‘Navajo Bling’ wins Best of Show at Cherokee Art Market
Navajo artist Ric Charlie wins 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. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller, right, congratulates Navajo artist Ric Charlie for winning Best of Show for his jewelry piece “Navajo Bling” at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa, Oklahoma. Also congratulating Charlie is Cherokee Art Market Manager Deborah Fritts. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A jewelry piece titled “Navajo Bling” and made by Navajo artist Ric Charlie won Best of Show at the 12th annual Cherokee Art Market held Oct. 14-15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. The 14-karat gold jewelry set features more than 1,700 individually set diamonds and is valued at $75,000. COURTESY
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 Cherokeeartmarket.com