A little over 10 years ago, when Preston and I had been talking about putting together the first gathering of Northwest Coast Artists to be held during Celebration 2006 in Juneau, Alaska, he had mentioned Islandwood retreat learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington State as a possible location. He felt that the location of this beautiful retreat in a heavily wooded forest would foster a networking of life-long friendships, kindle collaborations, and create a very tight group of artists where we could truly focus on any art and cultural issues in a very real way. 10 years and 2 Northwest Coast Native artists gatherings later, we finally made it a point to visit IslandWood yesterday; it was obvious to me during this site visit why Preston insisted on IslandWood as the place for conducting next year’s gathering of Tlingit artists – the location of this retreat is astounding!
The purpose of this gathering of Tlingit artists is to establish a loose coalition of mentors to consciously create a mentorship “guide” for our younger generations so we continue to endorse our future artists in whatever field they work.
There are five, dedicated, professional Tlingit artists who are at the helm of helping to organize this retreat. They include: Sue and Israel Shotridge, Donna Beaver Pizzarelli, Preston Singletary and myself.
At this time, Artstream Alaska and the Evergreen Longhouse are two organizations who will help sponsor this gathering.
We will be re-vamping the Artstream Alaska website where we will have information on the gathering. The goal for website completion is by November this year.
In the meantime, although all of us work together on all aspects of organizing this gathering, we each have organically “fallen into our main roles.” Sue and Israel works on cultural values and the administration, Preston works on fundraising, Donna gathers materials to eventually design and create the website, and during my travels, I have been networking and collecting names of Tlingit artists.
At first we were going to invite any and all Northwest Coast artists from any background and tribe. Then we got to thinking about the differences in some of the values and we thought the gathering will already be challenging enough with the variety of egos, that we would like to keep it simple. We will be inviting only Tlingit artists for this gathering. We envision other tribes will be inspired to create their own mentorship program for their next generations.
IslandWood is a nationally recognized outdoor learning center located across Puget Sound from Seattle’s urban center. IslandWood’s mission is to provide exceptional learning experiences and to inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship. Each year, more than 25,000 people participate in IslandWood’s programs on the 225-acre campus and in communities throughout the region. In addition to our school programs, IslandWood offers a graduate program in partnership with the University of Washington, summer camps, and community programs for children and adults. Revenue from conferences and retreats and contributions from the community enable IslandWood to underwrite our outdoor education programs for children from low-income communities.
For more information on IslandWood, you may visit their website at: www.islandwood.org
As I mentioned earlier, Artstream Alaska will be our main sponsor for this project. When the re-vamped website is launched by November 1st, we will be inviting selected Tlingit artists to check out all the information to see if they would like to participate. We are inviting Tlingit artists based on their artistic merit, their involvement in the arts and culture and their obvious concern for the health and well-being of our people.
Currently, the dates for this 3-day Tlingit Mentorship Retreat is set for next year, September 16 through the 18th, 2016. This will be a retreat. We ask that each artist make a clear commitment all 3 days and nights. We encourage artists to book any outside activities (i.e. visit family and friends in the Seattle area, shopping, sightseeing, etc.) before or after the 3 days.
Once the Artstream website is re-vamped and we’ve got our ducks in order (goal is November 1st), we will send out our invites to our Tlingit artists pointing them to read about our mission statement, the confirmed dates and times, the agenda of the mentorship project, the cultural leaders who will be helping to guide this 3-day event, and the list of artists who will be committing to attend this historical event.
Our space has a capacity limit of up to 50 artists. The room and board is covered for each artist attending all 3 days. At this time, we are seeking funds to help pay up to $250 (or less) for each artist’s travel expenses. This will be invitation only, though we are open right now to receive names and contact info of anyone who you may know who fits the bill for a Tlingit mentor.