Indian Market launches centennial celebration
With a toast to its 100th birthday, Indian Market kicked off its 2022 centennial celebration with a reception at the Bishop’s Lodge last Friday and an art opening at the resort’s Horseshoe Gallery.
It was the first Southwestern Association for Indian Arts event of the season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and about 200 Indian Market devotees, including notable Natives like actor Wes Studi, film director Chris Eyre, and fashion designer Patricia Michaels, reunited after a long hiatus from in-person social events.
“There’s always excitement when you see other creative people,” said Michaels. “Just to know we’re still doing what we do and we’re healthy and happy – it felt fabulous.”
Michaels, who will once again be a part of the SWAIA Indian Market Haute Couture fashion show, said she’s hopeful that this year’s market will be a great one.
“I look forward to it since I was born – it’s in the DNA!” she chuckled.
SWAIA Indian Market Director Kim Peone said the organization is improving its financial position despite a couple of turbulent years through the COVID-19 pandemic. All the marquee events for the 2022 market have already been funded.
The big news this year is that the market will again be free, and the number of booths will return to pre-pandemic levels “and then some,” she said, as they are looking for opportunities to bring even more artists on.
“We’re trying to bring back market as it was in the past with some unique tweaks,” she said.
SWAIA will be growing the Indian Market footprint by adding a satellite market at the Santa Fe Railyard and adding booths on Federal Street, she said.
“We’re expanding,” Peone said. “I just think there are so many opportunities to make this fun and exciting.”
‘Accept every gift’
The goal of the first of several SWAIA/Bishop’s Lodge collaborative exhibits at the Horseshoe Gallery – curated by Angelica Gallegos – was to highlight an inventory of Native American art previously donated to SWAIA by artists, said SWAIA Indian Market Operations Director Jamie Schulze.
“Bishop’s Lodge wants to partner with local businesses, thought-leaders, and institutions that deeply value creativity, engagement, and conversation on the arts and ideas,” said General Manager Angelica Palladino.
“We are also very attuned to and interested in celebrating and honoring Indigenous artists from this area and making living artists a part of our story,” she said.
The works are for sale, and proceeds benefit Indian Market.
The show that opened Friday included works of Diné jewelers Robert and Darryl Begay, Robert Johnson, Ernest Benally, Henry Calladito, Prisanne, and Osavio Crespin, and painters Donovan Yazzie, Michelle Tsosie-Sisneros, and David John.
The two artists in attendance, renowned Northern Cheyenne painter/flute player Christopher James Rowland and emerging talent Diné sculptor Jazmin Novak, applicants to this year’s market, were also featured in the show.
Artist acceptance letters for this year’s centennial Indian Market are going out this week, said Schulze.
Rowland, 57, is a self-taught artist who has been painting since he was 7. His artwork has been exhibited in museums, exhibition halls, and private collections around the world.
As an accomplished Native flute player, he has also released two albums, “Dreams May Come” and “Flute Dreaming.”
Widely known for his stirring depictions of Native American people and landscapes, Rowland’s three light-infused, animated oil portraits – “Feathered Plains Perfection,” “Heart Beat,” and “Rudy” – were the focal point of attention at the exhibition.
Rowland told Navajo Times he believes it’s essential to pursue the gifts given to one.
“You’ve got to accept every gift – don’t let it go,” he said. “Let it pour out.
“You’ll never fail,” he said. “You will know that the gift was given to you because you are special, and you are blessed. The gift is yours. Protect it. Be thankful, and you’ve got it made.”
Making judging transparent
SWAIA Indian Market has also been working on an audit and systems analysis of its artist services department, which includes the jurying, judging, and application process, said Peone.
“For our artists, I would say that’s the number one thing that we’re going to bring to them is transparency and really streamline the system,” she said. “We don’t want to eliminate artistic expression.
“You have to find a balance between what has been traditional, what is contemporary, what is up and coming,” Peone said. “How do we bring that all in to be harmonious? That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Peone said she expects the process to be complete by next year.
“It’s been months and months of work because it just doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Schulze said serving Indian Market artists is SWAIA’s first priority.
“They are our constituents,” she said. “They’re the people that we do this for. That’s one of the reasons we delved into this artist services audit because artists are our customer base.”
Artist sculpts safe haven
Jazmin Novak, 23, who grew up in Albuquerque, graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 2021 with a bachelor’s in studio arts, majoring in sculpture and minoring in performing arts and technical theater.
She had two sleeping bronze rabbits and a prairie dog from her senior IAIA graduation exhibition “Closed Eyes,” showcased in the SWAIA/Bishop’s Lodge show.
While Novak says she always had an interest in sculpture, she learned how to make bronze, cast iron, glass, wood, stone and metal sculptures at IAIA.
“I’ve really been able to develop my artistic abilities and techniques as a sculptor and zero in on that side of my practice,” she said.
Novak said her idea for creating a series of slumbering animals and birds in her “Closed Eyes” exhibition came about when the coronavirus started spreading.
When the IAIA campus shut down, she said her work and living space became confined, and she had limited access to materials.
“At the beginning, I was really anxious,” Novak said. “I was depressed. I was scared. I was wondering what’s going to happen if I get coronavirus or my family gets it.”
She became overwhelmed by all of the uncertainties.
“I would sleep for days, or I wouldn’t sleep at all,” she said. “It was hard to get a routine down, and it was hard with my mental state.”
Novak longed to find peace and contentment again.
“I wanted to focus on something positive, so I started creating these sleeping animals,” she said. “They manifested the feelings I had and where I wished I was at – a peaceful place where I could sleep normally and not worry and be calm.
“Staying in the moment with the sculptures was really therapeutic for me,” she added.
As her focus on the work intensified, her collection of sleeping animals, including prairie dogs, ravens, coyotes, foxes, rabbits and mice, began to grow.
“It really helped,” she said. “I just really wanted to create a space where people feel at peace and feel calm and have a moment where they can look at the artwork and be distracted from everything else that’s happening in the world.”
Novak highly recommends Native American students interested in pursuing art studies to attend IAIA.
“They provide the tools and equipment that you can’t really get anywhere else,” she said. “They do a really good job taking you through the artistic part of it but the technical part. They’ll go through how to set up a studio (and) maintain the tools. All the teachers there are very understanding.”
Funded by IAIA, Novak also had unique work/study opportunities, such as interning with Pojoaque Pueblo figurative and monumental sculptor George Rivera, the Walt Disney Imagineering “Star Wars” expansion, and Meow Wolf Santa Fe.
She said IAIA also does an excellent job of helping students out financially.
“All of my school’s been paid for,” she said. “What wasn’t paid for through scholarships I was able to pay for through my art.”
Now Novak happily makes her living as a working artist and contributor at Meow Wolf.
The Horseshoe Gallery exhibition is open to the public through the end of May and is open Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Indian Market is scheduled August 20 to 21.