Want to get in on the ground floor of collecting from a future Native arts star? On July 4 and 5, the Young Native Artists Show & Sale returns to the Palace Courtyard, from 9 am to 4 pm. Children and grandchildren of artists who belong to the Native American Artisans Program will show off their latest works of art, learn a few tricks of the customer-service trade, and possibly launch a career.
Alvin Van Fleet knows. He was once 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,” Alvin said, laughing. “Their minds are going all over the place.”
As soon as school ends, he said, “their parents probably having them working for this show. Some of the kids are really good at what they do. Others have their parents help them. It all varies in quality, from novice to advanced. And the parents are usually there with the kids. Sometimes, one parent is selling out front, and the other is in the courtyard.”
The museum oversees the Portal Program to help sustain traditional arts and to encourage relationships between artists and patrons. For our youngest visitors, that relationship may be more easy to build when the artist is another child.
“So bring the family,” Alvin said. “Art is for everybody.”