Native American artists, crafters, authors, drummers and flutists from near and far will be converging at Native Quest Cultural Center this weekend, April 27-29, for the center’s first annual Art Festival.
Featuring 10 juried artists and 10 families of fine artists, this event is being organized by artist John Romero and the staff at the center. Romero is a painter in acrylics and an accomplished silkscreen poster artist whose clients range from rock bands to businesses http://100degrees.net. His “Ledger Art” is most fascinating, done by painting Native American images on old documents dating back to the Civil War that he finds in antique shops. Romero will have such works at the Art Festival.
Native Quest Executive Director Kathy Foy said Tacoma is the perfect spot to hold such an art fest given that the South Sound has the third largest urban Native American population in the country.
“There are more than 200 tribes represented by urban Native Americans in Tacoma and Olympia,” she said.
Many different tribes will be represented at the festival. Only authentic Native American art is being allowed, and each artist must be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. This was Romero’s job to confirm.
“We actually looked at the artists’ work and then we verified that they’re enrolled Native American and that they’re certificated, guaranteeing that it is an original art piece of their own,” he said. This way, those who bid in the silent auction will know they are purchasing bona fide and true Indian art, which is the same standard Native Quest requires of all its artists who sell works there.
Artists showcased at the festival are these local and national talents, each bringing their own unique styles: George Flett, Peter Boone, John Romero, Everett White, Andrew Morrison, Molly Kubista, Zona Evon, David Craig, George Zantua and Don Charbonneau.
The Art Festival weekend kicks off April 27 with a reception and artist meet-and-greet from 6-8 p.m. James Old Coyote and his family will perform Northwest coastal canoe songs. The silent auction will launch as well, and bids will be taken throughout the weekend, as each artist has been asked to contribute at least two pieces to the auction.
On Saturday, the festival opens at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. The Native Quest Café will be open on this day and all weekend, featuring delicious Comanche-style buffalo enchiladas courtesy of a recipe from Native Quest Director of Programs Deborah Comanchegirl Lightfoot. At 6 p.m., a Coastal Jam and Open Mic begins, with James Old Coyote and his family back for more music making.
An all-day informal flute festival will be going on Saturday and Sunday as well, with an open invitation to any flute player to drop in and take part. Hand drummers, too, are invited to come and play Sunday for the Northwest Flute and Hand Drum Festival from 5-10 p.m.
Sunday is the fine arts show, in which invited fine arts families will show their exquisitely made works from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. These will include carvers, silversmiths, jewelers, paddle makers, basket weavers, hat makers, cornhusk crafters, cradleboard makers and more. From the Cowlitz Nation, stone weaver (mason) Linda Lavier will be there with her cousin Gina Kling, a potter. Nancy Burgess of the Sieletz Tribe will show and sell her beautifully weaved baskets and cedar hats, while her 12-year-old son Doug will display his glass blowing skills. Three members of the Zantua family (Tsimshian/Haida Tribe), who are artists and carvers, will be there as well.
Book signings will also take place on Sunday: Tasha Ina Church (“We Are One at the Falling of the Sun”), Nan McNutt, author of story and activity books for children, and Phil Red Eagle (“Red Earth, A Vietnam Warrior’s Journey”).
Those planning to attend the Art Festival on Saturday may also want to check out Tacoma Community College’s annual pow wow, held in the Building 11 Student Center. Grand Entries start at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. This community event is free and open to the public. Food and merchandise will be available for purchase. The college is located at 6501 S. 19th St.
Native Quest Cultural Center is located at 2354 Jefferson Ave. For more information, call (253) 627-8033.