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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 13, 2003 - Issue 102


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Christmas Fine Art Show will feature Tuba City High staffer

by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer - TC District Media

Richard DawavendewaRichard Dawavendewa's award-winning contemporary Hopi art combines comic book history, Japanese Origami inspired paper folding, sculpture and printmaking. His two dimensional artwork will be featured at the fourth annual Christmas Fine Art Show in Tuba City at the Warrior Pavilion on Dec. 19 and 20.

The opening reception for the art show, sponsored by Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, Tuba City Athletic Department and the Tuba City Police Department, is scheduled for Dec. 19 from 6-10 p.m. The Dec. 20 show will start at 10 a.m. and go until 5 p.m.

Dawavendewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe and a native of Moencopi, is a first year art teacher at Tuba City High School, who teaches beginning drawing and painting. He joins his brother, Cedric, who teaches ceramics at the school.

As art teacher, Dawavendewa said he hopes to be able to give each of his students, "a greater appreciation of art itself and the work and discipline that it takes to create and market good, high-quality art work."

Dawavendewa's original art inspiration came from comic books. When he was growing up and he would go to Flagstaff on shopping trips with his family, he would head for the comic book aisles. His first comic book hero was Batman and still is today. He started drawing Batman at age 6.

Inspired by these colorful images, Dawavendewa continued to draw and paint and eventually ended up at DeVry College taking courses to obtain an associates degree in art. He then went onto Northern Arizona University for his bachelor of fine arts degree and since he had several credits towards a graduate degree, he decided to stay and get a graduate degree in art.

Dawavendewa ended up at the University of North Dakota in a master's program and graduated in May. But he said his own home reservation and people were calling to him, so he came back to work within his own Hopi community and wants to share his special art gift with students that are from his own hometown. When a position in Tuba City High's art department became available he quickly applied and he was snapped up before he had time to give it any additional thought.

Richard Dawavendewa's workDawavendewa's work has won several awards in the past three years that have focused on his interest and skill in two-dimensional design. Though his undergraduate degree is in printmaking, he has taken that technique a step further by combining it with bookbinding and folding sculpture.

These very complex and foldable sculpture pieces have won awards from SouthWestern Association for Indian Art's Indian Market in the past two years in both Best of Category and Best of Two-Dimensional Design. Dawavendewa took home this year's 2003 Museum of Northern Arizona's Best of Division in the Contemporary category of the Hopi Show.

His connection to the upcoming show in Tuba City is to fellow artist, Navajo Nation member Rueben Richards who is a painter and someone who has known Richard for a long time. Richards has coordinated this show for the past four years and was anxious to include Hopis in the fourth annual public event. Dawavendewa was at the top of his list because of their long friendship but primarily because of the caliber and recent demand of his work.

Other artists that will show at the Christmas Fine Art Show are: Billy Whitethorne, Ira Custer, Julius Keyonnie, Ed Whitethorne, Liz Whitethorne Beanlly, Bahe Whitethorne Sr., Rueben Richards, Keith Smith, Roy Walters, Dan Yazzie Jr., Eriic Bilagody, Naveek, Irvin Toddy, Robert Shorty, Delmar Polacca, Leroy Begay, Leroy Dejolie, Harold Davidson, Virgil Nez, David K. John, Darryl Begay, Delbert Blackhorse, Ryan Huna Smith, Albert Nells and Henry Yazzie.

Larry Shepard, Richard Delbert Blackhorse, James BIlagody and Coalition will provide the entertainment. Also a Toys for Tots Christmas toy drive will be underway at the show. Toy donations for all age groups are welcome.

Upcoming shows for Dawavendewa include Pueblo Grande's Museum show Dec 12-14 at downtown Steele Park in Phoenix. After the Tuba City exhibition, Dawavendewa will prepare for next year's Red Earth Show and MNA's Hopi Show as well as the SWAIA Indian Market in Santa Fe.

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