Crowds enjoy visual feast of Native arts at SW Indian Art Show

Upton Ethelbah's piece entitled "Apache Mountain Spirit," which was featured at the Southwest Indian Art Fair (Photo by RC Alexander/Observer).

Upton Ethelbah's piece entitled "Apache Mountain Spirit," which was featured at the Southwest Indian Art Fair (Photo by RC Alexander/Observer).

TUCSON-Approximately 200 of the Southwest's best Native artists converged on the campus of the University of Arizona State Museum grounds Feb. 24-25. A plethora of pottery, baskets, paintings, jewelry, sculptures, katsinas, weavings and Native clothing gave the weekend crowd of visitors to the juried event much to spend their dollars on.

Blue ribbons awarded to a number of artists flashed their bright blue hue in the sunlight and excited local attendees, snowbirds and students of Native culture and arts. Traditional Navajo and Hopi songs sung by Eli Secody and Clark Tenakhongva, and other dance and musical groups entertained the crowds as they enjoyed a luncheon of Navajo fry bread and posole.

Demonstrations in drum making, sand painting, basket making, flute making and Navajo weaving did much to inform and interest the crowd. "I come every year to this," exclaimed one woman, "I've learned so much every time I come and I save up my spending money to get something collectible."

Featured artist/sculptor, Upton Ethelbah Jr. (aka Greyshoes) had a booth with a wonderful selection of new pieces. His booth-front and center at the Art Fair-was continuously packed with admiring patrons eager to hear about his artistic processes. "I started with a 20-pound gift of red and green alabaster from a friend," explained Greyshoes, "and formed it into a drum perched on the steps of a kiva."

L. Bruce Hodgins, Navajo silversmith and delivery person of the Navajo Hopi Observer to western Navajo communities, won the Waddell Purchase Award for a silver drusi pendant with handmade chain. "Second year in a row," he mentioned. "It is always great to be in Tucson."

Hodgins' pendant will join last years' bola tie in the permanent collection of the Arizona State Museum.

Alberta Selina, Hopi basketmaker, won the Arizona State Museum Staff Purchase Award for her miniature Butterfly Coil Basket. Attending the event with her husband, Weaver Selina, a well-known Hopi silversmith, Alberta exclaimed, "I'm down to only one basket left, business has been good today."

Arizona State Museum's Southwest Indian Art Fair promotes greater public appreciation and understanding of American Indian artistry. They encourage achievements in a variety of media and are committed to building a stronger market for Native art.

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