http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe seven Cherokee clans are represented on the back of a guitar decorated by Cherokee artist Verna Bates. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The seven Cherokee clans are represented on the back of a guitar decorated by Cherokee artist Verna Bates. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokees create artwork using guitars

Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards uses ancient Southeastern-style designs for his guitar design. The legendary Cherokee serpent Uktena wraps the outer edges of the guitar body. COURTESY PHOTO Brass and nickel accents are a part of a guitar designed by Cherokee artist Roger Cain. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Booger mask maker Roger Cain places a booger made of brass, nickel and copper on the back of the guitar he designed for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Karen Berry displays her guitar entry for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. The legendary Cherokee serpent Uktena wraps the front of the guitar in Berry’s design. COURTESY PHOTO Artist Roy Boney Jr., shows his guitar design with the legendary Uktena horned serpent. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The legendary horned serpent Uktena dominates the design created by Cherokee artist Roy Boney. COURTESY PHOTO Cherokee artist Joseph Erb uses an iconography design for a guitar project for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. COURTESY PHOTO The horned feather serpent of Cherokee legend Uktena wraps the outer edge of the back of guitar designed by Joseph Erb. COURTESY PHOTO
Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/17/2012 08:25 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
CATOOSA, Okla. – Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards recently took on the challenge of transforming an electric guitar into art that will be displayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

He is one of 39 Cherokee artists who had until April 10 to finish design work on Epiphone-brand guitars. Edwards, of Sallisaw, said he chose images from the book “Sun Circles and Human Hands,” which includes Southeastern-style designs.

“I thought it would look really cool on a guitar and then recreated and customized them to my liking. Since I don’t paint once the images were completed I sent them to…Inkdt in Cincinnati, which is a company that produces custom guitar skins out of the artwork you submit to fit your make and model of guitar,” he said. “By doing the skin it allowed me to produce exactly what I wanted and then apply it to the guitar.”

He said the guitar skin uses the same concept as “skinning” a laptop or cell phone case.

Edwards said he was inspired by custom guitars used by musicians such as Eddie Van Halen, who have a custom guitar design that is unique to them, and created his own unique custom guitar design.

“The most difficult part of the project was deciding what to use and then laying it out on the guitar. I really enjoyed the whole process from creating the images to applying the skin and putting it all back together and having a finished product,” he said.

Verna Bates, of Locust Grove, said her specialty is gourd art but welcomed the challenge of decorating a guitar.

Recently, she has focused on the seven Cherokee clans when designing her gourd masks and used masks representing the clans in her guitar design. Because the guitars are meant for the renovated Wild Potato Buffet, Bates focused on the Wild Potato clan for the front of the guitar and placed designs for all the clans on the back of the guitar.

Bates said she understands that 39 guitars will be displayed in glass cases along the walls of the buffet. Guitars that don’t match the color scheme of the buffet may be placed in other areas of the casino, she said.

Through a Facebook page for artists, Bates said she has seen other guitars being worked on by artists and that some were “awesome” ideas.

She said artists were asked to use a period from “time immemorial to 1790” when coming up with design ideas. Artist then submitted design sketches to casino officials before being chosen to participate in the project.

Bates said she’s glad she is part of a group of artists who are working on a project to inform the public about Cherokee culture and people.

“I can’t wait to see the whole group of them when they are displayed,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be in that group. It’s good to be included. It makes my heart swell.”

He can work with “about any material he can get a hold of” but artist Roger Cain, of Stilwell, chose copper, brass, nickel and aluminum for his guitar. Traditionally, Cherokee people used copper when designing jewelry and ornaments, but Cain said he wanted to use the other materials so the guitar would have contrasting colors.

Cain’s specialty is making gourd booger masks, which were once used in Cherokee ceremonies to show the unbecoming attributes of a people without embarrassing the culprits or to make fun of the unique characteristics of white people.

He placed a bird design on the front of his guitar and a booger face on the back. All of the metal used made the guitar heavy, he said, but added contrasting qualities.

“It was fun process, especially knowing we could do what we wanted to with it as long as we conveyed a Southeastern theme,” he said.

Cain said he hopes the guitar project will lead to the Cherokee Nation leading the way on a public art project like the one in Cherokee, N.C., where larger-than-life bears were painted by artists and placed throughout the town. He envisions possibly using deer, eagles or even large crawfish for the public art project.

“That’d be something to explore for sure, getting more public art here in Tahlequah if we are really wanting to push the art scene here, which has been really great,” he said.

