“Generations” exhibit at downtown Oklahoma City’s Red Earth Museum features art by American Indian families
“Generations,” a new exhibit on view through March 31 at downtown Oklahoma City’s Red Earth Museum, features the varied and unique artistic styles of several generations of family members from six Oklahoma families highlighted in the show. Many of the artists featured in the exhibit will attend a Wednesday, February 20 exhibition reception sponsored by the Oklahoma City Chapter of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. The event, scheduled from 5-7 pm, is free and open to the public.
“Generations” is funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council and features original works of art from some of Oklahoma’s most respected artistic families including the late Doc Tate Nevaquaya and his sons Calvert Nevaquaya and Tim Nevaquaya (Comanche Nation of Oklahoma); Iris Eby (Creek), her niece Susan Howard (Creek) and her daughter Rachel Howard (Seminole); and the late Tillier Wesley (Creek) and his son Micah Wesley (Creek).
Also featured are Sharron Ahtone Harjo (Kiowa) and her daughter Tahnee Growingthunder (Kiowa/Muscogee/Seminole); Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw/Ponca), his children Anevay Greenwood (Chickasaw/Ponca/Otoe) and Me-Way-Seh Greenwood (Chickasaw/Ponca/Otoe); and Gordon Yellowman Jr (Cheyenne), his wife Connie Hart Yellowman (Cheyenne) and their daughter Cristina Yellowman (Cheyenne). The featured artists in the show have an impressive array of awards from major art shows and competitions throughout the United States including many Red Earth art competition award recipients.
The Red Earth Museum is open free to the public Monday through Friday and Saturday by appointment at 6 Santa Fe Plaza next to the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City. For more information, go to www.redearth.org.
Hundreds of American Indian dancers, artists, performers and tribal members, plus supporters and fans of American Indian art and culture, converged on Oklahoma City over the weekend for the 26th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival. Check out this NewsOK video of some Red Earth highlights.
Although the festival is over for another year, one aspect is continuing throughout the summer: the inaugural Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Exhibit at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
On view through Sept. 9, the exhibit includes a range of works, from classical to abstract, created by Native American artists Denny Haskew, Enoch Kelly Haney, Janice Albro, Troy Anderson, Shan Gray, Clancy Gray, Gordon Tonips and others. The sculptures are installed in the Meinders Garden in the northeast corner of the Myriad Gardens and inside the visitors center on the south end of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Observatory.
Admission to the exhibit is free.
The exhibition is a partnership between the Myriad Gardens and Red Earth Inc. All works are for sale and proceeds benefit the Myriad Gardens Foundation, Red Earth Museum and the artists, according to a news release.
For more information, go to www.myriadgardens.org.
Bill Glass Jr. of Locust Grove has been named the Red Earth Honored One. The 26th Annual Red Earth Festival ends today at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Since its inception in 1987, Red Earth, Inc has selected a Native American master visual artist whose support of Indian art has been substantial throughout his or her life for this annual recognition.
“Bill Glass has inspired and taught other artists for more than 30 years,” said Red Earth board member David G. Campbell in his nomination of Glass. “He continues to work with children and the Cherokee Artists Association to promote southeast and Cherokee art. His public art installations have introduced Cherokee art to new audiences.”
Glass’s research and distinctive style have helped him win numerous awards throughout his career including Santa Fe Indian Market, Heard Museum Show, Red Earth Master Show, Five Civilized Tribes Museum and large commissions for the City of Chattanooga, Tenn., and City of Tulsa.
He was named a Cherokee National Treasure in 2009, Master Artist of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in 1986, and is recipient of the Cherokee Medal of Honor.
“Bill is by far one of the most original and innovative Native artists living today,” said award winning Native artist Benjamin Harjo Jr. in his nomination of Glass for the award. “He has a deep connection with his Southeastern Cherokee Heritage, but his creative designs are all on his own.
