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A Get-Acquainted Session

Southwest Museum, in its new satellite space, hosts a marketplace introducing visitors to Indian culture.


The Southwest Museum is bringing more than just Native American art to its new space at LACMA West, adjacent to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This weekend, dream catchers, colorful costumes and a plethora of activity will attract the attention of motorists driving along Fairfax Avenue at Wilshire Boulevard.

On Saturday and Sunday, about 150 artists' booths will be interspersed with entertainers and activities, basket vendors, weavers, painters and craft demonstrations in the eighth annual Intertribal Marketplace.

Sampling the food, art, music and dance of Native Americans is a fun way to spend a weekend; the event is also an open invitation to learn about and understand indigenous people.

"It's amazing to me that some kids are surprised to find out Indians are still alive," said Michael Horse, artist-in-residence at the Southwest Museum and an event participant.

California has one of the largest urban Indian populations in the country, yet Horse (part Zuni, Yakui and Mescalero Apache) said the children he encounters through school programs know little of Native American culture. That's why an event such as the Intertribal Marketplace offers more than just a place to display and sell art. On both days, the public is invited to watch Native American singers, storytellers and dancers who eagerly share their sacred traditions.

"It's hard to experience other people's culture without listening to their music, tasting their food, experiencing their art and hearing their stories," said Barbara Arvi, director of education at the Southwest Museum.

The education department took charge of planning the 1998 marketplace, because the curatorial staff has been preoccupied with readying the new satellite facility, which opened Oct. 25. Hence, more attention than usual is paid to education, emphasizing the diversity in the Native American community and the significance of such things as clothing and artwork.

The marketplace emphasizes southern coastal tribes, Arvi said, because little is known about these groups, which include the Luesenos, Chumash, Gabrielinos and Diegenos.

More than a dozen southern coastal tribes are represented in the entertainment both days, including the Kumeyaay Birdsingers, the Luiseno dancers and, a favorite with kids, hoop dancers. Storytellers include mime Abel Silvas and puppeteer Tchin.

Craft demonstrations are scheduled throughout the grounds and in the museum store. Afterward, children can hunker down in the designated craft area and attempt to replicate the handiwork, from corn necklaces to clay molds to weaving.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., Rick and Susie Bell of Colorado will host a slide show of Navajo folk art, and spectators can watch Canadian Indian artist Brad McDonald create an alabaster sculpture that he plans to donate to the Southwest Museum.

Indoors, check out the satellite facility's inaugural exhibit, "Common Threads: Pueblo and Navajo Textiles in the Southwest Museum," along with a store that showcases the work of contemporary Native American artists.

"The [original] Southwest Museum is a wonderful place, a wonderful building, but a lot of people don't go in," Horse said. "This [satellite location] is going to open up and give exposure to some of the finest work in the country."


Intertribal Marketplace, Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. LACMA West, 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. $8; seniors and students, $6; 5 and younger, free. Children's craft fair, $2. (323) 221-2164, Ext. 221.

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