Southwestern artists make annual trip to Haskell Indian Art Market
photo by: Elvyn Jones
As he sat at behind a table filled with his animal carvings Saturday in a tent on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus, artist Joseph Begay, of Albuquerque, N.M., said he was part of an annual September migration from the American Southwest to Lawrence.
“This is the week New Mexico and Arizona come to Kansas,” he said of the annual Haskell Indian Art Market weekend. “I love the people. I’ve built up a clientele.”
He has made the annual trek to Lawrence for 16 of the 30 annual art markets, Begay said. It is one of six shows he attends each year to sell the animal carvings he sculpts from marble. He recognizes many of the other vendors from his hometown or other shows, he said.
Stephanie Fernando, a secretary in the Haskell facilities department who coordinates the show, said there were 133 vendors of original, handcrafted art filling the booths at the university’s powwow grounds and in the three large tents just to the east. She said Begay was correct in asserting that most of the artists were from New Mexico or Arizona, but this year’s art market also attracted vendors from Alaska, California, Oklahoma and South Dakota, she said.
Like Begay, many artists return year after year, Fernando said. They return because they have success, but they also like to support Haskell student organizations that benefit from the event’s concession stands, and enjoy the student performances of Native American dance styles.
“I think they like to support the students,” she said. “This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the student organizations.”
photo by: Elvyn Jones
It was the seventh Haskell show for the husband-and-wife team of Roxanne Seoutewa and Carlos Laate, of Zuni, N.M. Laate said he makes clay pottery in traditional Zuni Pueblo style, and his wife crafts jewelry.
“I was taught by my grandmother,” he said. “She and my aunt were traditional Zuni artists who taught pottery to high school students. After I got out of the military, I tried carving and jewelry, but this is what stuck.”
The annual Lawrence excursion is an extended family affair, Laate said. His sister and his wife’s brother make the trip with them to vend their art at Haskell.
It’s not only artists who travel for the show. Lisa Pipkin said she and two friends drove from Wichita for the show.
“One of my friends was just down in New Mexico and learned about it,” she said. “I bought two earrings and a necklace. I wasn’t going to come all this way and not buy anything.”
People buy as well as look at the show, said Brenda Boyd, a Navajo artist from Cuba, N.M., who crafts contemporary silver jewelry. That business is only one of three reasons she returned to the art market for the fifth straight year.
“I like Kansas,” she said. “Coming to Lawrence is like a vacation for me. I can do some business, and I can spend some time with friends here in town.”
As the show wound down Saturday, Boyd was well on her way to realizing her goal of selling all the pieces she brought to Lawrence. She would help other artists reduce their inventory, too, she said.
“Tomorrow, I’ll walk around and see what I like,” she said. “I will buy something or trade for it if I have anything left.”
The art market will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday on the Haskell campus.