“Bills beautiful pottery and ceramic sculptures have taken Native pottery to a new plateau and his legacy to the art world will most definitely stand the test of time,” added Harjo. “Southeastern culture comes alive with his pottery; it teaches the public and makes them aware of this fantastic culture of the people of the Mississippian period.”
Glass will also be featured in the inaugural Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Show at Myriad Botanical Gardens, which opened Friday during the Red Earth Festival. The sculpture show, which features monumentual sculptures throughout the Myriad Gardens and inside the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, continues through Sept. 9.
For more than 30 years, the non-profit Red Earth, Inc. has been recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. The Red Earth Museum & Gallery, at 6 Santa Fe Plaza in downtown Oklahoma City, hosts a diverse and changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and is custodian of a permanent collection of more than 1,400 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork, including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.
For more information, go to www.redearth.org.
Neal McCaleb, Chairman of the Chickasaw Nation Industries, has been named the 2012 Red Earth Ambassador of the Year.
The 26th Annual Red Earth Festival closes today at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
The Red Earth Ambassador of the Year award was founded in 1991 to recognize individuals, not necessarily of Native American descent, who have made significant contributions in presenting a positive image of American Indians.
Ambassador of the Year recipients have come from all areas of accomplishments – including artists and sports stars, actors and journalists and community and government leaders. Previous recipients have included Olympian Billy Mills; historian, screenwriter and war correspondent Alvin M. Josephy, Jr; Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and poet laureate N. Scott Momaday: astronaut John Herrington and actor Kevin Costner.
A professional engineer and Chickasaw citizen, Neal McCaleb has served his state and nation in many capacities bringing recognition to himself, the Chickasaw Nation, and all Native Americans. He has been an advocate for Native American interests and well-being his entire adult life as exemplified by the positions of authority he has held.
He has received appointments from four governors and three presidents providing evidence he is held in high esteem both nationally and locally, according to a news release. His lifetime of achievements has made a significant impact in providing and promoting a positive image for all Native Americans.
McCaleb’s accomplishments and awards are vast, including:
- An appointment by President George W. Bush to Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (2001-2003)
- Appointment to Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation (1995-2001), by Gov. Frank Keating
- Named Director of Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (1995-2001) by Gov. Frank Keating
- Named Oklahoma’s first Secretary of Transportation (1987-1993), by Gov. Henry Bellmon
- Elected Minority Leader of Oklahoma House of Representatives (1979-1983)
- Elected to Oklahoma House of Representatives (1975-1983)
- Served on the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission (1967-1972)
- Appointed by President Richard Nixon to the National Council on Indian Opportunity (1972-1974)
- Appointed to the President’s Commission on Reservation Economies (1983-1984) by Pres. Ronald Reagan
- Appointed to the Board of Regents for the University of Arts and Sciences (2005 – present), by Gov. Brad Henry
- Oklahoma Transportation Center Interim Exec. Dir. (2006-2008)
- Advisory Board for Community Development Finance Institutions for the US Treasury Dept (2008 – present)
- Named 2011 OSU Distinguished Alumni Award
- 2011 Chickasaw Hall of Fame
- and 2011 Native American Newsmaker of the Year.
The Red Earth Ambassador award is represented by a bronze sculpture crated by Red Earth Festival award-winning artist Troy Anderson.
McCaleb served a grand marshal of the Red Earth Parade, which opened the festival Friday morning.
For more than 30 years, the nonprofit Red Earth, Inc has been recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. The Red Earth Museum & Gallery, at 6 Santa Fe Plaza in downtown Oklahoma city, hosts a diverse and changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and is custodian of a permanent collection of more than 1,400 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork, including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.
Go to www.redearth.org for additional information.
2012 Red Earth Festival art winners
R.W. Geionety: Grand Award, “Southern Thunder.”
Chase (Kahwinhut) Earles: Kathleen Everett Upshaw Award, “Tah-Nah-Hah ‘Buffalo.’”
Jimmie Harrison: President’s Award, “Hopi Maiden” and “Sunface Lifeline Belt.”
