March 6 & 7, 2010
One of the country’s premier Indian fairs and markets attracts collectors to the Heard Museum grounds in downtown Phoenix the first weekend of March.
More than 700 Native American artists display a vast array of original arts and crafts.
The artisans come from all over America, not just Arizona. To participate each artist must be jurored into the show, a prestigious acknowledgement of the quality of their work.
A basket weaver from the Pacific Northwest Coast creations represent traditional woven items of the region.
While Southwest Indian art is well represented. Tribal members from around the country exhibit contemporary and traditional art forms.
Rows and rows of booths and large exhibit tents gives each artist individual space to display their work. Whether one is a serious collector or just looking for an inexpensive keepsake shoppers get to met the person who created their chosen purchase.
The green yucca plant is an important material for Hopi basket makers. This Hopi artist was happy to explain the process from gathering the natural materials to finished product.
The more we learn the more we appreciate the time, talent and skill involved in creating each piece. Many of the traditional designs have been passed down through several generations. Artists often say they first learned from their grandmothers.
Throughout the weekend artist demonstrations let us view the creative process. Whether it’s working a flat piece of silver into a lovely necklace or transforming a lump of clay into a pottery figurine shoppers enjoy watching the artists at work.
Questions are willingly answered. As we talk with the artists we witness an unique balance of modesty and pride in their art form.
Music, including R. Carlos Nakai, and dance performances give attendees a break from shopping. There is so much to take in we find it helpful to switch focus from time to time.
Each year a different tribal group is featured, the Hopi in 2009 and bands of the Apache people in 2010. “Apache Peoples and Arts” will highlight elder artists, food, a wikieup (traditional Apache lodging), and storytelling by Apache entertainer Ken Duncan.
What would an event be without food? Not to worry, there are plenty of opportunities to nosh our way through the day. Of course, there is traditional Indian fry bread. We fascinated to watch the Hopi piki maker. Piki is a thin rolled bread made with fine blue corn flour and culinary ash. The maker spreads a thin layer of the batter on a hot griddle with her hand. Almost immediately the practically transparent layer of piki is ready to be rolled. Watching the labor intensive steps we understand why this is a rare treat.
Apache acorn soup will be available in 2010 as well as selections ranging from Cajun and Mexican specialties to gelato. Tables in the tree shaded courtyard are the perfect place for people watching as we have lunch.
Indian Fair tickets include admission to the ten galleries of the Heard Museum. However, we found so much to do and see at the Fair & Market that the museum had to wait for another day.
Gates swing open for general admission both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am – 5pm.