Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Special exhibit celebrates 25 years of Indian Market art

    by By Scott Shoemaker, Ph.D, (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture | Jun 19, 2017

    For the local and regional community, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival is an important venue for interacting with Native artists and experiencing the diverse Native arts and cultures of North America. In conjunction with this year’s market, the exhibit Indian Market and Festival: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years will open on June 23 and run through July 30. The exhibition features market art added to the museum’s collections through generous donations of patrons and celebrates the market’s many artists.

    Susan Folwell -- Love Gun jarThere is much to celebrate. Indian Market could not exist without the artists, who come to the Eiteljorg each June from all over the United States and Canada. Donors, staff and the public have developed deep relationships with the more than 800 artists who have participated in the market over its lifetime. Many of these artists’ works have greatly enhanced the museum’s collection through the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award and the market’s signature image. These additions help us further our mission — to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the Indigenous peoples of North America.

    Starting during the market’s early years, a signature image has been selected from among participating artists’ works. This image is used on T-shirts and in promotional materials to convey the high quality of art market-goers will encounter. Some works that became signature images were acquired for the museum’s permanent collections. These range from paintings by several renowned Native artists to a beaded portrait, Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill by Marcus Amerman (Choctaw).

    Marcus Amerman -- Buffalo Bill and Sitting BullAs early as 1993, patrons purchased artworks from market artists and donated them to the museum for the permanent collection. In 2004, a formal purchase prize was created. Consulting with donors who contribute the funds to acquire pieces, the curatorial staff gives presentations on exemplary and important works submitted for judging and chooses several that would help fulfill the museum’s collecting strategy. Then the donors vote on their favorite piece.

    Those chosen by the committee are added to the museum collections and represent nearly every category at the market. These encompass the broadest range of Native art visitors can encounter at Indian Market, such as the jar Love Gun by Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo) or the lidded basket Blue Herons by Ronni Leigh Goeman (Onondaga) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca). Both works are exquisite examples of customary and culturally specific art forms that also are innovative.

    The signature images and purchase awards add exceptional pieces of Native art from living artists and fill existing gaps in the museum’s collection. These awards help the Eiteljorg demonstrate a continuum of expression and the broad array of creativity of Native artists using a wide range of mediums and their innovative use of materials, forms and design.

    Ronni Leigh Goeman and Stonehorse Goeman -- Blue HeronsEven if you can’t attend Indian Market and Festival this year, the exhibition in the Gerald and Dorit Paul Gallery will provide you with the “market experience.” We look forward to what the future holds for Indian Market and Festival and for the artists who help to make it such a wonderful event.

    Top image:
    Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo, b. 1970)
    Love Gun, 2013
    Clay, India ink, bone white slip
    Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award, 2013 Indian Market and Festival

    Middle image:
    Marcus Amerman (Choctaw, b. 1959)
    Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull, 2006
    Glass size 13 cut, antique and seed beads and size b Nymo nylon thread
    Museum Purchase: Indian Market Signature Artist

    Bottom image:
    Ronni Leigh Goeman (Onondaga, Eel Clan) and Stonehorse Goeman (Seneca)
    Blue Herons, 2014
    Black ash splint, sweetgrass, moose antler, moose hair, buffalo horn
    Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award, 2014 Indian Market and Festival


  • Enduring Sandstone

    by Bryan Corbin | Jun 15, 2017
    In its June issue, the Grand Rapids-based magazine Great Lakes By Design featured an interesting article about the architecture of the Eiteljorg Museum building. The article quotes the museum's award-winning architect, Jonathan Hess, as well as Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall.  The article, "Enduring Sandstone" by Chelsea Slocum, appears on pages 44-46 and can be downloaded at this link:
    Great Lakes By Design magazine article, June 2017

  • Never missed a market: Returning artists known for beautiful works

    by Bryan Corbin, editor, Storyteller Magazine | Jun 07, 2017

    The Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival has come a long way from its first year when it hosted fewer than 60 artists. Now it’s one of the top art shows for up-and-coming and established Native American artists. As the market has grown, evolved and inspired new memories, the Eiteljorg has been lucky to have the presence of two constants: Nelson Garcia and Shirley Brauker, talented artists who have been to every Indian Market and are returning for the 25th annual celebration. Market-goers each June look forward with anticipation to seeing them and the beautiful new pieces they create.