Jolene Bird: first place, jewelry traditional, “Longhorn Bracelet.”
George Begay: second place, jewelry traditional, “Sterling Silver Bolo Tie-Horned Toad.”
Joseph F. Coriz: third place, jewelry traditional, “Painted Pony.”
Dylan Cavin: first place, drawing/graphics, “Joe No Heart.”
Ron Mitchell: second place, drawing/graphics, “Sacred Fire to Space Walker.”
Jodi Webster: third place, drawing/graphics, “Wabansi Lakeside Chicago-Beyond Swag.”
Matthew Bearden: first place, painting oil/acrylic, “The Poser.”
Anita Caldwell Jackson: second place, painting oil/acrylic, “Go Ahead and Dance with the Little People.”
Gilmore Scott: third place, painting oil/acrylic, “Once we filled Red Earth.”
Scott Roberts: first place, pottery contemporary, “Double Goose.”
Victoria McKinney: second place, pottery contemporary, “Woodlands Bounty.”
Chase (Kahwinhut) Earles: third place, pottery contemporary, “Caddo Bus-Kah-Noo ‘Greyhorse.’”
Jerry Haney: first place, sculpture, “KVCVLKE ‘Panther.’”
Michael Martinez: second place, sculpture, “Pueblo Maiden.”
Troy Anderson: third place, sculpture, “Matter of Faith.”
Frances Begay: second place, textiles/weaving, “Yei Rug.”
Tahnee Growingthunder: third place, textiles/weaving, “Recycle Reused for Cultural Sustainability.”
Tahnee Growingthunder: first place, clothing, “Muscogee Moss Bag.”
Shan Goshorn: first place, photography, “High Stakes Tribes Choice #2.”
Alan Yeahquo: second place, photography, “Cedaring Ceremony After Breakfast.”
Gordon Yellowman, Jr.: third place, photography, “Arapaho Sisters Forever.”
Frank Mirabal: first place, cultural items, “Distance Thunder.”
Daniel Worcester: second place, cultural items, “Bird Hatchet.”
Nelda V. Schrupp: third place, cultural items, “Dessert Toad.”
Ernest Benally: first place, contemporary jewelry, “Dine the People.”
Anthony Lovato: second place, contemporary jewelry, “Horse Buffalo Spirit.”
Terrance Emery: third place, contemporary jewelry, “Spirit Horse.”
LuAnne F. Aragon: first place, traditional pottery, “Golden Fire.”
Jeraldine Redcorn: second place, traditional pottery, “Rattlesnake Panther.”
Scott Roberts: third place, traditional pottery, “OGEE.”
Gary A. Roybal: first place, diversified, “Mountain Monarchso Hame Kali.”
Daniel Worcester: second place, diversified, “Arrow Man.”
Rick Honyouti: third place, diversified, “Hopi Sun and Rain.”
Romana Tallbear: first place, beadwork, “Tall Girl in Buckskin.”
Laketa Pratt: second place, beadwork, “War Shirt and All His Wives.”
William Tallbear: third place, beadwork, “Cradleboard Set.”
Peggy Brennan Shelden: first place, basketry, “Many Twinnings.”
Shan Goshorn: second place, basketry, “So Long as the Waters Run.”
Shan Goshorn: third place, basketry, “Despite (AKA Three Sticks).”
Jane Semple Umsted: first place, painting waterbase, “We Come Silent.”
Gilmore Scott: second place, painting waterbase, “Following Traditions, The Proposal.”
John White: third place, painting waterbase, “Lord of the Prairie.”
From Saturday’s The Oklahoman.
Navajo Nation Band treks from Arizona to Oklahoma to march in the Red Earth parade
Featuring a dance competition, art market, youth activities, cultural cuisine and more, the 26th annual festival continues Saturday and Sunday to the Cox Convention Center.
While American Indian princesses clambered aboard sports cars, riders mounted their paint horses and tribal chiefs donned their traditional finery, occasional horn blasts, flute trills and snare riffs sounded Friday morning from the parking lot of the Peacock Restaurant.
