We just returned from the 2019 Heard Museum Fair and Market, held for the past 61 years at the Heard Museum in Scottsdale. With over 600 artists participating, it is the second largest Indian market in the United States, only behind SWAIA’s Santa Fe Indian Market. It is always fun battling the opening of baseball’s Spring Training in and around Phoenix, with a number of teams playing in the Cactus league and their fans filling the hotels. But the weather is wonderful, and short sleeves and sun hats were the rule for the weekend.
This fair is notable for several reasons. It is completely enclosed within the Heard Museum grounds, making it a very intimate and comfortable setting. It is the kickoff to the spring season, allowing artists to exhibit all of the works they have created over the dreary winter. And, as an internationally recognized, juried show, it attracts the top Native American artists from North America.
Each year, the Museum holds an artist reception and silent auction on Friday night, accompanied by a look but don’t touch viewing of all the award-winning submissions. Crafty collectors often plot their purchase strategies on Friday night, and rush to the specific artist’s booth early on Saturday morning when the gates open to snag that piece of art and accompanying ribbon. Yes, we tried that this year, but unfortunately some faster people beat us to the two booths we had selected.
The Fair and Market has a beautiful amphitheater as part of the grounds, and they have almost continuous dances, music, and other talent demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday. There are numerous food vendors located near the two entries, and ample covered seating for those who wish to dine. The Café has a limited menu, but it is always nice to grab a table and a delicious beverage with lunch.
We had a chance to see Bille Hogarth at his book signing, promoting his new fourth edition of Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks. The Museum Shop is always crowded, often with artist demonstrations taking place. In addition, the central plaza has a series of tents for artist demonstrations throughout the weekend, where we saw master carver Todd Westika from Zuni Pueblo demonstrating his skill. If you have ever wondered how the rugs and baskets are painstakingly created, this is always a great opportunity to observe and ask questions. Typically, those who demonstrate are masters in their area and are very willing to share their knowledge.
This year, we sensed a higher level of energy at the Heard than in the past few years. Both artists and attendees were more buoyant and excited about the show, and the vibe seemed to be more elevated. We are certainly hopeful this is a sign of a renewal of interest in Native American art, which has been lagging a bit for the past few years.
A small sidebar that needs to be mentioned is the Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) silent auction that takes place across the street from the Heard Museum on the Friday night when the Heard artist reception takes place. Michael and I managed to slip out of the artist reception a bit early and go across the street, and we were quite impressed with the quantity and quality of art that was donated by Hopi artists to help raise funds for Hopi scholarships. We acquired a couple of striking originals from a young Hopi painter, Kyle Secakuku. We hope to see more of his work in the future, as his ability to convey motion through his work is very nice. Admission to the silent auction was free, and they had complimentary refreshments, plenty of seating, and live entertainment in the form of dances and music to create a lovely spirit of the Hopi Nation.
Our time at the Heard Museum Fair and Market was all too short, and we soon had to gather our new treasures (coming soon to the Gallery) and head off for more adventures on our way back to Texas.