On the side of the road near the Texas/Oklahoma border, there were these painted VW Bugs…
With my friend Emily, we drove a straight and narrow 14 hours from Colorado to Oklahoma for my first Cherokee Indian Ar held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While in Tulsa, I will also be checking out my Tulsa Artist Residency’s new digs still under construction.
A huge symbol of Christ stands amongst the clouds
Walking the hallway carpet at the Hampton Inn & Suites
Clarissa’s 1st Cherokee Art Market booth will be in the “Sequoyah” room at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday and Sunday, October 10 & 11, 10am to 5pm — If you are in the neighborhood, come on and check it out!
Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal plan the floor layout of their next year’s October 2016 exhibit at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C.
A year after the initial idea of an exhibit featuring traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast regalia and clothing with Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal, we finally met up at the house of Curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis to review the basics of the exhibit!
The exhibit opens at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada next year in October and will run for approximately 5 months. We will be featuring a total of 20 to 30 individual ensembles of which during opening night only will be modeled with the accompaniment of traditional songs set to Preston Singletary’s latest jazz funk band called “Ku’eex.” Directly after opening night, the ensembles will be placed on their respective mannequins.
Stay tuned for updates on the progress of our exhibit!
Curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Contemporary clothing designer Sho Sho Esquiro, and Ceremonial regalia-maker, Clarissa Rizal
Clarissa weaves “Copper Man” Ravenstail ceremonial dance robe – 2006
The New Mexico PBS “Colores” television series recently posted their youtube video clip on me and my work. Most of the film clips was shot by my son, Kahlil Hudson, with in-studio interview by KTOO radio station in Juneau, and most of the still shots of my Chilkat and button blanket robes were photographed by Jeff Laydon. The video clip is about 8 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5nLxfERNwg
With hecklers from the side line, Ozzie Sheakley sports a “sporty” jacket with the 40-year anniversary design of a canoe with images of the 4 main clans from Hoonah, Alaska. Designed by Clarissa Rizal — photo by Deanna Lampe
I rarely wear these type of sporty jackets made of synthetic materials. I am spoiled with the wool jackets made by Woolrich or Pendleton. Remember the halibut jackets that were worn by all the cannery workers here in Alaska? And later on the Pendleton company started coming out with their fancy, lined Pendleton jackets and coats. That’s more my style. However, a jacket that has this cool image on it make me want to spend $250!
What is an artist gathering without breakfast!? L to R: Teri Rofkar, Diane Douglas-Willard, Delores Churchill, Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Nathan Jackson, Wayne Price, Jerrod Galanin, Israel Shotridge, Sue Shotridge
What is the purpose of a small group of large egos coming together in a cozy space for two full days have to do with creating art?
L to R: Lily Hope, Sue and Israel Shotridge, Wayne Price, Jeremiah James, Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Delores Churchill, Gordon Greenwald, Deborah Head, Da-ka-xeen Mehner
The Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsored it’s first Northwest Coast Artist Gathering to seek advice from approximately 26 Sealaska shareholder (or descendants of shareholder) artists for their Native Artist Program. Some of the programs include: the SHI Retail Shop, the Native Artist Market held during the bi-ennial Celebration, the Apprentice/Mentorship Program, and the most recent proposal of the Dugout Canoe Project.
L to R: Allison Bremner, Crystal Worl, David Boxley, Jr., Wayne Price, Nathan Jackson, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Clarissa Rizal, Steven Jackson, Jeremiah James, Preston Singletary
I think that I can speak for most if not all of us, that it was an honor for all of us to be in the presence of one another while we touched upon a number of subjects having to do with the creation of art, the passing on of the knowledge, and the marketing of our work while still maintaining a sense of balance in our lives within the basis of our Native spirituality. I think all of us had a good time getting to know one another since we come from many different backgrounds and communities along the Northwest Coast of this continent. I know that all of us felt that natural high of being in the same room with one another and having the opportunity to share ideas and inspire one another during our breakfasts and lunches together. Thank you to Sealaska Heritage Institute for putting together a fine Gathering.