Fresh off a bus from Window Rock, Ariz., the Navajo Nation Band was preparing to join its
first Red Earth Festival parade.
“It’s a huge event. One reason why we agreed to come on out here is to get more exposure, and we have some Navajos who do reside out in this area (and it’s) just to give them that proud, warm feeling,” said director Darwyn D. Jackson.
The parade annually kicks off the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival in downtown. Featuring a dance competition, art market, youth activities, cultural cuisine and more, the 26th annual festival continues Saturday and Sunday to the Cox Convention Center.
As the long line of floats, vehicles and steeds started circling the Myriad Botanical Gardens Friday morning, Jackson blew out a series of sharp whistles, signaling the band to play a lively marching tune and begin its jaunty procession through downtown Oklahoma City.
About 50 representatives of the 80- to 100-member band made the trek to Oklahoma, including a drum majorette, baton twirler, color guard, flag corps and, of course, an array of musicians. Miss Navajo Nation Crystalyne Gayle Curley marched with them in the parade.
On Friday afternoon, the band, which brings together Navajos from Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, performed a free concert in the Myriad Gardens, too.
While they play familiar marching music, their uniforms actually consist of traditional Navajo regalia: silver and turquoise belts, dark blue velveteen tops, white tiered skirts for the women and fitted white pants and medicine bags for the men, said drum majorette Laura Begay.
“We’re ambassadors of the Navajo Nation,” said Begay, who has been part of the multi-generation band for more than 30 years. as she and her cohorts warmed up. “This is the first time in all the years I’ve been with the band that I think that we’ve gone this far out to the east of the reservation.”
The Navajo Nation Band last played Oklahoma back in the 1960s, Jackson said.
“It started in the 1920s with a group of gentlemen that after they returned from the military, they came together and to better upkeep their musical skills, they practiced often and formed a conservation civilian corps,” he said. “Several of the members that were in the group were Navajo Code Talkers, and their purpose was just to welcome home other veterans.”
While the founders soon invited members of the Hopis, Zunis, Apaches and other tribes to practice with them, the group became the Navajo Tribal Band in 1938. It again welcomed home veterans during World War II. In the 1960s, its first full-time director, Birley R. Gardner, who had played with John Philip Sousa’s band, took the group all over North America. They marched in the Rose Bowl Parade in 1974 and later took part in the Sun Bowl and Fiesta Bowl festivities.
In recent years, they have mostly played fairs and events around the Navajo reservation, Jackson said, but they are expanding their outreach this year.
“This is one of our first major performances to kick off our season. Next month, July 4, we are headed up to Provo, Utah, for the America’s Freedom Festival,” he said. “Our main goal that we’re working up to for the end of this year … will be the Sun Bowl and to go back to the Fiesta Bowl.”
With its long and storied history, The band has become a family tradition for many of its
members. Joycietta Becenti, Jackson’s aunt, has played percussion in the group for 13 years, and her older daughter Ashlee Lee, a 14-year-old trumpeter, is among the group’s youngest performers.
“Since she was a year and 8 months, I think, she’s been along in a stroller. Then she walks, she carries the water, until she’s old enough now to play her own instruments,” Becenti said. “It’s kind of a family thing that we have going here in the marching band.”
“It’s cool,” her daughter added. “I saw her when I was small and I like wanted to be in this musical family chain.”
Becenti’s younger daughter, Leslie Lee, 10, hauls water for the band and plans to take up the flute when she gets older.
“It represents the biggest (American Indian) nation in the United States … and it shows we have talent to share as the Navajo Nation,” Becenti said. “Plus, we just have fun with it.”
Monah Davis and her family drove from Lawton to Oklahoma City Friday morning just to watch the Navajo Nation Band. Growing up in New Mexico, Davis and her three siblings played with the band when they were in high school, and now she has a nephew among its ranks.
“It’s always nice to see a part of you, a part of your family coming back,” Davis said. “I’m so ecstatic. I’m just full of joy.”
Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
When: 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Where: Cox Convention Center.
Grand entries: Noon and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon Sunday.
Information: 427-5228 or www.redearth.org.
Red Earth Festival adds sculpture exhibit; helps Oklahoma City become epicenter of American Indian culture this weekend
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Red Earth Festival adds sculpture exhibit at Myriad Gardens
Along with Red Earth, the Jim Thorpe Native American Games, deadCenter Film Festival and Native American New Play Festival are celebrating American Indian culture this weekend.
From sculptures and stickball to new plays and restored film, an array of American Indian traditions, stories and festivities will enliven Oklahoma City this weekend.
“This weekend, Oklahoma City is going to be epicenter of Native art and culture and sports in the country,” said Eric Oesch, deputy director of the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival.
“It is THE destination.”
The 26th annual Red Earth Festival will bring its famed parade, dance competition, art market, youth activities, cultural cuisine and more Friday-Sunday to the Cox Convention Center.
Entering its second quarter-century, The award-winning event is getting even bigger, partnering with the Myriad Gardens Foundation to bring the inaugural Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Exhibit to downtown’s recently revamped green space.
In addition, Red Earth organizers are spreading the word about other Oklahoma City events spotlighting American Indian culture, including the first-ever Jim Thorpe Native American Games, the deadCenter Film Festival and Oklahoma City Theatre’s Native American New Play Festival.
“Instead of competing, we’re working together,” Oesch said. “It only makes sense … because we’re all working on a shoestring budget.”
About 30,000 people are expected to attend Red Earth, including hundreds of American Indian dancers and artists, he said. The festival has been named Oklahoma’s Outstanding Event twice by the Oklahoma Tourism Department, Best Indian Pow-Wow twice by True West Magazine and one of 10 Great Places to Celebrate American Indian Culture last year by USA Today.
The festival’s first Red Earth Invitational Sculpture Exhibit will feature works by 10
renowned American Indian sculptors, including Enoch Kelly Haney, Shan Gray Clancy Gray, Denny Haskew, Troy Anderson and Janice Albro.
“We’ve had 26 years of artists coming through Red Earth, so we know some really great artists,” Oesch said. “But we didn’t have a spectacular outdoor venue … so it just works perfectly.”
“And it’s conveniently located right across the street from the Cox Center, so if people want to get out a little bit, they can come on over,” said Stephanie Royse, director of marketing and communications for the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
“Because these are larger-scale works, it’s nice that we can keep them up … for a longer time. And it just enhances the gardens.”
On view through Sept. 9, the sculptures will be installed in the Meinders Garden in the northeast corner of the Myriad Gardens and inside the visitors center on the south end of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Observatory. Admission will be free.
A free, public opening reception is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the south entrance of the Crystal Bridge.
Event-goers will get a sneak peek at the sculpture exhibit as the festival launches at 10 a.m. Friday with the Red Earth Parade, which has a new route that circles the Myriad Gardens.
The parade, featuring hundreds of participants in authentic tribal regalia along with drum groups, floats and bands, will line up in the 500 block of W California. The procession will march south on Walker to Reno, continue east to Robinson, travel north on Robinson to Sheridan and then go west one block to Hudson, where it will conclude.
“The gardens will be a great place for spectators,” Oesch said.
After marching in the parade, the Arizona-based Navajo Nation Band, which includes 60 musicians and drum majors ages 13 to 80, will play a free concert from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday on the Myriad Gardens Great Lawn.
From 5-year-old martial artists to an 84-year-old golfer, about 1,700 athletes representing 70 Indian nations, bands and tribes are expected to take part in the inaugural Jim Thorpe Native American Games, which kick off Sunday and continue through June 16 at various venues around the Oklahoma City metro.
The event, which will feature 10 different sports including basketball, track and stickball, will pay tribute to Oklahoma-born and bred Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation.
