Native American artists from the Four Corners region will visit Mesa Verde National Park on Labor Day weekend for the second annual Mesa Verde Art and Culture Fair.
About a dozen painters, sculptors, silversmiths and weavers will show their work at the outdoor fair, which will be located in the picnic area near the ticketing office at the park entrance. Free to all park visitors, it will feature Hopi dances and art demonstrations throughout the day on Sept. 2 and 3. The event is sponsored by a partnership between the Navajo Artists Technology Innovation and Vision Enterprises (or NATIVE) Project, a federally funded organization that supports Native arts and crafts businesses, and Four Corners Region Geotourism.
Organizer Michael Billie said the event would be a “small, intimate show” that he hoped would bring more awareness to Native artists and their work. He said most of the artists who have signed up come from New Mexico and are members of the Navajo, Hopi or Zuni tribes. But even though most of them will have to travel a long way to get there, he said Mesa Verde is the perfect venue for the art fair.
“It’s a very international tourist attraction,” he said. “They get a lot of traffic, especially during the holidays.”
Last year, he said, the fair saw a large turnout from artists and visitors. He expects fewer artists this year, since the NATIVE Project has started charging them $100 per booth to cover the cost of food, lodging and overnight security at Mesa Verde. Last year, there was no booth fee.
“It’s the end of the grant year, and lodging and security ... it really eats up our budget,” he said.
But Billie still expects the fair to draw plenty of visitors. Last year, he said, most of the art on display was sold by the end of the fair, and he expects similar success this year.
One of the most well-known artists at the fair will be Anthony Chee Emerson, a Navajo painter whose work has been displayed at several galleries throughout the Southwest, including his own Emerson Gallery in Farmington.
Throughout the weekend, artists will give live demonstrations of their crafts, which Billie said he hoped would add an “educational” element to the event. National parks and other Four Corners destinations will also have booths at the fair with information for tourists. Both nights of the fair will end with a traditional Hopi dance by a father-son team from New Mexico.
The fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.