The Heard Indian Fair and Market is a long-standing nationally recognized event. The event is the second largest market of its kind in the country. Featuring more than 600 Native artists including well established and acclaimed talents along with a new and upcoming generation. It’s a place for artists, collectors and the curious to gather, talk and, hopefully go home with an authentic treasure.
Scottsdale Art Walk—Heard Indian Fair and Market Weekend
I arrived in town earlier in the week because, for me, the events start in Scottsdale on the Thursday before the Heard event weekend. I checked in to the beautiful Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, a quick drive away from downtown Scottsdale.
Back at the Heard, they had been preparing for the big event with a months-long lecture series on Native American art and artists and, on Friday evening, after the judging, they would host the The Heard Indian Fair and Market Best of Show Reception.
With many artists already in town, especially those who are represented by Scottsdale galleries, the Thursday evening Art Walk is something I look forward to. I met friends, Paula Baxter and Barry Katzen, authors of books on Native American jewelry for dinner in a Scottsdale suburb. It was then a quick jaunt to Old Town Scottsdale where the magic was already happening. Strings of lights and the moon glowed against the dark sky. In the distance we heard Native drummers.
We made our way to River Trading Post where the drumming circle was taking place. We joined a crowd of Native art aficionados inside where quite a few nationally recognized Native artists were there to greet us and show us their latest art and jewelry. Cliff Fragua (Pueblo) was there with his small and large stone carvings.
We stopped to chat with young artist Zach Ben (Navajo) and admire his contemporary sand paintings. He was eager to talk about the cultural significance of his paintings.
And then it was off down the street stopping in galleries known to carry quality authentic Native art, chatting with artists and listening to street musicians. I came upon glass artist Ira Lujan (Taos Pueblo) blowing glass for visitors. I had met him in Santa Fe and always enjoy watching him work.
Saturday at the Heard Indian Fair and Market
It was a crisp desert morning as artists made their way from the parking lots surrounding the Heard Museum to the Heard Guild Indian Fair and Market. As they set up their pottery, jewelry and paintings the sun warmed the white tents and the smell of fry bread wafted into the air.
As a journalist on assignment, I was afforded early entry into the market, even before the Heard members. One of the first families I ran into was the Nahohai family from Zuni. Milford was there with his nephew Jaycee who was displaying his owl pottery.
Milford, a world-renowned potter, said he was beginning to get back into pottery-making but deferred the attention to Jaycee and explained that his nephew was breaking new ground with his new style of owls, based on tradition but with a modern twist. Milford shared, “He’s developing new colors and glazes.” I especially liked the micaceous slip that made the owls glimmer in the light.
I was drawn to the Navajo Spirit Fashion House booth as I remembered seeing Virginia Yazzie – Ballenger’s shop in Gallup. It was Inter-tribal Ceremonial time and her shop was bustling with activity. Virginia was selling beautiful traditional women’s clothing with a contemporary twist at the Heard market.
Also sighted as I made my rounds at the Heard Indian Fair and Market was Michael Roanhorse who I knew from many visits to the Santa Fe Indian Market. Michael showed me his amazing contemporary works in gold.
Zuni potter Noreen Simplicio held up her huge traditional pot for me to photograph. She had just sold her award-winning pot with little frogs adorning it. She is known for her detail work and shared that she has been invited to join other artists on a trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. later this year.
I spent the day alternating between the tents of artists, viewing the artist demonstrations and taking in the color and pageantry of the Cultural Performances. The Heard Indian Fair and Market has so much to offer, consider spending the majority of the day.
Art is a Family Affair at the Heard Indian Fair and Market
Monty Claw (Navajo) is known for his tufa cast work. His rugged yet beautiful jewelry is prized by collectors. This year he was joined by his 16 year-old daughter, Elle Monique Claw, who displayed her paintings. She graciously explained the significance of one of her large pieces and showed me new work she was doing right there in the booth.
The Claw family is not unusual. Throughout the event, I saw members of the younger generation learning from their elders and bringing stunning pieces of art to the show. You’ll find contemporary jewelry and art as well as the traditional.
Finding Native Art and Artists at their Homes and Studios
The work, the notoriety and the sales do not stop after the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market. Artists return home and make their work available from their studios, homes, shops and local galleries across the United States.
Gallup, an hours drive from Albuquerque, NM, is known as the “Indian Jewelry Capital of the World” and for this reason, it is a popular stop for collectors. There are reputable traders and ways to visit the studios of some artists.
At nearby Zuni Pueblo they hold Art Walks. Local artists open their workshops and share their way of life. Visitors are invited into the artists’ studios where they are able to see works in process, view demonstrations, and buy original work directly from the artists. Information on Zuni Art Walks is available at the Visitors Center 505.782.7239.
Gallup’s popular Inter-tribal Ceremonial takes place each August. It is yet another opportunity to visit with Gallup artists, see award-winning art on display and purchase collector’s level jewelry and art. There are many festivities associated with the event including parades and a rodeo.
In Arizona, you can visit the Hopi Mesas and follow their Hopi Arts Trail. The Hopi Arts Trail artists and galleries are spread across twelve villages on the three mesas. You’ll find katsinas, basketry, pottery-making, jewelry and silverwork. A great place to stay when following the trail is the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites adjacent to Tuba City.
The very best way to tour Hopi for the first time is with a tour guide who is certified by the Hopi Tribe. These guides are exceptionally knowledgeable about the traditions and culture of the Hopi. They know the Katsina carvers, basket makers, silversmiths and other artists and can introduce visitors to the artists and explain the significance of the art.
Last but not least, a visit to Santa Fe in August for Indian Market is an amazing experience where you can visit with artists who bring their wares to Santa Fe for this huge event. Other related events fill the galleries and streets for a week preceding the SWAIA Indian Market.
There is nothing like visiting the artists from the Heard Museum Indian Market in the surroundings that have inspired their work. The southwestern skies, the vast land with stunning rock formations and the everyday life of the artists are depicted in their work.
When You Go to the Heard Indian Fair and Market
The first weekend each March, the Heard Museum in central Phoenix hosts the Indian Fair and Market. In fact, this year’s market was the 60th.
This year the market featured more than 600 Native artists including well established and acclaimed talents along with a new and upcoming generation. The market attracts over 10,000 guests and has become a gathering place for art lovers and the community to celebrate and learn about Native art and culture.
Be sure and go early for the best selection (expect a line as Heard members enter first) and because it gets hot later in the day.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with entry to the event for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.