Friday, November 14, 2008

TONIGHT! I'm in Santa Fe! If you're in Santa Fe, you should come!

NATIVE UNDERGROUND 2008Nov. 14 Panel Discussion Features Artists who put Native Traditions on Fast Forward Santa Fe, N.M.— Emerging Native artists who put their cultural traditions on fast forward to create progressive new statements in Native art will share their work and their unique artistic points of view during “Native Underground 2008: Emerging Artists,” a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Friday, November 14, at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture on Museum Hill. The event is sponsored by Avant Garde, the young members’ group of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, with support from the Santa Fe Reporter. Admission is free for students and Avant Garde members; $5 for others.

An all-ages reception with refreshments will follow. The panel discussion, moderated by Tony Chavarria, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Curator of Ethnology, features mixed media artist Rory Erler Wakemup, aerosol artist Jak, jeweler Jacqueline Smith, painter/illustrator Micah Wesley (also known as WereWulf), photographer/emerging film maker Eve-Lauryn LaFountain and memoirist, playwright, poet, scholar, and Indigenous peoples advocate Sara Marie Ortiz. “This group of young artists truly represents the progressive Native art movement of tomorrow,” says Avant Garde Steering Committee Member and Native jeweler David Gaussion. “These artists preserve their traditional values, yet constantly push their work forward.” While the participating artists may be considered as up-and-comers among the Santa Fe art establishment, they represent the cutting edge in the Native art scene. They include:

Mixed media artist Rory Erler Wakemup works in resin, motorcycle parts, and sometimes, toxic materials. His beautiful, highly industrial pieces demonstrate how Earth’s natural elements can endure even after years of toxic treatment by human beings. While his work may not fit stereotypes of Native art, Erler Wakemup believes that anything a Native artist creates is Native art. “If you want stereotypical Indian art (the End of the Trail, or whatever fits in that category) there are plenty of Made in China artifacts you can get for cheap,” he says. Aerosol artist Jak makes his artistic mark with spray cans. The self-described “live artist” is known for his graffiti-style commentaries on contemporary Native life. “I find a wall as another canvas to paint. I enjoy variety,” Jak says. “Not only can a wall be personal, it has the ability to be as public as you want it to be, which creates a larger circle of dialogue and critical analysis.” Jak’s paintings have been exhibited in Santa Fe, Denver and Point Arena, California.

Jeweler Jacqueline Smith, a senior at the Institute of American Indian Arts, creates jewelry that combines organic, cast elements like seedpods or cedar pieces with such smooth, shiny materials as black pearls or synthetic diamonds. She uses a wide variety of metals in her work to explore various finishes and colors. Painter Micah “WereWulf” Wesley’s influences run the gamut from pop culture icons to graffiti. The self-described “lowbrow” artist has exhibited his work in at least 15 shows and currently has work at Pop Gallery in Santa Fe.

Photographer/Filmmaker Eve-Lauryn LaFountain recently moved to LA after participating in the Disney/ABC Television and Film Workshop at IAIA. She returns to Santa Fe to talk about her photography, for which she has already won many awards (including most recently at the Santa Fe Indian Market) and her latest film Lumbini Park, which will screen at this year's American Indian Film Festival.

Memoirist, playwright, poet, scholar and Indigenous peoples advocate Sara Marie Ortiz of Acoma Pueblo is a 2006 graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts who currently is pursuing her MFA in creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. She is the recipient of several literary awards, among them the Truman Capote literary fellowship. Among her published works of creative nonfiction is the Creation Story, published in Sovereign Bones: New Native American Writing (Nation Books) and Letters from Young Activists (Nation Books). Her new works of poetry will soon appear in The Kenyon Review and an upcoming issue of Sentence, the premiere literary journal of the prose poem in 2009.

Now in its third year, Avant Garde’s Native Underground had been an important step in the careers of other emerging Native artists whose work continues to draw attention. Of the artists who participated in the 2006 event: Ira Lujan received a fellowship from the Southwestern Association of Indian Affairs and awards at Indian Market; Jolene Nenibah Yazzie is featured in the Comic Art Indigene exhibit currently at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture; Hoke Skenadore’s work is currently featured at the Heard Museum in Phoenix; and Wayne Nez Gaussion was featured in the Young Jewelers: Forging a Future exhibit at the Heard Museum.

2007 Native Underground artists have also made their mark: Marla Allison received an award for innovation at Indian Market; Jared Chavez was featured in the Young Jewelers: Forging a Future exhibit at the Heard Museum; Dyani Reynolds Whitehawk’s work is now carried at Legends Gallery in Santa Fe; and April Holder has work in the Bare Nation exhibit in the sculpture garden at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Avant Garde’s mission is to engage a younger audience in New Mexico’s museums in a fun and educational way. Avant Garde also promotes and supports young and emerging artists in New Mexico and beyond. Avant Garde is free to current Museum of New Mexico Foundation members, ages 21 to 45. Call 505-982-6366, ext. 100, or visit to join. For information about Native Underground, call Ann Scheflen at 505-982-6366, ext. 108, or visit For information about how to join the Museum of New Mexico Foundation,visit or call 505.982.6366, ext. 108.* * *