A Day for Native American Arts

Last chance. Today is the final day of the American Indian Festival and Market at Old Pasadena's Central Park. Artists from New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and New York have come to Pasadena to offer the largest and most significant exhibition of Native American arts and crafts, story telling, cuisine, music and dance ever seen in Southern California.

Those familiar with the renowned Indian Market, in Santa Fe, N.M., will recognize many of the artists whose works are on display, like Wanda Aragon, Benjamin Harjo, Michael Horse and Laura Courtney.

This unique festival documents cultures that have not always been properly appreciated or understood. Native American art draws upon centuries of tradition and myths. Its view of the world and reality is often abstracted, a jagged line symbolizing lightning.

The contemporary art is diverse and full of vitality, a synthesis of the new and the old. Take, for example, the potter Aragon, who proudly preserves her people's traditions. Her polychromatic pottery in abstract and realistic shapes comes in a direct line from the art of her great-great-grandmother. What varies is the result of experimentation with colors.

Emerging from the paintings, woodblock prints and lithographs of Harjo are the legends of the Seminole-Shawnee tribes. Laura Courtney of Alhambra is a Makah drum maker who depicts women of tribal legends.

This is a collaborative project between the city and groups interested in Native American art. A special goal is to attract children, who can participate in on-site programs designed to teach about Native American ways.

Visitors young or old are likely to come away from the Old Pasadena festival with a new sense of the cultures that spanned this continent for ages before the first European eyes beheld it.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World