    Shirley Brauker (Little River Band of Odawa)

    The intricate hand-carved designs of Shirley Brauker’s pottery depict vivid scenes of animals, trees and nature and often tell traditional stories. “A lot of them are so detailed that I actually type up the story and stick it in the pot so (the collector) can retell it,” she said. Her Woodland and Great Lakes style pottery is highly regarded. Two of her pieces are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. A large wall mosaic and several pottery pieces she created are seen at Disney Corp. in Orlando, Fla. Four of her pieces are in the Eiteljorg collection.

    Shirley BraukerThrough showing her pottery and art at Indian Market each year, Brauker has befriended collectors in the Indianapolis area. She recalled meeting her first Eiteljorg collectors while attending the first Indian Market Preview Party. One of her most loyal patrons was the late Mrs. Robert S. (Margot) Eccles, an Indianapolis philan­thropist who served for years as an Eiteljorg board member and Indian Market chairperson. Eccles had collected several of Brauker’s pieces over the years, including the last one in 2012 shortly before her death; and Eccles sent her assistant to pick it up so it could be with her in her final days. “It’s so great to have this deep connection,” Brauker said of friendships with collectors.

    Based in Coldwater, Michigan, Brauker has a strong focus on arts education. She received her fine arts degrees, both bachelor’s and master’s, at Central Michigan University, and attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M. In 2015 she received an honorary doctoral degree from her alma mater CMU and gave the university’s commencement address. She taught language and art for years at youth camps for Native children in Michigan and has conducted art work­shops as far away as Alaska. In 2014, Brauker was one of the Eiteljorg’s Artists in Residence. “Education and teachings are really important to me and I try to pass that on to other Natives for inspiration and hope so they can learn,” she said.

    Brauker also draws ledger art, and all of her works include a tiny sketch of a moon and bear, a motif that comes from her Native name, “Bear of the Nighttime Sun.” It also inspired the name of her art business, Moon Bear Pottery and Indian Arts.

    Nelson Garcia (Santo Domingo Pueblo)

    From his studio in Phoenix, Nelson Garcia creates jewelry known for its clean pristine design and quality of stones. Turquoise, lapis, coral and other gemstones are in his repertoire of silver and gold bracelets, rings, earrings and other jewelry he designs — mostly contemporary, and some traditional.

    Growing up in the Kewa Pueblo village near Santa Fe, N.M., Garcia learned the silversmithing art from his father, Joe Jay Garcia. “My father was a great teacher, and he taught me a lot,” he said. “While I was learning jewelry, he always said, ‘Make sure it’s done — there’s a word in our language for perfect — before you put it out there on the table, or out there in the market.’”

    Nelson GarciaAfter working for several jewelry shops, Nelson Garcia founded his own jewelry business in Phoenix in 1982. He’s sold his jewelry at many art shows, and his pieces have earned numerous awards. Through art shows, he’s met many customers who commis­sioned him to create jewelry for special occasions.

    “It’s always great to come back each year,” he said of the Eiteljorg Indian Market. He enjoys talking with customers who visit his table and he shares with them details about his art. “I just explain to them about my jewelry and a little bit about where I came from and what I have seen there in the village growing up,” he said. “That’s what makes the show really great: If you take care of your customers, they take care of you.”

    Garcia said he tries to create something special to show at Indian Market and enter into the juried art competition. “It’s nice to see all the other artists there — we talk just as friends,” he said of fellow Indian Market artists. “Every artist that comes to the Eiteljorg, they’re all good artists — every one of them.”


    The 25th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival is June 24-25 on the Eiteljorg Museum grounds, 500 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Please visit for more information and advance discount adult tickets.