Wayne Price explains the method to his madness of his adz work in the new Walter Soboleff Center to: Steve and Nathan Jackson, David Boxley, Jr., and Da-ka-xeen Mehner
Back in 1981, I was hired (as the 5th employee) of Sealaska Heritage Institute as their Scholarship Coordinator. There was Executive Director David Katzeek, Secretary Lisa Sarabia, Scholarship Coordinator Mary McNeil who was training me to take her position, and my Aunt Katherine Mills who was recording our language and many of the Native stories and songs that eventually Dick and Nora Dauenhauer transcribed and translated into written books published by SHI. The Bi-ennial “Celebration” had not even been created yet, though in 1981 there was a gathering of the elders who at that time felt there needed to be an event which provided an opportunity for the sharing of the oratory, the stories, history and legends, and the song and dance. Hence, Celebration began in 1982.
Guest Artist, Aleutique carver Perry Eaton explains the invite to the French exhibit in 2016, L to R Rosita Worl, Preston Singeltary, Holli Churchill, Lily Hope and Rico Worl.
Rosita Worl has been at the helm of Sealaska Heritage Institute for the past 17 years. I have watched SHI grow into the institute that it has become. As I said in my introduction at the gathering, although I don’t agree with some of Rosita’s business tactics, I commend her on the dedication she has towards making things happen at SHI, not to mention her dream of creating the beautiful Walter Soboleff Building that now houses the inner workings of SHI with all of its language, art and culture programs, publications, retail shop, exhibit hall, simulated clan house and archives.
1981 was nearly 35 years ago. I was a kid, really. I was going through the motions of being a responsible young parent, a young artist, a young mind full of ideas, hopes and dreams. I’m still kind of like that, but now I am facing another type of dream which includes more responsibility than I thought I had 35 years ago. I feel a responsibility towards our younger generations. There are many of us who are not going to be around much longer; many of us in our 50s and 60+ are beginning to feel like we have to pass on our knowledge before our time is up! And it’s not just the technique we teach, it is our Native values and our process of being in how we pass on our knowledge. No Westerner is going to be able to teach what we know spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. It is next to impossible because they don’t “have the connection” – that DNA that innately is passed from one generation of a people to the next. For example, it would be impossible for me to teach the African weavers how to weave their style with their ways because I was not born to that bloodline or landscape or culture; nor would I want to take away from their livelihood.
Right side of the room: Closest to furthest away…Sue Shotridge, Israel Shotridge, Wayne Price, David Boxley, Sr., Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Chuck Smythe, Gordon Greenwald, Konrad Frank, Deborah Head, Nobu Kock (w/camer) and Da-ka-xeen Mehner
So when SHI talks about their “Formline Curriculum” (which was just published at the disappointment of many of our artists), and their idea of partnering with the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau to create the Northwest Coast Art Academy, to inspire and teach our younger generation of artists and scholars, then judging by this most recent past and the fact that the formline curriculum was drafted (by non-Natives with the token Native advisers), printed and distributed, and SHI puts our Non-Native scholars up on a pedestal and is not in the habit of employing our own Native scholars, advisers, teachers and artists, then what makes us believe and think that our own Native teachers will truly be at the helm of the Native Art classes offered at UAS to give the “stamp of approval and credit” that now we have taught and created true “Northwest Coast Native artists?”
Lunch time with Perry Eaton connecting with several of the Northwest Coast artists
The teaching of Northwest Coast Native Art taught in an academic setting by non-Native art instructors is a big concern to some of us Native artists. Big concern, though many of us do not voice our opinions about it for a number of reasons. Why? Fear. There is a possibility we get ousted out by SHI and UAS and ousted by other fellow artists who are “part of the academic circle” — we are accused of being racists, we fear to be ousted out by grant organizations, other art institutions, galleries, cultural centers, etc. etc.
Notice the small binder provided for every artist attending the NWC Artist Gathering: each binder was personalized with the artist’s name. Like how cool is that?
