2008.

Despite controversy surrounding the participation of some community art centres that declined to compete because of the involvement of certain commercial galleries, the competition proceeded without apparent complication.

The winners:

Major award
- Makinti Napanangka from Kintore for her painting depicting designs associated with the rock hole site of Lupulnga. The Dreaming associated with the site is of a small bird known as the Peewee and Two Women Dreaming.

The Telstra General Painting Award
(A$4,000) was given to Doreen Reid Nakamarra. Her winning work of designs associated Marrapinti rock hole site in Western Australia.

The Telstra Bark Painting Award
(A$4,000) was presented to Terry Ngamandara Wilson of Gochan Jiny-jirra, Northern Territory. Terry's work is a design for spike rush (Gulach) that is found in profusion in the swamps of Barlparnarra.

The Telstra Works on Paper Award
(A$4,000) was awarded to Dennis Nona from Badu Island, Torres Strait in Queensland for his etching, Dugam. It is named for the harvest star that appears in the early morning sky during August.

The Wandjuk Marika Three-Dimensional Memorial Award
(A$4,000), sponsored by Telstra, went to Nyapantapa Yunupingu, a Yolngu artist from Yirrkala, for her installation entitled incidence at Mutpi.


Reported by William Ernest Waites, proprietor of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person Gallery at

Friday, August 15, 2008

Artists Approved for SWAIA Indian Market - Tribal Artery

Southwestern Association for Indian Art has listed the artists that have been approved to compete in and display at the 87th Annual Indian Market.

To see if your favorite artist has been approved, visit

Indian Market, one of the most important shows and competitions in tribal art starts Friday, Aug 22, 2008 with an evening sneak preview and announcement of the winning entries, at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe.

Public exhibits open on the streets of Santa Fe, Saturday, Aug. 23 at 7 AM, until 5 PM, and concludes on Sunday, Aug. 24 from 8 AM to 5 PM.

William and Susanne Waites, proprietors of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person and its allied web sites at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink, ZuniLink and TribalWorks, are reporting from Indian Market, 2008.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“Sasquatch?” at Cochiti Pueblo

While visiting with Wilson Romero on Cochiti Pueblo, he mentioned that some of his fellow puebloans were visiting some Sioux Indians in the Dakotas. They claimed to have seen a Bigfoot creature near a lake in the nearby hills. They reported that they had seen the creature stop at the lake and scoop up some water to sip. They went on to say that they do not allow anyone to enter that area. They feel the creature is not hurting anyone and there is no reason to intrude on his privacy.

Regular readers of Tribal Artery will remember that Wilson is one of the Romero brothers who carve animals in a certain natural style. They carve creatures from large stones and rocks found on the Cochiti Pueblo grounds.

That is one of the things that brings us to Cochiti each year. We were here to purchase some of his most recent carvings. We will be posting them to the blog and the website. In the meantime, you can see some of Wilson's vintage carvings at

As we were wrapping up our purchases from among his most recent works, he added a carving that looked like a large foot print. It was carved from locally collected basalt.

Here is a photograph of it. (No. It is not a casting of an actual footprint.)He insisted that we have it, as his gift.

We had a good laugh about his attempt to reflect the lore with a Bigfoot carving. We accepted his gift with appreciation. It will have a special place in our personal collection.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New from Delbert ChargingCrow

One of our first objectives in New Mexico was to locate the work of Delbert Charging Crow. Delbert was visiting family in North Dakota, so we were directed to a third party that had saved some carvings that we could buy.

We will present them here without further description. If you see something you are interested in, call us at 800-305-0185 and we can give you more information and arrange a purchase.

Or check our website at ZuniLink for more Delbert ChargingCrow carvings.


























Intertribal Ceremonial Parade - 2008

Greetings from New Mexico.

Saturday, August 9, was the parade for the 87th Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial in downtown Gallup, New Mexico. I was there with my trusty digital camera as part of our annual visit to New Mexico. We come here to find new examples of Native American art for our websites at, and

Here are scenes from the parade:

Native Americans are fiercely patriotic and active participants in US Armed Forces. They are represented here by a color guard. And, of course, every parade has its Queens, Princesses and Miss's. The beautiful young lady shown below is slated for greatness. When she saw my camera in the crowd, she stopped to make sure I got a good shotNavajo people and all Native Americans are justly proud of the Navajo Code Talkers and their contribution to Allied Victory in the World War II.
The Navajo Nation Band makes an appearance.

A parade in Gallup and especially among Native Americans is very much of a "family affair". This young princess leaves the procession to greet members of the crowd. One of the things that strikes me, as an observer of Indian culture, is how extensively they relate to to each other as "family." It is value system we all could emulate. Many Native dance groups were included.

Deer dancers.
This group of Navajos presented a precision drill with Navajo blankets, moving them from folded over the shoulder to opened in front as they interwove with each other on the march.
The Zuni Pueblo band also marched and played.

Princesses come in all sizes.

Zuni deer dancers performed.

Wisely, the horses were left for last, bringing up the rear, so to speak.
We hope you enjoyed the parade. We loved it.