  • Hoops, flutes, strings and stories will electrify the Indian Market stage

    by Bryan Corbin, editor, Storyteller Magazine | Jun 02, 2017

    Over the years, some remarkable musicians, dancers and storytellers have graced the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival stage: Robert Mirabal, Indigenous, Brulé, Pamyua, Nakota LaRance and many others. For the 25th annual Indian Market on June 24-25, two of the most requested acts make encore appearances: fiddle and flute player Arvel Bird, who performs as the “Celtic Indian,” and world champion hoop-dancer and flute player Tony Duncan. They each perform two sets both days.

    Arvel Bird (Southern Paiute) and Bearsheart Dancers (Lakota)

    The potent eclectic mix of music styles flying from the strings of Arvel Bird’s fiddle during his concerts will remind some listeners of epic Holly­wood films. “They can expect to see Braveheart meets Last of the Mohicans, at Woodstock,” Bird said of his performance on fiddle and Native American flute.

    Arvel Bird combines his dual heritage — Southern Paiute and Scottish — by fusing two music traditions into his original compositions. “I sing what would be classified as folk rock tunes, so you’ve got the instrumental element which is sweeping emotional kind of music, blended with songs of my Celtic and Native heritage,” he said.

    Arvel Bird (Southern Paiute), 2017 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival performer - photo courtesy of Michael PawlukWith classical training on violin, Bird performed in country music, was a member of Glen Campbell's touring band for several years and was based in Nashville. Bird was deeply influ­enced by Appalachian and Creole fiddle, but later he discovered a Native American fiddle style, Métis — named for an Indigenous group that spans Canada and the United States who descend from the intermarriage of European, Cree, Ojibwe and other Indigenous ancestors to form their own distinct culture. In Métis social dancing, fiddle became the central instrument, he said, replacing the drum. “So (onstage) I tell the story of the evolution of Native fiddling, how it started, how it spread, who introduced it to different parts of country.”

    His series of Animal Totems CDs were suggested by fans who heard his onstage perfor­mances of unrecorded songs and urged him to record them. “The stories (the fans) tell me of their experience of my music is what’s rewarding for me; it reaffirms and validates why I’m on the road and why I’m bringing my music to the people and why I have chosen to play my own music instead of being in someone’s band and playing their music,” he said.

    Now based in Cottonwood, Ariz., Bird noted concert fans tell him his fiddle performances inspired them to take up violin lessons or resume playing the instrument after giving it up. “Music is what connects us, I believe, to the natural world, to the unseen world, to our higher selves,” he said.

    At this year’s market, Arvel Bird will be joined onstage by Bearsheart Dancers, who perform traditional and non-traditional Sioux dance styles and drumming.

    Arvel Bird performs at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on both Saturday June 24 and Sunday June 25 at the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival.

    Tony Duncan (Apache/Arikara/Hidatsa)

    Mesmerizing is the only way to describe Tony Duncan’s hoop dancing. Onstage, his high-energy sequences of moves combine multiple spinning hoops to tell stories depicting shapes of animals and parts of nature. Duncan was a featured dancer in pop singer Nelly Furtado’s 2012 music video “Big Hoops,” and he toured with her in Europe and Asia. “The hoop dance is basically storytelling through dance,” Duncan said. “It’s definitely a very fun and energetic dance, but it also has a lot of meaning.”

    Tony Duncan (Apache, Arikara, Hidatsa), performer and hoop dancer at 2017 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival, photo courtesy of Tony Duncan ProductionsHis performances mix hoop dance styles and flute playing. Having recorded several flute albums on Canyon Records, Duncan recently released his new CD, Purify, where he switched from his longtime instrument, the river cane flute which has high birdlike melodies, to playing bass cedar flute, which has a deep tone “that just resonates right into your soul,” Duncan said.

    From Mesa, Ariz., Duncan recalled how performing cedar flute at the Grand Canyon inspired the new recording. “I think back to that time when all the visitors were gone and I got to play the flute right at the edge of the Grand Canyon, and looking into the canyon and watching all the hawks soaring in and out, catching the breeze. So while I’m in the studio, I think of those memories that brought me balance.”

    At this year’s Indian Market, Duncan will teach some basic hoop-dancing moves. “It’s basically a way to celebrate life and to show our appreciation and gratitude for our ancestors and spread that ‘good medicine’ to the people,” he said of his performances.