He said he appreciates Cherokee Casinos funding and pushing the Cherokee art scene to where it is constantly changing and evolving and not static.

Roy Boney Jr., of Tahlequah, chose to focus on the feathered, horned serpent of Cherokee legend called the Uktena for his design. He said his talent is drawing and painting with acrylic paint.

“Getting a guitar to paint was something new, something I’d never done before,” he said. “On the front is the snake itself, mainly the head, coming at you. On the back I’m going to paint the word Uktena in the (Cherokee) syllabary, but it’s going to be splashy, like dirty and messy to go with the idea of hard rock.”

Boney’s design includes a “happy mistake” because the gloss finish he used began to peel when he removed the mask he had put on the front of the guitar to protect it while he painted the back. However, the peeled paint only added to the rough design he hoped to achieve, he said.

“So the idea now is to make the surface of the guitar look like it’s been dinged up a lot by somebody on tour with this guitar,” he said.

Boney played the guitar when he was younger, so taking apart the guitar wasn’t too difficult for him, he said, but taking it apart and making sure he could incorporate his design on it was difficult.

The Uktena also dominates the design of Karen Berry of Garland, Texas. She also usually works with gourds, and as a whole, she said working on the guitar didn’t prove to be much of a challenge for her because she’s used to working with hollow gourds.

“It’s a big gourd really. I’m used to working on something three dimensional like that,” she said. “I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.”

The Uktena is on the front and back of her guitar, and she used a Cherokee mound builders scroll pattern on the fretwork.

“I didn’t make mine (Uktena) scary looking,” she said.

Designing the scroll pattern on the fret board was the most difficult part of the process, Berry said, because the frets were glued on.

“They actually get closer together down toward the head of the guitar and I didn’t realize that. So I couldn’t really center the scroll on the frets, so that was really difficult. I just kind of had to draw around the frets,” she said.

She said from her observations, it seems every artist with a guitar has done something “completely different.” There are Cherokee painters, graphic artists, sculptors, metal workers, beaders, booger mask makers, basket makers and potters involved in the project.

Graphic artist Joseph Erb’s design is centered on old Cherokee iconography or symbols. He used symbols of old bears, raccoons and flat-style birds and two Uktena horned serpents swirl up on the back of the guitar with their tongues lashing out.

“The movement of the whole piece is actually sectioned and it deals with the old concepts of this world and the next world,” he said. “The Uktenas were in between both worlds.”

He said the front part of his guitar deals with the world now and the design transitions to the design on the back of the guitar.

“It’s a flat design, and I want my piece to be smooth and elegant and clean looking. I want it to have that old-style look, but something that looks highly modern,” he said.

He sent his design to a company to have a skin made for his guitar and then adhered the skin around the guitar.

Erb believes the guitar project will be a “game changer” for the Cherokee art world because artists “really stepped up their game.” He also believes the guitars will be their own attraction among the other Hard Rock attractions.

