This weekend is Indian Market, where the best of the best Native American artists gather to compete for prizes, display their creative talents, and share their traditions and cultures with the world. Indian Market is one of, if not the, premier showcase of Native American art throughout the world.
My mother and father always loved to travel to Santa Fe and dive into the flurry of activities during Indian Market. After a while, when they retired, they bought a small garden home in Santa Fe so they could spend more time with their Native American artist friends.
One story that Mom loved to tell was about her friends Ivan and Rita Lewis. They were from the Cochiti pueblo, and were quite well known for their storytellers. But, as is so typical with talented artists, that was not the only area of their work. Ivan briefly engaged in making pottery, and I am pleased to have the first bowl that he ever made. My brother, Jamie, has another pot that Ivan made, and with it the ribbon that Ivan won with that pot at Indian Market. My sister Maggie has a lovely large nacimiento set that Rita and Ivan made, as they both moved into executing characters. I also have three of Rita’s storytellers, and they are exquisite. Recently I was able to add one more of Rita’s storytellers to the Gallery.
But the core of the story is the relationship that Mom and Dad had with Ivan and Rita. Over the years, they got to know the other family quite well, and Mom and Dad counted Ivan and Rita as among their very best friends. One day, about a week before Indian Market, Mom got a knock on the door of their very tiny garden house. Did I mention how tiny it was? Mom went to the door, and it was Ivan and Rita. They cheerfully greeted Mom, and announced that they were here for Indian Market. So of course Mom invited them in, and they happily stayed with Mom and Dad through the completion of Indian Market activities. Over the years, Mom and Dad made a point of spending lots of time with them before Indian Market began.
And that is how their relationship went over the years. Drop by, say hello, maybe stay for a while, and build great memories.
Sadly, all great things must eventually come to an end, and a few years later Mom and Dad were honored to be invited to Rita’s funeral, where the family followed Native American tradition and smashed one of Rita’s best pots on her grave. A few years later, Mom followed Rita to the hereafter, and Dad did exactly what Mom had asked him to do – smash one of her best pots on Mom’s grave, honoring the Native American traditions she loved so much.
I think of Mom’s story every time I sit in my office and look at the Ivan and Rita Lewis storytellers. It isn’t about the shaping of the clay, or the careful strokes of paint. It is about the years of time that Mom and Dad had with their wonderful friends. As I prepare to wade through the crowds at this year’s Indian Market, I think I will have Ivan and Rita perched on one shoulder, and Mom and Dad perched on the other. And of course, Michael following behind with the bags of my new treasures. We will be visiting many of our Native American artist friends during Indian Market, renewing old ties and forging new ones. And I am sure I will have lots of fun stories to write when I get back.