Cherokee artist expanding business

11/04/2015 08:30 AM
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Cherokee Nation citizen and artist MaryBeth Timothy stands with a print of her artwork “Galiquogi,” seven in Cherokee, which is for sale at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Each horse features an animal representing the seven Cherokee clans. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen MaryBeth Timothy has called herself a professional artist for more than 15 years. She hopes others will see her as one too after getting a loan from Cherokee Nation to expand her business into a full-time career.

“It’s been 15 years now that I’ve been doing this professionally, but it’s funny because I’m still known as an up-and-coming artist. So hopefully when I go back full time I’ll be able to produce enough to be above that level,” Timothy said.

The Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah supplied the loan and went to expanding her MoonHawk Art business. With it she had plans to buy printing equipment that will put her art on items such as tiles, T-shirts and coffee mugs.

“We saw that as an opportunity to grow our business to where I can go back to it full time, and it will help pay for that,” she said.

The expansion idea came after being encouraged by artists Jeanne Bridges and Cherokee National Treasure Traci Rabbit, who sell their artwork on different items.

Timothy said she hopes to begin producing by the end of the year and has talked with gift shops about featuring her art in their spaces.

Her husband John, a Muscogee Creek artist, is also putting in time for the endeavor.

“It is awesome to have such a great connection with my husband,” she said. “We both love to create art. We both love to travel and participate at art shows. And we are about to embark on running a business together as well.”

She has previously displayed her work and placed in the Cherokee Art Market, Southeastern Art Show and Market, the Santa Fe Indian Art Market and at The Délégation Amérindienne, or The Native American Delegation, in Paris. She is also a gift shop manager and exhibit coordinator for the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, where her artwork can be purchased.

Timothy first began drawing as a child but became discouraged by junior high when she decided to pack away her art supplies out of frustration.

“My parents always bought me art supplies, books, paints, pencils, etc., but I could never get it from my head to the paper the way I wanted it to be,” she said. “It always seemed like it was too cartoonish, and by about junior high age I packed it all up and didn’t do anything for a while.”

Timothy didn’t discover her love for art again until she was 30 years old after meeting sculptor and eventual mentor Betty Synar-Cramer.

Synar-Cramer challenged Timothy to create her own sculptures. Timothy eventually created a bust of an older Native American man. That day, Timothy said, Synar-Cramer told her that art was her calling.

“It just went on from there,” Timothy said. “She wanted me to start sketching again and I was real intimidated about that, but I did. Then she introduced me to her daughter Addie, who is a portrait artist. Addie had me do some sketches for her and she showed me how to add depth to my ‘cartoonish’ drawings. It was like turning on a light switch in my creative mind. From that moment on, I saw everything differently and dove into my art full force.”

Timothy mainly uses colored pencils, ink and acrylics to create her art and has recently returned to sculpting.

“My subjects vary depending on commissions or projects or even just my mood,” she said. “I love wildlife, mostly painting and drawing birds, but I also do a lot of Native American-themed work as well.”

In addition to her expansion, Timothy’s work will be displayed at Certified Native, a new art and gift gallery located at 306 N. Muskogee in Tahlequah. Her work has also been selected for the November cover of Native Oklahoma magazine.

For information about Timothy, visit For information about Certified Native, call 918-708-5838.