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Thoughts on the June Heat, Art Markets, Art Events, Ben Harjo Jr., and the Kingdom of Hyrule!

It feels like Summer here in Oklahoma with the temps starting to reach up over 100 degrees. When I get to my SUV I feel like I am melting and steaming. The humidity makes it feel worse. But we have had some crazy storms here recently with strong wind gust fronts. Not exactly tornados but just 50mph hour wind gusts before the actual storms hits, and it was bad over the weekend and knocked out power lines. We have some of the most destructive and powerful storms here in Oklahoma, but they are beautiful, even when they are dark and scary at times. So, if you come through our area, please be cautious and keep an eye on that weather radar. Despite the melting heat, I have mostly been indoors, also because it seems like all the biting insects are out in full force. Feeling all itchy over here from several bites, even though I would only be outside for a short period… They sure love my precious blood!


Regarding the art world, I attended several events since I last posted. I attended the Red Earth Festival which was held up at the Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum the first weekend in June. It was good to see several artist friends, and several people I knew that swung by. Everything went smoothly with the loading of artwork and booth set up, but regarding sales it was not to good, at least for me. I know some artist did well, but a lot of other artists did not. It’s a little frustrating for me, since my goal for most markets are to at least make my booth fee back and maybe hotel if I book one, thankfully I didn’t have to this time. The last few art markets I have went to, have been slow, at least for me. And I know it could be several possibilities such as the economic depression we are all feeling affect by. Many individuals may not have the financial ability to purchase some of my bigger works at this time.


I have seen how much it is for groceries and essentials at the stores. Josh and I barely fill up our cart and its already passing the $150 mark. Josh and I shop for more organic or grass-fed food products and try to stay away from processed food as much as possible. I know it’s not that way for most families since processed foods are cheaper, and you have a family to feed. Organic food is much more expensive, and it hits our wallets harder, but we are thinking of our health in the long run, as we also don’t want to pay for medical bills down the road of life. We do understand counting pennies and keeping track of what we spend to stay ahead of the curb, as we also pay down student loans, and other debts we have. I feel for many of the families and individuals as they struggle through this hardship. But remember to take some time for yourself. When I struggle, I always turn to the Creator, Gitchi-Manitou, and the Holy People, and ask for their guidance, and pray that they always take care of us. And so far, they have answered most of my prayers. If we can take care of our bills, I feel much better, and these sacred beings I know had their hand in this, as well as my family and ancestors that have gone on! I know they are all with me in everything I do in both the brightest and darkest parts of life.


This may sound like me complaining but I feel as if it’s being transparent which is something I always appreciate myself. The last year has been tough for art markets, at least for me as an artist. I have been thinking I may take a step back and just focus on building up my body of work, work on more commissions, and work on my online artist store. If you don’t know art markets take a lot to do and can be expensive. As artist we usually pay for our booth, and from what I have paid in the past can range from $50 - $700 for a 10” x 10”. We must pay for gas to travel there, and sometimes hotel and food expenses. Usually if I can cover all these things, and make some pocket change I feel I did good. But the last few markets I have barely covered my booth fee, or only made half back. Some may say it’s the name of the game, and part of that is true, but I grew up around some Native artist and businesswomen that also created and sold Native American art, and that was their main income, and if a market was not providing that income, they would seek out new venues. And looking at the financial side of my art making I may need to make some adjustments so I can continue to nurture and grow that part of my artwork. Most of the revenue I get from my artwork goes right back into my art, so it can fund itself, but that hasn't been the case this last year with lower sales.


Regarding the future of art markets, I may be selective and only do one or two a year. Also, with my new position at the University of Oklahoma, that has been keeping me busy, but I love it so far. There is a lot of challenges to this new area I am in, and I believe it will help me grow further in my managing and administrative knowledge. Some may not know but I enjoy a good excel spreadsheet, and documents being organized and tidy. Also, I have some other personal and family matters that will be impacting me with big changes here in the future. Things I must figure out on my own and with my loved ones.


Things feel a little tough in the world but, I have had a lot of studio time the last few weeks. I LOVE BEING IN THE STUDIO with the smell of the paint, and all my art tables full of works in progress. I am getting ready for Santa Fe Indian Market and want to bring as much as I can to fit in my 5’ x 10’ booth. Just this week I finally purchased and received those nice artist panels, even though they cost me an arm and leg, but it will make my booth so much more space efficient and professional looking. If you are wondering where I got them, I ordered them from Armstrong Products from Guthrie, OK. I called and ordered because I didn’t want to pay for shipping, and it was a short 1-hour drive from our house to pick them up when they were ready. I set them up in my studio and they looked great. I am so looking forward to going back to Santa Fe, my favorite place in the world right now.


A few other events I attended, with Josh in tow, were last week, and one of my mentors G. Patrick Riley, invited me to share a few of my artworks up at the 2023 Sovereignty Symposium, up at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown OKC. Attended the reception and got some pics! Josh and I also attended Ben Harjo’s Celebration of Life reception up at the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center. It was moving, and I was surprised to see a few of my photos with Ben made it into the slideshow. Ben Harjo was a beautiful man with a humorous spirit, and this made its way into the artwork he made. If you have never seen Ben’s artwork, please google it and see why he was such an icon. Ben always made me feel welcomed at the art events I went to. He loved to joke with Josh and I, and we will miss him dearly. Prayers to his wife and family.


I am always busy, but I am thankful for the blessing of life every day. I go through rough patches, but I am learning to heal and be stronger and better. Also, I have been playing a lot of the new Nintendo game, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and it’s a fantastic way to escape, and I become the hero of Hyrule. I will update again in August, and as always, you can follow me on Instagram and on Facebook, and see what I am up to on a weekly basis. Take care!


Amber




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