None of us want to be accused of racism, or not have the opportunities that other Native artists have in the art world, or not be able to provide for our families because we fear that eventually there is no support for us, and we find ourselves alone because even our fellow Native artists may shun us. It’s a horrible feeling to THINK about these things. So what do we tend to do? We keep our mouths shut. There are many of us who will not speak up about our disappointments in how the non-Native artists, academics and cultural centers such as SHI have not hired our own people for prominent jobs. Why not? Some of the reasons may be because they feel that the non-Native have more experience at teaching in the academic arena, or are “better” teachers, or that the non-Native is more knowledgeable about the topic(?). Of course, that is how it is going to be. We are not of the western mind-set and do not necessarily teach in the same way that is for sure, however, this is no excuse, because as studies have shown, Native people learn in an entirely different manner than non-Native so therefore, it is only sensible that a Native person teach our own Native students, right?
Two artists of the younger generation: Jerrod Galanin and Crystal Worl
SHI Art Director Kari Groven, Sealaska Chairman of the Board Joe Nelson, basketweaver Delores Churchill and silversmith Chilkat weaver Darlene See share a moment of laughter as they stage their interaction for the camera!
Two buddies, Clarissa Rizal and carver Wayne Price
Weaver Teri Rofkar and carver Wayne Price discuss the politics around mountain goat hunting
Sure we have the Artist Gathering to provide advice and guidance to assist SHI (and other institutions for that matter). And we touched upon all kinds of topics to assist them in assisting us. But truly, how many of us Native artists will directly benefit from donating four days of our precious time to SHI (two days of prep/travel and two days of actual gathering time)? We each gave SHI and our communities 4 days of our time; in a culture where reciprocity is important, how will those four days be reciprocated? And how many of our younger generation of artists will benefit from the advice we gave to influence the actions and decisions of SHI, and eventually UAS and other institutions that say that they are here to help us preserve and perpetuate Native art, language and culture? How much of the advice we provided will these institutions actually use? The answers will remain to be seen.
After breaking out in three working groups, each group presented their advice for the topics at large (some of the comments are written on the large Post-It notes on the wall. Listening are: Preston Singletary, Holli Churchill, Rico Worl, Ronnie Fairbanks, Deborah Frank-McLavey, Diane Douglas-Willard, Nathan Jackson, Steven Jackson, Teri Rofkar, Jerrod Galanin and Crystal Worl
How come the topic of Native indigenous hire as opposed to non-Native hire was not ever brought up during the gathering?
Because all of us know this is a topic of “hot” discussion and no one wanted to rock the boat; this was not the purpose of this gathering, yet the topic is something that many of us are passionate about. No one brought it up because many of us have the same fears and we don’t speak up for reasons named above. And the topic was not discussed because both SHI (and UAS) know that they will not be able to live up to the idea, let alone the promise or written agreement, that no matter what, they will always hire the Native over the non-Native. Bottom line.
Crystal Worl presents her design method concepts to the gathering
If we do not bring these “hot” subjects up at artists’ gatherings, and many of us feel that we are not being “heard” elsewhere, then how do we go about presenting the issue so that those who need to hear it are actually listening without being defensive? How do we propose the concepts of Native hire, and the buying of Native art and product over the overseas-made “art” and “product”? How many times, how many ways, how many places, and how many people need to hear these are really big issues for the Northwest Coast Artists before they BELIEVE us, BELIEVE IN US?
Holli Churchill, Gordon Greenwald and Deborah Head in action…
So with all that I have said here, then you may ask: what was the true purpose of this SHI Artists Gathering? As I mentioned earlier: we came together invited by SHI’s Native Artists Committee to provide advice to SHI for their various projects to help them work out the bugs to advance their offerings to help advance the careers of their Shareholders who are artists. We are all in this together; there is no “us” and “them.” What affects one, affects us all.
Parting: Sue Shotridge, Deborah Frank-McLavey, Diane Douglas-Willard, Teri Rofkar
Wearing a Tammy Beauvois “beaded” dress and a pair of Chilkat armbands that she wove, Clarissa stands between her Chilkat curtains (she designed and printed), with her latest Chilkat robe behind her on the loom below “An Ocean Runs Through Us” Limited Edition Giclee triptych print – Photo by Juli Ferrerra
I had never heard of the Santa Fe Indian Market until August 1987; it was the first time I had seen so much fantastic art in all my life. One of the first booths I had seen was the Alaskan gal Denise Wallace’s jewelry; of course there was a huge crowd around her booth like no one else’s because her astounding jewelry was like none other. She was and still is, a celebrity.