“It seems in the last five years the artists are starting to come together and talk more, and it seems to really help their work. When you see something cool that someone did, you can’t just turn anything in now. You’ve got to turn something nice in because you just saw three people that blew your mind, and now it’s your turn,” he said.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/17/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Artists from throughout the nation competed in eight categories: painting, sculpture, beadwork/quillwork, basketry, pottery, textiles, jewelry and diverse art forms. Sixty artists received awards, and 150 artists displayed and sold their art during the event. Charlie, 59, of Tuba City, Arizona, makes jewelry, paints and sculpts. “I can’t make a living with those (painting and sculpting), but I do it for therapy,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed all kinds of art, ever since I was a kid.” He said his winning necklace was inspired by “a nice summer day” when he was out of school and had time on his hands. “Navajo Bling” is a 14-karat gold jewelry set featuring more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000. “As a kid I was always involved in creating things because on the reservation you had to. I learned a lot from my grandfather because he was the creator of many things,” he said. “The work that I do now is something I only dreamed about doing. When I started making jewelry, I said, ‘I really want to get into gold. I really want to get into diamonds. I really want to do this type of work.’ It’s just a dream come true.” Charlie said he “dreamed big” as a child. “If you don’t dream big, it won’t happen.” He’s participated in other art shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market, but this was the first time he entered the Cherokee Art Market. He said he plans to enter his work again. “I find it (Cherokee Art Market) really personal. People here are very, very friendly and welcoming, too. The level of artwork here is incredible,” Charlie said. Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula won Best of Class for Class 1: Painting, Drawing, Graphics & Photography for his painting titled “We Stand as One.” Cherokee sculpture Bill Glass Jr. won Best of Class for Class 2: Sculpture for his piece “The Discussion Revolves.” In the Class 5: Pottery Division, Cherokee artist Troy Jackson won Best of Class for his work “Bird Effigy.” Cherokee Art Market Manager Deborah Fritts said one artist came from Alaska and another came from Maine and other artists from in between. She said the show has come a long way from its first year in 2005 when it was held under tents in the casino parking lot. It has been held inside the casino since 2009. Fritts attends other art shows to “scope” out artists and to network. She also meets with other art market coordinators. “A lot of the people that win at the other shows, like at Santa Fe (Indian Market) or the Heard Museum (Phoenix), they come to our show,” she said. Dallin Maybee is chief operating officer for the Southwest Association for Indian Arts, the nonprofit association that produces the Santa Fe Indian Market. He said the Cherokee Art Market has its own “personality,” and he wouldn’t compare it to Santa Fe but “it’s a great show.” “This brings an incredible competitive field of artists. It’s a nice show. It’s intimate. You see a lot of your friends here, and the prize money helps,” Maybee said. “I come to this show every time that I can just because it’s a good time.” For a full list of winners, visit <a href="http://www.Cherokeeartmarket.com" target="_blank">Cherokeeartmarket.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/17/2017 12:00 PM
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 at the Bartow History Museum. The speaker will be Jim Langford, and his topic will be “Impact of de Soto on Southeastern Native Americans.” Langford is a member and former officer of the Society of Georgia Archaeology and has been doing research on the Native American presence in the Southeast for many years. The Bartow History Museum is located at 4 E. Church St. Its phone number is 770-382-3818. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. The Georgia TOTA chapter is one of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. GATOTA meetings are free and open to the public. People need not have Native American ancestry to attend GATOTA meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this tragic period in this country’s history. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nationaltota.com" target="_blank">www.nationaltota.com</a> or <a href="http://www.gatrailoftears.org" target="_blank">www.gatrailoftears.org</a>. For more information about the November meeting, email Tony Harris at <a href="mailto: harris7627@bellsouth.net">harris7627@bellsouth.net</a>.
BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
10/14/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With its 2017 annual homecoming T-shirt now for sale, the Cherokee Phoenix is calling for Cherokee artists to submit design concepts for the news organization’s 2018 T-shirt. In 2016, the Cherokee Phoenix staff introduced a T-shirt to differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt. Phoenix staff members contracted with artist Buffalo Gouge for the shirt’s initial design. For this year’s homecoming shirt, Phoenix staff members selected Daniel HorseChief’s concept out of approximately 10 designs from artists. The Cherokee Phoenix then contracted with HorseChief to create the 2017 shirt. HorseChief said his concept comes from a four-panel painting that features Selu, the Corn Mother in Cherokee lore. The image shows the bust of Selu, who is looking down into a Southeastern art pattern. Behind her on the left side are seven ears of corn with water under it. Behind her on the opposite side is a phoenix with fire below it. Above the phoenix is the Cherokee seven-pointed star. Above the image, written in Cherokee, are the words “Cherokee Phoenix.” Below the image, in English, is “2017 CHEROKEE HOMECOMING.” The limited-quantity, black shirts are short-sleeved, ranging in sizes small to 3XL and sell for $20 plus tax. The shirts are available at the Cherokee Phoenix office in Room 231 of the Annex Building (Old Motel) on the Tribal Complex. For more information, call 918-453-5269. They are also available at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, als0 on the Tribal Complex, or online at <a href="http://cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">http://cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Phoenix staff members will also have shirts available at the Cherokee Phoenix booths at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and Capital Square during the Cherokee National Holiday in September. The Cherokee Phoenix is accepting concept ideas from artists who are Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band citizens until midnight on Jan. 1. Artist can email detailed concepts to <a href="mailto: travis-snell@cherokee.org">travis-snell@cherokee.org</a>. For artists contemplating submitting design ideas, please note that if your concept is chosen and you sign a contract, the Cherokee Phoenix will own the artwork because we consider it a commissioned piece. As for what Phoenix staff members look for in a concept, we ask that artists “think Cherokee National Holiday” and include a phoenix.