Diné garner ribbons at 2012 Heard show

By Ernie Bulow
Special to the Times

PHOENIX, March 8, 2012

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(Courtesy photo )

TOP: Vernon Haskie poses with his coral jewelry at the Heard Indian Fair and Market.

SECOND FROM TOP: Vernon Begaye with his three bear container at the Heard Indian Fair and Market.

THIRD FROM TOP: TahNibaa Naataani is always a winner with her innovative work.

FOURTH FROM TOP: Fidel Bahe with a hand-hammered ingot buckle at the Heard Indian Fair and Market.

BOTTOM: First place winner Pauline Tsosie at the Heard Indian Fair and Market.

P hoenix has always been good to Diné artists and this year the 54th Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market was no exception.

Even the weather was kindly as a record crowd stormed the Heard Museum grounds on March 3 and 4. Most of the artists were happy with sales as dealers and collectors shouldered through the crowd.

Show veteran Stetson Honyemptea took best in show with a magnificently detailed white ogre holding a frightened boy brandishing a cell phone.

"Techno Kid on the Run" illustrates a universal problem for the Native tribes of America - technology's inevitable clash with tradition. Keep in mind that all those cell phones have cameras in them - and photographing religious activities is the ultimate insult to the ancient ways.

Jewelry categories were dominated by Diné artists as Samuel La Fountain, Dine/Chippewa, took best in classification with his black jade necklace.

In the necklace/bolo group first went to Chris Pruett, Laguna, who has been a rising star recently. Vernon Haskie took second place with his coral piece, "A Weave Between the Flowers."

The belt category was swept by Diné: Daniel Sunshine Reeves, first; Vernon Haskie, second; and Philander Begay, third. Haskie's belt also took a judge's award.

Vernon Begay won attention with a fancy box that combined inlay, casting and fabrication. "Three Bear Container" sported two inlaid bears on the cover and another in the bottom of the round jar. It was a striking piece of work.

The ribbons for matching sets went to two Zunis for inlay work. Half Navajo Myron Panteah took the blue, and Ola Mae Eriacho (of the famous Dewa family of jewelers) took the red.

Though slighted by the judges, Fidel Bahe, who makes his home in Winslow, had some of the most beautiful work at the show. Perhaps it was too retro for this year's judges.

Bahe had belts, buckles and bracelets hammered from solid ingots of silver like the early days of smithing.

The massive silver pieces were perfectly stamped and burnished and the effect was like a time machine - Navajo jewelry as it was in the golden age of silverwork. Single, high quality stones adorned some of the pieces.

Pottery was dominated as usual by the various pueblos, but Samuel Manymules, a 20-year veteran of competition, took first in the unpainted category with his classic water jar. The same piece took a prestigious judge's award from Martha Streuver, a Santa Fe dealer.

First in fetishes went to Raymond Tsalate, Zuni. He took another first in the "culturally based" category for an elaborate double piece in antler that incorporated the Kolowisi water serpent.

Second place in fetishes went to Troy Sice, Zuni. Both of them are regular winners in the category.

Charlene Evelyn Holy Bear, Standing Rock Sioux, took blue for a pair of dolls called "A Sioux Man and His Ride." The perfectly dressed man and horse had a particular sense of humor about them.

First in the painting category went to Hyrum Joe for "Frybread Sweethearts" and Shonto Begay was second for a gloriously colorful "Golden Eve."

Both painters draw heavily on their traditional homeland and culture which makes them favorites with the crowd.

The weaving category seems to belong to the Diné. In the regional style category the blue ribbon went to Florence Manygoats for a rug she called "Blue Canyon."

In the non-regional or contemporary category the first prize went to Pauline Tsosie for a weaving she called "Paradigm Shift."

Another Diné, Susan Hudson, drew attention with her prize-winning "Ledger Quilt" which she originated along with what she calls the "Two Grey Hills" quilt. Catch her at the Mark Bahti Show March 17 and 18 and the Tubac Show March 24 and 25.

Navajo weaver TahNiibaa Naataanii has won many awards over the years but she had something new for her fans this year. She has been experimenting with a fairly new technique from Australia called nuno felting.

A piece of cloth like raw silk is laid down and bunches of wool laid on top. Using soap and warm water the wool sticks to the base fabric, creating a felt patch. Naataanii then embellishes the patch further and the resulting object makes a very attractive and fetching scarf.

Many prize-winning Diné artists from recent shows were in attendance and as usual, the artists credited the Heard for hosting the friendliest, most comfortable show in the country.