FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A local man wants to establish a Flagstaff Outdoor Indian Market for Native American artists on weekends during May and seven days a week starting in June through Labor Day.
Don Dent said that he recently started looking into providing Native American artists with the opportunity to show their work in Flagstaff. He said it is tough for artists to have their artwork shown in galleries and with a high unemployment rate on the reservations in Indian country, whether Navajo, Hopi or Apache, it is hard to find work.
"There is very little income coming into the family," Dent said. "Life is very harsh. This venue provides them with the opportunity to sell their things at a very nominal cost."
The cost would be a city licensing fee for each artist, which the artist is responsible for and a nominal booth fee. Dent, with the help of David Harton and his wife Barbara who own the Beaver Street Gallery, found a location next to the gallery in a fenced in open lot two blocks from the railroad station, next to Macy's and across the street from Beaver Street Brewery.
"He [David Harton] said I think it is a great idea," Dent said. "The artists can take money home and pay for expenses at home. A lot of the artists have taken to making arts and crafts to survive."
Another reason Dent thinks the market is so important is the closure of U.S. 89A in June through Oak Creek Canyon. The artists who sell at the overlook and at the Dairy Queen in Oak Creek Canyon will have to find somewhere else to display and sell their work. He believes his venue is a good alternative. Wheeler Park will also be closed during the summer.
"That's going to knock out a lot of families that won't be able to work for the month of June," Dent said. "If they go back out to the highways between Page and Cameron, it is going to be harder for them to sell their things out there. Everybody wins in this. It's a win-win situation. Everyone benefits, mainly the artists themselves."
Dent anticipates that the Outdoor Market will feature a mixture of Indian artists with various backgrounds. The idea is that the Outdoor Indian Market would provide an opportunity for all whether an artist strings beads together and sells inexpensive arts and crafts out on the highway near Cameron or is a well known painter or sculptor just coming back from a gallery in Santa Fe.
"We don't have what you would call a full-fledged American Indian art gallery in Flagstaff," Dent said. "The reason I want to do this is American Indians' art talents are bountiful. It is just unbelievable what American Indian artists can do and are doing. They have just gobs of talent that is never brought forth. They can come for a day, two days or whatever it is to show their work."
The artwork on display must be hand made.
"It must be custom made art," Dent said, adding that non-Natives can also sell work as long as their work fits the criteria.
The Outdoor Market will be open each weekend in May and then seven days a week starting June 1 through Labor Day weekend. On weekends entertainers will perform.
Dent is footing the cost for insurance and publicity.
"There is a lot involved in planning something like this," Dent said.
Dent said he that wants to help others in the way that he has been helped throughout his life.
"I have always wanted to be a catalyst for Indian people," Dent said. "Over the years as I was growing up a lot of people created opportunities for me. I am especially thankful to my non-Indian adoptive parents who adopted me when I was a teenager. If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't be where I am at today. I believe in opening doors for other people. It is very important that we do that for one another."
More information is available from Dent at (928) 814-5064 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.