Litchfield Park, AZ
This story was featured in the January 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Each year on the west side of Phoenix, the small community of Litchfield Park comes alive with Native American art, culture, and history as the town hosts its invitational Native American Arts Festival called The Gathering. Now in its 22nd year, the festival features more than 100 Native American artists selling a wide variety of traditional and contemporary works, from basketry and drums to paintings and sculpture. Throughout the weekend, award-winning entertainers perform.
The theme for the 2014 festival is Carving Traditions. Events begin on Friday, January 10, with presentations on carving symbolism and traditions in Native work. Also on Friday is an artists’ reception during which the winners of the juried artwork competition are announced. Categories include beadwork, traditional kachina carving, contemporary kachina carving, painting, and traditional pottery. The public can view the winning artworks and meet the artists in attendance.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Throughout the weekend, artists will be demonstrating everything from arrow carving to contemporary jewelry making.
Sonny Culbreth, Litchfield Park assistant city manager, says the festival is called The Gathering because it is the coming together of nations. Tribes from all over America are represented, including Apache, Northern Ute, Navajo, Choctaw, Cherokee, Hopi, Jemez Pueblo, Mohawk, and Muscogee.
Last year an educational and cultural pavilion was added to the festival and will return this year. After entertainers and demonstrators have finished their performances, they go to the center and answer questions from interested visitors. “We decided we wanted people to have a cultural experience, to create memories,” Culbreth says. “Not many people get to talk to a hoop dancer and hear how he learned from his family and how he’s passing it down to his children. We are really trying to create an experience.” —Laura Rintala
Featured in the January 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art January 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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