I work in an art gallery on Whiskey Row, and am struck by how many customers who have just moved here from someplace else come in looking for art to decorate their new homes. Most want to decorate in a Western or a Native American style. We have many artists here in Prescott who draw inspiration from our cowboy/frontier heritage and Native American imagery, but very few actual Native American artists whose work is available for us to see.
Hopi artist Fil (Yoimasa) Kewanyama joined the ‘Tis Gallery board of directors in 2009. Invited to put together a show of Hopi art in 2010, Fil curated the first show, which was a success, but it did not give recognition to other tribes that are also in our immediate area. So after a couple of Hopi shows, the gallery staff and Fil decided to advertise to bring in artists from other tribes as well, and renamed the exhibit Journeys in Spirit.
The first exhibit was such a huge success that the first artist reception had to be extended for about an hour to allow visitors to stay a little longer. Today Native American art appreciators and collectors near and far look forward every year to see the new JIS show every May and June.
Today Journeys in Spirit features artists from the Hopi, Yavapai Prescott, Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muskogee Creek, Comanche, Yaqui and Ojibwa tribes.
Fil was most interested in promoting other Native American artists, especially those who are just starting out and wanting to exhibit their works. One of the primary missions of Journeys In Spirit is to help the up-and-coming, giving the exhibit a nice mixture of work from new and experienced artists.
Sometimes artists have no means to deliver their art to the 'Tis Art Center and Gallery, so Fil goes on the road to link up with these artists and bring their works to Prescott for exhibit, returning it after the show. For him this is a real labor of love.
Some artists who will have works in this year’s exhibition:
Kay Huston, Cherokee, beadwork
Deb Vaughn, Navajo, mixed media
Emma Dineh, Comanche, acrylics
Darance Chimerca, Hopi, katsina dolls
Vida Blackwater, Navajo, acrylics
Duane Tawahongva, Hopi, jewelry
To learn more about the annual Journeys in Spirit show, including an excellent walkthrough video tour of last year’s work, visit Tisartgallery.com and click on Journeys in Spirit. The opening reception happens on Friday May 27 at the ’Tis Gallery on Cortez St., 5-8pm.