Northwest Coast Native Tlingit artist Clarissa Rizal with Julia White from the Tulsa Artist Residency
The market opens early Saturday at 7am for those art collectors who are racing for that prize possession and enthusiasts who want to get ahead of the crowd. I had heard several people from a number of institutions came by my booth that early but I was not available. Directly after I spent 2 hours setting up my booth, directly at 7 I had to pick up my “Chilkat Child” who I had entered into the Juried Art Show; it took about an hour of waiting in line. However, I was able to catch Julia White, the coordinator of the Tulsa Artist Residency, from which I was one of 12 artists across the nation who was chosen as a recipient of their inaugural residency fellowship to live and work in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a year.
Full view of Clarissa Rizal’s booth (day 2) at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015
I did my very first Santa Fe Indian Market in 1994 winning the Best of Show with my “Following My Ancestor’s Trail” button blanket wall mural which sold to a collector from Tuscon, Arizona. I won about $5K in awards, sold my load of button blanket greeting cards featuring 9 of my favorite robes, and sold a Ravenstail headdress. I walked away with a chunk of change; it was enough to put a down payment on a house!
Left side of Clarissa Rizal’s booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015, featuring “Northwest by Southwest” button blanket robe surrounded by Giclee prints, and clothing/ceremonial regalia for children
The Santa Fe Indian Market is a zoo; it draws about 100,000 visitors from all over the world for the week before and after the Market. Lots of traffic jams in Santa Fe during this time. I don’t understand how artists can do this show every year. I cannot do this show every year. It takes me about 4 years to re-couperate which is why this is only the 5th time I have been an artist vendor at the market. It’s a lot of work to prepare for the market, then we gotta set up at 5am to 7am when the market opens. And when the day is done at 5pm, we gotta strike the set and pack it up, only to do the same thing the next day. It doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it IS!
Right side of Clarissa Rizal’s booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015 featuring “Egyptian Thunderbird” button robe surrounded by Limited Edition Giclee and hand-silkscreened prints and the 5-piece Chilkat woven ensemble “Chilkat Child” all by Clarissa Rizal
I had a good time at this market. It was the first time my booth faced the sunshine; I think that is why I enjoyed this year better than all the other years. You see, when I come from a grey, damp place like Juneau, Alaska and land in the arid country of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it naturally puts a smile in my body. Many of us Tlingits know what I experience!
And yes, all the items you see in these photos of my booth at the market are for sale, except the white curtains and the chilkat robe on the loom. I invite you to contact me for prices and more information.
Cousins Likoodzi and Violet
Another pleasant aspect of this year’s Indian Market included being with my kids and grandchildren during the week. There’s nothing like being a grandma. And though I am not a great grandmother, I am learning how to become one…!
Israel Shotridge, Preston Singletary, Sue Shotridge (obscured) and Clarissa Rizal talk definition of a mentor – photo by Kahlil Hudson
The night before the market, several Tlingit artists gathered together for a dinner at my son’s house in Santa Fe. We were discussing the logistics of creating a mentorship program for our artists back home, based on New Zealand’s Maori artists. We asked ourselves enough questions, like “What does it mean to be a mentor? How do you know you are a mentor? What are the expectations of self as a Mentor and expectations from the apprentice?
Kahlil holds daughter Violet while the little old man “Hassie” runs amok!
There are many events sponsored by other organizations outside of SWAIA’s (Southwest Association of Indian Arts) annual Indian Market, including an offspring of the Indian Market called IFAM which takes place for two days at the “Railyard”; there’s an artist supply market at the El Dorado Hotel de Santa Fe; there’s Dorothy Grant’s fashion show and of course, numerous gallery openings!
The 2015 Institute of American Indian Arts Scholarship Dinner and Auction
The Institute of American Indian Arts Scholarship Gala is held the Wednesday before the Santa Fe Indian Market (Saturday & Sunday); the place is packed with prominent artists, arts organizations across the country including representatives from NMAI (National Museum of the American Indian), NACF (Native Arts & Culture Foundation), art historians and collectors. I was invited by NACF to be a guest at their table since I had recently won this year’s fellowship.
