In about a quarter of an hour, artist Rex Carolin (with the help of his son Cameron and a few other people) can raise an 18-foot tipi.
Once standing, however, the Native American edifice is more than a mere structure. It is a direct link to a rich cultural heritage dating back hundreds and hundreds of years.
For Carolin, studying his Lakota bloodline has not only been a revelation about his ancestors, it has become an inspiration…an inspiration that influences every aspect of his art.
From the paintings he does on animal hides, to the jewelry he makes from animal bone, horn and sinew, all Carolin’s artwork bespeaks of his tribal legacy and elucidates his persistent passion.
He is a Sioux Indian eager to keep his culture alive.
This weekend, one of Carolin’s Lakota tipis will be on exhibit at the Autry National Center, as part of the museum’s 22nd Annual American Indian Arts Marketplace.
As well, a sampling of both traditional and contemporary artwork created by more than 180 other Native American artists will be on display and available for purchase. Artists from across the U.S. will present their paintings and sculptures, plus weavings, woodcarvings, jewelry, beadwork and other items of cultural significance.
The weekend event will also feature live performances by Native dancers and musicians, educational presentations, and a variety of activities for children, including storytelling with Jacque Nunez of the Acjachemen Nation.
On Friday, the Marketplace kicked-off with the Marshall McKay and Sharon Rogers McKay Juried Competition; in the evening, the museum hosted a special dinner, during which the Best of Show Awards were presented to participating artists.
Traditionally, through the benevolence of Mrs. Gene Autry, a work of art created by one of the participating artists will be purchased and placed in the Autry’s permanent collection. (Last year’s winner was artist Ken Humpherville.)
Described as a “’two-day celebration of Native American arts and culture”, the Autry’s Marketplace gives museum patrons an opportunity to view the work of contemporary artists and often meet them, too. The intimacy–and authenticity–of the exhibition is one reason so many people enthusiastically come back to the marketplace year after year.
Carolin, too, enjoys the closeness such art gatherings afford because in promoting his artwork, he also has the opportunity to tell people about other things he is passionate about, such as the InterTribal Bison Cooperative, a Native American organization whose mission is “restoring buffalo to Indian Country, to preserve our historical, cultural, traditional and spiritual relationship for future generations”.
Likewise, Carolin is very active in “Indigenous Riders”, an inter-tribal organization that focuses on empowering Native Americans through cultural education, including programs geared especially toward teaching young people about Native American history and traditions.
“When you spend time with (our) elders, you learn a lot,” he said. “You learn to think about others…not yourself. That’s how you become a strong nation.”
(The 22nd American Indian Arts Marketplace will be held on Saturday, November 3, and Sunday, November 4, from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles 90027. Admission is $12 for adults; $8 for seniors (60+), children (9+) and students with I.D.; children 8 and younger are free. For additional information call: (323) 667-2000.)
Special note: Bank of America’s Museums on Us special promotion is in effect this weekend and the Autry National Center is a participating museum. Just by presenting your Bank of America card, you can get free admission to the Autry! (Please check for more details on the web.)