FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2015
the New Mexico History Museum
Start growing your collection of Native art at the Young Native Artists Show & Sale, July 4 and 5, in the Palace Courtyard from 9 am to 4 pm. Children and grandchildren of artists belonging to the Native American Artisans Program will show off their latest works of art, learn a few tricks of the customer-service trade, and potentially launch their careers.
See the hand-crafted artwork, purchase refreshments, and strike up a conversation or two with artists who are growing and continuing to learn their craft. Admission is free through the Palace Courtyard’s Blue Gate on Lincoln Avenue, south of the New Mexico History Museum’s main entrance.
The Native American Artisans Program (commonly called "the Portal Program") is overseen by the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors. Its members adhere to rules regarding authenticity and traditional materials. All of their work is handmade. Twice a year, their offsprings’ work is featured, providing them an opportunity to learn from their parents and grandparents and to continue the cultural economic development supported by their art.
Alvin Van Fleet was once one of the kids selling in the twice-a-year shows. Now he makes silver and copper jewelry that he sells under the Palace Portal. He believes so strongly in this event that he’s helping to organize it even though he doesn’t have children of his own to participate in it. “The children’s show helps the kids learn how to deal with money and how to continue the tradition their parents are continuing—beadwork, silverwork, pottery,” he said. “That’s how the next generation learns.”
Visitors to the show—and to the portal program—come from all over the world, so participants get a chance to interact with a wide variety of people. Those who get hooked will have a toehold in gaining future acceptance into the portal program. Others may well decide the artist’s life isn’t for them. “They’re kids,” Van Fleet said, laughing. “Their minds are going all over the place.”
The museum oversees the Portal Program to help sustain traditional arts and to encourage relationships between artists and patrons. The 900+ participants in the program represent 21 tribes and pueblos in New Mexico. They sell their goods nearly every day of the year along the south side of the Palace of the Governors, providing visitors with an opportunity to interact with the artists and learn more about their lives. For our youngest visitors, that relationship may be more easily built when the artist is another child.
“So bring the family,” Van Fleet said. “Art is for everybody.”