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Heard Fair


Recently, I returned, both excited and exhausted, from two wonderful days on the grounds of the Heard Museum in Phoenix where more than 700 American Indian artists (that’s right, more than 700!) had gathered for their annual Native art exhibition and sale. The Heard Fair, in its 51st year, is the largest presentation of contemporary Indian art anywhere in the United States with the exception of Santa Fe Indian Market.

darrell_jumbo_heard_400 Marti and artist Darrell Jumbo review the titles of his playful silver jewelry pins
Basking in the warmth of the Arizona winter, I was among the 15,000 guests to walk through what seemed like endless aisles of beautiful displays presented by today’s most prominent Native American artists . . . native jewelers, native basket makers, native painters, native weavers, native potters, native sculptors, and native bead workers were among the exhibitioners. 

Like many others, I spent the day looking, talking and asking questions of individual artists. When a visitor does this hour after hour, they gain a broad sense of what is happening today in American Indian art. My overriding impression from the fair was that a high level of innovation is occurring among these Native artists.  More and more, native artists are trying entirely new forms, new crafting techniques, new styles based on traditional concepts and, most-importantly, totally new, highly contemporary styles with little, if any, relationship to tradition.  For example, Navajo artist Darrell Jumbo's whimsical silver pins come entirely out of his fertile imagination, not connected in any recognizable way to traditional Navajo jewelry styles.  Take a look at Darrell's wonderful "Smiley" dog silver pin.
perry_shorty_herd_400 Marti is quite impressed with Perry Shorty's amazing single-stone natural turquoise cuff bracelet.  She's got that, "you've done it again, Perry" look on her face.

At the other end of the spectrum, the exquisite rendering of Perry Shorty’s bracelet with it’s single large natural Kingman turquoise cabochon harkens back to the very best work of traditional Navajo silversmiths. 

I can only say that if any of you want a powerful snapshot of Native American art today, plan a trip to Phoenix the first weekend of March next year.  You’ll have an experience never to be forgotten.

Be sure and look for my next Marti's Adventures coming soon.


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