Navajo artist’s decoration spotlighted at the Heard
By Emily Zentner
Special to the Times
Phoenix’s Heard Museum started Black Friday with a small crowd waiting outside their museum store doors for the opening of their sixth annual Ornament Marketplace.
The shop features close to 1,000 ornaments from about 40 different Native American artists and has grown considerably since its start in 2010, according to Cathy Fetka, the museum store sales associate and buyer who runs the Marketplace each year.
“It’s funny because when we first started we kind of had to scramble for ornaments,” Fetka said. “It started out little, just pleading with these artists, and now they’re coming to me.”
While the Ornament Marketplace’s main push takes place from Nov. 25-27, the trees showcasing the ornaments for sale will be up in the museum store through the holiday season. The Marketplace is one of the busiest times for the store, but Fetka said the holidays in general are a popular time at the Heard.
“Holidays we always get a lot of people coming here to visit because it’s so unique,” Fetka said.
This year’s Marketplace centered on the 2016 limited edition ornament by Navajo artist Vernon Begaye, which sold out in less than an hour. This year is Begaye’s first time taking part in the Marketplace, though he has worked with the Heard in the past as a part of Moondance and other events.
The ornament, which can double as a pendant if hung on a chain or leather cord, features a sterling silver Navajo naja symbol set with turquoise and spiny oyster shell. The symbol, which Fetka said represents “arms around the family,” is a common theme in Native jewelry and art.