Santa Fe, N.M. ----Jacob Koopee Jr. was the name on every major Indian art collector's lips this year at Santa Fe's world renowned 2005 Indian Market.
Koopee took the Best of Show Award, which in itself cashes out at $1,000 along with the full year's recognition and Indian art world bragging rights, duplicate winning ribbons, a new group of high end art clientele who collect Indian pottery. The final price of the winning pot was $20,000 and sold to New York collectors. Even more astonishing, was that this was Koopee's first time at Indian Market.
Koopee sold out on Saturday morning's Indian Market at approximately 7:01 a.m., just one minute after market officially opened to early buyers who had been "casing" his booth since around 5:30 that morning, hoping to buy the winning pot along with his other pottery submittals, which now all had a higher increased value since his Friday, Aug. 19, Best of Show win.
Considering that there were 39 art judges for this year's Indian Art market, Koopee, Hopi from First Mesa-Walpi Village, had stiff competition from some of the best potters in the world in New Mexico pueblo country as well as his own potters from Hopi.
Fellow Hopi potter, Karen Abeita took the prestigious Helen Naha Memorial Award alongside Koopee this year, and they were joined by several other Hopi tribal members in receiving top honors for varied art work submissions deemed excellent in their specified fields.
SWAIA (Southwest Association for Indian Art) has been in operation since 1922 and is touted as the most prestigious and highly competitive Indian art market in the world. To be a prize winner at this particular market is an extremely distinguished honor because it ensures instant name recognition for the artist and the work that they produce.
SWAIA gave out 325 awards this year in 243 categories including an new award from the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Contemporary Art.
This special IAIA award was also won by a Hopi.
Kykotsmovi's own Aaron Fredericks took the Best of Division for Contemporary Pueblo Carvings for his "Tsuku" brothers carving as well as the IAIA award.
Clark Tenakhongva of Hotevilla, took Best of Division for his Lizard Tihu, in the Traditional Pueblo Carving category. Mungapi's Loren Phillips took Best of Division for Contemporary Pueblo Carvings. Cheston Dalangyawma of Hotevilla took second place for Youth Category.
In addition to these awards which are the most coveted at SWAIA, three Hopis won SWAIA Art Fellowships and were honored at Thursday evening's invitation only, New Mexico Governor's Lifetime Achievement and Fellowship Honoring Reception held at Governor Bill Richardson's mansion in Santa Fe.
Gerald Lomaventema (Hopi) and Armand Fritz (Hopi), Cody Sanderson (Hopi-Navajo), each received monetary fellowship sponsorship and a free booth this year in support of their work exhibited at Indian Market.
Lomaventema creates sterling silver jewelry with 14K gold accents and utilizes processes he learned from fellow Hopi silversmiths. He uses handmade carving tools to create bolos and belts with Hopi Katsina figures inlaid with wood, coral, shell.
Sanderson is a also a jeweler who uses sterling silver combined often with 14K gold, but also likes to mix aluminum, copper, and stainless steel in his contemporary designs.
Fritz, specializes in one-piece, highly detailed Hopi katsina doll carvings. His final products are painted with oil paints.
Each will use their SWAIA $3,000 fellowship to purchase new art equipment or improve their work studio spaces.