“The games are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s 1912 Olympic Games in Sweden, so we’re kind of planning our opening ceremony like an Olympic ceremony,” said Annetta Abbott, executive director of the games. “We’ll have a parade of nations where we’ll actually march the athletes in by tribe.”
The opening ceremonies, culminating in a fireworks display, will take place at 8 p.m. Sunday at Remington Park. Competition begins on Monday, and all events are free to the public.
“A lot of people if they’re coming in for Red Earth or something else, they might stay over for the opening ceremonies, and some of our athletes who are coming in Saturday can go to deadCenter and Red Earth,” she said. “The athletes and the coaches are so excited to get to come to Oklahoma.”
Old film, new plays
The expansive lineup of the 12th annual deadCenter Film Festival includes two major American Indian screenings.
The festival will offer the world premiere of “Daughter of Dawn,” a 1920 silent film regarded as the first to star an all-Indian cast. It was shot in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma, said deadCenter Executive Director Lance McDaniel. The film stars 300 Comanches and Kiowas, including the son and daughter of great Comanche leader Quanah Parker.
Screening at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, “Daughter of Dawn” has been restored by the Oklahoma Historical Society and includes a new musical score by Comanche composer David Yeagley.
The contemporary American Indian feature “The Dome of Heaven,” starring Wes Studi and filmed in Vici, will screen at 11:15 a.m. Saturday at Harkins Bricktown Theatre as part of deadCenter.
The movie was written and co-directed by University of Central Oklahoma alumna and American Book Award winner Diane Glancy, whose family drama “Salvage” is the centerpiece of the third annual Native American New Play Festival, wrapping this weekend at the Civic Center’s CitySpace Theatre.
Performances of “Salvage” are set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and will feature an all-American Indian cast of Oklahoma actors under the direction of Sarah d’Angelo, an Oklahoma City University assistant professor of acting who is of Mohawk heritage.
The festival, which moved from April to June this year, also will feature free staged readings Saturday and Sunday of three new plays by native Oklahoma writers of American Indian descent.
“With Red Earth going on … we’re hoping this will be a good fit,” said Rachel Irick, artistic director of Oklahoma City Theatre Company.
Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
When: 11 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Where: Cox Convention Center.
Grand entries: Noon and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon Sunday.
Parade: 10 a.m. Friday around the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Information: 427-5228 or www.redearth.org.
Red Earth Invitation Sculpture Exhibit
When: Friday-Sept. 9.
Where: Myriad Botanical Gardens Meinders Garden and visitors center.
Free opening reception: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Crystal Bridge south entrance.
Information: 297-3611 or www.myriadgardens.org.
Jim Thorpe Native American Games
When: Sunday-June 16.
Where: Various venues around Oklahoma City.
Opening ceremonies: 8 p.m. Sunday, Remington Park.
deadCenter Film Festival
When: Through Sunday.
Where: Multiple screens and venues throughout downtown Oklahoma City.
Native American New Play Festival
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Civic Center CitySpace Theatre.
Information: 297-2264 or www.OKCTC.org.
The 26th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival is about a month away!
The festival will be June 8-10 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Visitors to the state Capitol got a bit of a preview of the American Indian dancing and artwork showcased at Red Earth earlier this week during Arts Day at the Capitol. Red Earth was among about 40 different organizations who turned out at the Capitol to support the Oklahoma Arts Council and arts activities and education in the state.
Look for my coverage of the Red Earth Festival as the event draws closer. For more information, go to www.redearth.org.
From Saturday’s The Oklahoman.
Red Earth celebrates silver anniversary
Since 1987 Oklahoma City festival has been bringing together American Indian artists, dancers and tribes to share and honor their culture.
In a dazzling display of feathered, beaded and belled finery, hundreds of dancers wound into the Cox Convention Center Friday afternoon as the 25th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival commenced in downtown Oklahoma City.
Clad in their traditional regalia, they created a broad spectrum of vibrant hues, from reds, oranges and yellows to purples, blues and greens.