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/12/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Families looking for a fun, educational adventure for their children during fall break should plan to visit the Cherokee Nation museums on Oct. 20.  Museums participating are the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the John Ross Museum. Enjoy free admission and special activities at all three locations. There will be paper bandolier bags at the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee syllabary lessons at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and make your own clay beads at the John Ross Museum. The educational activities occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows, exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots, jail cells and much more. Built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits on the Cherokee National Judicial System; the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers; and the Cherokee language, with various historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture. Touch screen kiosks offer visitors documentary-style learning on various legal topics as well as teaching conversational Cherokee. The John Ross Museum highlights the life of John Ross, principal chief of the CN for more than 38 years, and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for the education of its people. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School No. 51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where John Ross and other notable Cherokee citizens are buried. The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is located at 122 E. Keetoowah St., and the Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St., both in Tahlequah. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road in Park Hill. For more information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.visitcherokeenation.com" target="_blank">www.visitcherokeenation.com</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/09/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With the hope of teaching more Cherokees soapstone carving, United Keetoowah Band citizen Matt Girty is spreading his knowledge of the ancient art by offering classes in Tahlequah to people willing to learn. His latest class was on Sept. 16 at the UKB Culture Center, where students gained insight and hands-on experience with soapstone carving. “My goal was to get more carvers out here because I see a lot of opportunity. So what many people are going to have to do around here is look within their self, look (at) who they are, and most of us out here are Cherokees,” he said. “If I can do it, there’s more out here that can do it. Even if they don’t get seen...then they’ve got a piece of their culture. They can show whoever they want to…so that way it’ll stay alive here within us and not die like it almost has been.” Girty said he starts his students with creating a turtle. “This right here is basically to get them to figure out their shapes and to get their hands on soapstone,” he said. “Figure out how to work it, how it feels on your hands.” As for tools, Girty uses X-Acto knives, files and hacksaws to shape his works. “I wanted these guys to get the feel of the grass roots of it because that’s how our people did it, not with power tools,” he said. “I want them to get the slow process of it, to get the blocking out and taking off a lot of the object to get to your main goal of making your object piece. So I want them to get used to doing it by hand first before they jump on any power tools.” By creating stone carved art, Girty said he feels he’s helping keep the art form alive. “It’s better for me to pass this on because this is all I know how to do that could better our people,” he said. “In my opinion, we should all be able to create beauty and make people smile in everything we do…to keep us going as Cherokee people.” UKB citizen Ernestine Berry said she is no stranger to the art world, so when she heard about Girty’s class she decided to take it. “I’m always interested in anything having to do with art,” she said. “I haven’t done stone carving before. I’ve done a little bit of woodcarving. I also have a degree in art for the University in Tulsa. So, I’ve done a little bit of artwork.” She said Girty is a “good” teacher and thinks what he does, by teaching and preserving the culture, is important. “I think anything to do with our tradition and our heritage is important to our people,” she said. “It helps us to know who we are. It helps to know where we came from, and it helps us to understand the ancestors and what they went through and the kind of lives that they lived.” Berry said she encourages anyone interested in preserving Cherokee culture to take Girty’s class. “It’s an enjoyable thing as well as a learning experience,” she said. “I just encourage anybody who wants to come, to come, because we’re not exclusive here. We accept everybody, Keetoowahs, Cherokee Nation, non-Indians, other tribes, anybody that wants to come.” So far Girty has taught two classes and hopes to continue teaching, while building upon each one to help students create more advanced pieces. “I have an idea for you to carve bears. The next class I want you to bring whatever you want to carve and then we can do it,” he said. “Next thing, I have a vision of our old pipe effigies that we used to make. That will be an advanced class because that’s what I’m (personally) doing now is recreating these ceremonial objects.” Girty hopes to have his next class in either late November or early December. “I’m here for instruction. Everything I know, it’s no secret,” he said. “I want to show you everything I know, then in turn you go show who you know. Come back and show me what you did, and hopefully you become to be a lot better than I am.” For more information, find him under Matt Girty on Facebook.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/06/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau meeting will be held 12:30-4 p.m., Oct. 12 in the Community Ballroom located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokees in Tahlequah. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. Participants who wish to bring a side dish or dessert for lunch may do so. The monthly meeting allows area Cherokee speakers to meet and fellowship using the Cherokee language. The speakers share songs, tell handed-down stories in Cherokee, hear presentations and share a meal. For further information about the event, contact the Language Program at 918-453-5151 or John Ross at 918-453-6170 or Roy Boney, Jr. at 918-453-5487.