    Tony Duncan performs at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on both Saturday June 24 and Sunday June 25 at the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival.

    Both performances are included with regular admission to the 25th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival on June 24-25 at 500 W. Washington St. Indianapolis. Please visit for more information and advance discount adult tickets.






  • Adams bequest continues to enhance richness of museum exhibitions

    by Bryan Corbin, editor of Storyteller magazine | May 01, 2017

    This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine.

    During the three-month special exhibition Titan of the West: The Adams Collection of Western and Native American Art, thousands of Eiteljorg visitors were amazed by the Western paintings and Native objects that Houston busi­nessman Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams bequeathed to the museum in his will. The depth and breadth of the Adams bequest continues to enrich the museum’s exhibits and will inspire visitors for many years to come.


    Frank Tenney Johnson (American, 1874-1939)
    On the Camarillo Rancho, 1938
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Kenneth S. “Bud” and Nancy Adams

    In 2013 the museum inherited from Adams approximately 400 objects, including paintings, pottery, beadwork, weavings and other cultural items, the highlights of which were on public display during Titan of the West. Though the Adams exhibition closed Feb. 5, many of the works will be exhibited in the museum’s core galleries and elsewhere.

    First out of the gate is the Adams collection’s signature painting, the Frederic Remington oil entitled A Buck-jumper, ca. 1893. It will be on loan to the Denver Art Museum and then the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for The Western: An Epic in Art and Film beginning in May and running through early 2018. A Western action scene filled with movement as the cowboy rider strains to stay atop a bucking horse, the Remington painting is related to the artist’s exploration of the battle between nature and man as expressed in his iconic sculptures. 


    Frederic Remington
    A Buck-jumper, ca. 1893
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

    All of the other paintings from the Adams collection will stay at the Eiteljorg and many have been incorporated into the Western galleries. Some of the works are being con­served through a project made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    This is prelude to an even bigger change: By November 2018, the Western art galleries will be completely reinstalled, embracing the best of our collection from Harrison Eiteljorg, George Gund, Bud Adams and other donors to offer the public a much more exciting view of the Art of the West. 

    Among the many Adams collection works scheduled to go on exhibit are paintings by Frank Tenney Johnson, Charles Schreyvogel, William R. Leigh, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Joseph Sharp and more. These striking paintings will complement other works exhibited in the Western galleries and will help visitors appreciate the increasing scope and quality of the museum’s collection as a whole. The Bud and Nancy Adams collection will have a continuing impact on Eiteljorg exhibitions; notably the Native American objects in the Adams gift will be incorporated into plans for changing the second-floor exhibits.


    Joseph Henry Sharp (American, 1859–1953)
    Shelling Corn—Taos, 1937–1938
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

    An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, Bud Adams grew up in Oklahoma, attended Culver Military Academy, became a wealthy business executive in the Texas oil in­dustry and shaped professional football as a founder of the American Football League and owner of the NFL Tennessee Titans. An avid collector in his later years and proud of his Cherokee heritage, Bud Adams had an eye for paintings reflecting iconic Western scenes as well as Plains Indian art, while his wife Nancy Adams was particularly fond of landscapes of the West. 

    After Bud Adams’ death in 2013 at age 90, his unannounced bequest of his entire collection to the Eiteljorg came as a thunderbolt of good fortune to the museum. As the Eiteljorg gears up to redo its Western galleries in 2018 and Native American galleries by 2021, the Adams collection will play a significant role in the transformation of these exhibitions.

    When visitors streamed through the Titan of the West exhibition from Nov. 12 to Feb. 5, their sudden appreciation for the Adams’ generosity was reflected in their comments and long lingering pauses to gaze at paintings and objects, at times with unspoken awe. If you have not yet seen the Adams works, then look for several of them in the Western galleries, and see the Titan of the West book available in the museum store. And if you enjoyed the Titan of the West exhibition, visit the Eiteljorg again to get reacquainted with a few of these remarkable works.


    Thomas Moran (American, born in England, 1837-1926)
    The Grand Canyon, 1917
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

    Note: The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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