When artist Harvey Pratt reminisces about the first Red Earth Festival, his memories are equally colorful, just in a different way.
“It was in downtown and we had all our show outside in tents. And the Seminoles brought their alligators and put ‘em in a swimming pool, and a guy would jump in there and wrestle them around. And people would just gather,” the Southern Cheyenne traditional chief said.
While the city put a stop to the alligator wrestling, Pratt also vividly recalls the second Red Earth.
“They had a big storm and everybody had the leave, so then the following year they moved ‘em inside,” he said. “That second year I had a bunch of sculptures — my first year of spending money for bronzes — and the storm came and put ‘em in a box and grabbed all my paintings and ran to the car and left that box there. … Someone came and got ‘em and carried ‘em — and the last day they brought ‘em back to me.”
Pratt and his brother Charles have exhibited their artwork in the Red Earth Art Market every year since the festival began in 1987. In 2000, Charles was named Red Earth Honored One, a designation given yearly to a master visual artist. Harvey received the title in 2005.
“I enjoy it. I love seeing the people that come through here that I get to visit with every year. We sell a little art, and it’s home,” said Harvey Pratt, who lives in rural Guthrie and works as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s forensic artist. “People get to come from a lot of different places, different tribes come and get to participate … and it shares culture and it shares creativity.
For Charles Pratt, who lives in Gallup, N.M., the event offers a chance to show his work in his native state and reunite with friends and family, including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He and his brother typically exhibit in adjacent booths in the Red Earth Art Market.
“It brings a lot of money and tourism,” he said. “I hope it goes on longer than I do.”
Leroy Bridges, one of the festival’s founders, said Red Earth has an annual economic impact of nearly $9 million. Last year’s event drew more than 12,000 participants and 27,000 attendees, and the festival recently was named one of the country’s top 10 powwows by USA Today.
“The artists are able to make money and sell their product. People don’t have to go to Santa Fe to buy their art; they can get art here,” said Bridges, who serves on the Red Earth board of directors. “It’s very important not only to Native American people but to the community and the state.”
He added, “I’ve never missed a Red Earth event in 25 years, and this is probably the best one. It’s got that 25-year spirit.”
As the grand entry dancers filed into the arena with great pomp and pageantry, Floyd
Moses, 88, of Anadarko, watched the tiny tots turned out in their elaborate regalia with a nostalgic smile. A full-blood Pawnee Southern Straight dancer, he remembered his grandmother teaching him to dance when he was 4 or 5 years old. She would sit in a corner and sing for him, cautioning him to never let his dance cane touch the ground and watching his steps with an eagle eye.
“She’d sit me down and warn me to do it right,” he said. “She’d tell me that the Straight Dance is a gentleman’s dance, and the Pawnee are the original Straight dancers.”
Not only has he been dancing most of his life, Moses has participated in every Red Earth Festival.
“I don’t think I’ve missed a year,” he said. “I meet old friends and make new friends and just have a good time. … There’s a lot of good dancers. A lot of good ones. I like to watch the little ones, too. They sure are cute, and they’re gonna take over.”
“I’m glad it’s still going,” he added. “I imagine it’ll be going for a long time.”
The 25th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Cox Convention Center.
One-day admission: $10 for adults, $7.50 for ages 60 and older and for children ages 6-17, and free for children 5 and younger.
Red Earth Run: Registration begins at 7 a.m. Saturday at Regatta Park, 725 S Lincoln Blvd. The 10K and 5K races begin at 8 a.m.
Information: 427-5228 or www.redearth.org.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman. For more on the Red Earth Festival, click here.
BAM column: Nationally known artist-educator named 2011 Red Earth Honored One
Oklahoma native Ruthe Blalock Jones considers the festival’s master visual artist designation “a lifetime achievement award.”
Ruthe Blalock Jones doesn’t recall ever aspiring to become an artist: That’s just what she always was.
“I remember as a child, I never said ‘I’m going to be an artist’ or ‘When I grow up I will be,’ I always said, ‘I am.’ I never thought that was unusual, but I guess it was,” Jones said in a phone interview from her Muskogee home.
