While pottery and jewelry are the mainstays of this year’s Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival, some of the most stunning works featured are painted on old checks, maps, receipts, and ledgers by Blackfeet artist Terrance Guardipee. His ledger paintings continue a tradition begun by Native American artists who made do when paper was scarce but government ledgers were plentiful on reservations. This freewheeling interchange between the utilitarian and the artistic predominates much of the American Indian art on display at the festival. Now in its sixth year, Native Treasures is an annual invitational art show and sale that, this time around, includes the work of roughly 200 artists from more than 40 tribes and pueblos. The proceeds of the show’s sales benefit the artists and the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, which has raised more than a quarter million dollars as the result of the event over the last five years.
Some of the highlights of this year’s show include works by Lonnie Vigil, a self-taught Nambé potter who receives the 2010 Living Treasures Award for his micaceous pottery, which is sleek and contemporary while being constructed in the traditional coil method. Other standouts include works by Larry Chino, an Acoma artist who makes seed pots covered in fractal geometric designs; Kathleen Wall, a Jemez Pueblo sculptor who creates whimsical figures of traditional clowns and storytellers; and Preston and Debra Duwyenie, a Hopi/Santa Clara Pueblo husband-and-wife team who build elegant micaceous-clay water vessels inlaid with sgrafitto etchings of birds and flowers. Also on hand are Diné weavers whose work is sold through the famed Toadlena Trading Post, located in the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico.
Organizers say that, in order to encourage diversity and appeal to returning visitors, a third of the show consists of work by artists new to the festival. This year the Native Treasures also has an emerging-artists section that includes work by college-and high-school-aged artists. Along with all the art, the show features music and dance performances and food provided by Cowgirl BBQ. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 22 (there is an early-bird market from 9 to 10 a.m.; admission is $15), and Sunday, May 23, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 W. Marcy St.). Admission is $5 on Saturday and free on Sunday; tickets are available at the entrance. Call 476-1250 or visit www.nativetreasuressantafe.org for information. For tickets to the 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 21, presale gala benefit, call 982-6366, Ext. 112.
Terrance Guardipee (Blackfeet): Untitled, 2009, ledger painting, 24 x 36 inches