Who were these people who shared a delicious meal at the IAIA Gala dinner table?
Nearly 22 years ago when I first had a booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the only Northwest Coast artist represented was a totem pole carver, Reggie Petersen from Sitka, Alaska. He said he had been doing the market for nearly 20 years with no other comrades from the Northwest except clothing designer, the late Betty David, and he was so happy to finally see “another Tlingit!” Although we had never met, he hugged me as if I were the last person on earth! lol. His wife, 4 children and he would make it an annual sojourn where they would take the ferry from Sitka to Seattle, then drive to Santa Fe and back again. He always had a log that he was carving smack dab in the middle of the Santa Fe Plaza. He said this was one of the ways in which he received commissions for totem poles. Lots of work being a full-time artist with 4 children.
Haida basket weavers Diane Douglas-Willard, her daughter Jianna and Dolly Garza are vendors at the market too. Diane says she has been a vendor at the Market for 20 consecutive years.
Tlingit photographer Zoe Marieh Urness and her twin sister with a visitor at her IFAM booth BEFORE the Santa Fe Indian Market
One of the hardest things about being a vendor at the market is that I don’t have time to take a break and visit all the other artists let alone attend all the other activites such as the main-stage performances or the fashion show. However, the day before Indian Market began, my daughter Lily and I took a jaunt over to the Railyard where the IFAM art show was happening. We saw several Northwest Coast Native artists including Peter Boome and Zoe Marieh Urness!
Coast Salish artist Peter Boome making a sale with customers at his IFAM booth
I admire the small city of Santa Fe for its unique architecture, dramatic style in clothing, furniture, jewelry — everything for that matter! Even its people! Check out the Trader Joe’s de Santa Fe! Holy—now THERE’s a mixture of all kinds of folks in a middle-class store! Simply entertaining to watch who shops there.
During the early morning of the first day of the Santa Fe Indian Market, a large group of young protestors marched through announcing their disagreement with the government continuing to pollute the Southwest environment and then lying about it. I was surprised there was a demonstration yet proud that the younger generation has stepped up to the plate. It is a good thing to bring awareness to the general public about atrocities to our human race and its well-being.
Sure felt good to see demonstrators for a worthy cause during the opening day of the Santa Fe Indian Market
And then directly after the demonstration, there was this guy across my booth standing with a black, worn-out umbrella. (He sure looked familiar! Lol.) The sun wasn’t even at its hottest yet, though he was prepared for anything. That’s the message for you folks today: be prepared for anything!
Is that Israel Shotridge under the umbrella on Palace Avenue in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the Indian Market
Grandma Rissy with Mamma Lily holding Louis – Sandy Beach, Douglas, AK – July 2014
I will be moving away for a year starting January 2nd. Moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the entire year of 2016. It will be the first time: 1) living in a city bigger than 60,000, 2) living away from any family, relatives or friends (like nobody there knows me), 3) living away from nature as I will be living right down town in the Brady Arts District
I am 1 of 12 inaugural artists from across the U.S. who will be essentially paid to live in Tulsa, given a brand new apartment with the option of a separate studio. Click here to read about the TAR and the other 11 selected artists.
Although I am excited about “living on my own” away from everything that I love, I know that I am going to especially miss my grandchildren!
Clarissa’s grand-daughter, Amelie models “Chilkat Child” a 5-piece handwoven ensemble to be featured as 1 of 18 Chilkat robes to be exhibited during the Antique Native American Art Show
The Antique American Indian Art Show launches at El Museo in Santa Fe’s Railyard with an opening night gala on August 17th (6-9pm) benefiting New Mexico PBS. Show dates run from August 18-20th (11am-6pm), featuring a special Chilkat Blanket exhibit – (they say) the most extensive collection ever presented!
Lily Hope, Delores Churchill and Cheryl Samuel are a part of this exhibit as well.
Come check us out on opening night Monday, August 17th; we’re gonna dress up and meet the Native Art Market crowd!
Read about the producers of this event by clicking here!