If she wasn’t painting from the time she was old enough to grasp a brush, she came pretty close. Jones was first recognized for her work at the age of 15, when she received an honorable mention at an annual juried painting competition at Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum. She sold her award-winning painting for $25 to acclaimed Creek-Pawnee artist and teacher Acee Blue Eagle.
From that impressive first professional sale, Jones, who will turn 72 on Wednesday, has crafted a storied career as a nationally known American Indian artist, sought-after authority on the traditional painting style she favors and a respected arts educator.
This weekend, the Claremore-born artist, who is of Delaware, Shawnee and Peoria heritage, will be lauded as the 2011 Red Earth Honored One during the 25th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival. The popular event will bring its famed dance competition, art market, youth activities, parade, Red Earth Run and special anniversary festivities Friday-Sunday to the Cox Convention Center and the surrounding downtown area.
The Honored One designation is given annually to a master visual artist who has made significant contributions to American Indian art. In nominating Jones, Mary Jo Watson, director of the University of Oklahoma’s School of Art and Art History, praised this year’s Honored One for dedicating her life to educating artists and creating art.
“Ruthe’s art speaks volumes about the pride of her tribal relationships. … She pays
acute attention to authenticity in detail of dress and the ceremonial aspects of traditional tribal life, and some of her paintings could easily be her childhood recollections,” Watson wrote. “She truly is a positive role model and ambassador of arts. Ruthe has many talents maybe others are not aware. She is a champion hoop dancer, war dancer and excellent cook.”
Growing up along the Spring River in the Quapaw area and raised with the Shawnee traditions, Jones was 10 when she began her formal art training as a student of renowned Oklahoma painter Charles Banks Wilson. She attended local schools until her fateful sale to Blue Eagle. On his recommendation, she was able to attend high school at Bacone College in Muskogee on an art scholarship.
She earned her associate’s degree from Bacone in 1970, her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Tulsa in 1972 and her master’s in arts education in 1989 from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. In 1979, she began teaching art at Bacone; she retired a year ago as director of art at her alma mater.
Throughout her long tenure as an educator, Jones continued to create her own artwork in a variety of media, including oil, ink, acrylic, crayon and watercolor. She competed in the first Red Earth in 1987 and entered the festival most years, winning the Grand Award for Best of Show and serving as a judge in the dance and art contests along the way.
“I always tried to keep something going because when I was coming up, I was fortunate to have professors who were working artists. And I wanted that for my students. I wanted them to see that I was working all the time,” Jones said.
She continues to make art in what is known as the traditional style, creating flat paintings that depict American Indians in customary dress and activities.
“Most of the young people no longer paint in that style, and most of them have kind of considered it cliché … but it’s part of the history. It’s how Oklahoma Indian artists came to be established. All of the Indian artists are on the shoulders of those early people who practiced this style which comes out of the ledge style, then (was popularized) with the Kiowa Five at the University of Oklahoma and Dr. (Oscar) Jacobson,” she said.
“I have great respect for those people who pioneered it, like Dick West and Blackbear Bosin and Blue Eagle.”
The painting she sold to Blue Eagle as a teen now is part of his collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; her work also is included in the nearby Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
She also has become respected as a pioneering American Indian artist, winning an Oklahoma Governor’s Arts and Education Award in 1993, earning a spot in the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995 and receiving the Dick West Award in 2000 from Bacone College. She garnered the Spirit of the Heard Award in 2008 at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Ariz., and in January, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed her to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
As the Red Earth Honored One, she joins the ranks of other acclaimed Oklahomans such as Jereldine Redcorn, Archie Blackowl and Enoch Kelly Haney.
“Oklahoma Indian artists consider it like a lifetime achievement award,” she said. “That’s certainly what I look at it as … and I’m just blown away to be in that line of all of those illustrious people who have preceded me.”
For more information, call 427-5228 or go to www.redearth.org.