Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Hoop Dancing Champion Heads to Eiteljorg Indian Market & Festival

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | May 01, 2013

    As the Eiteljorg’s festival and markets manager, each year I plan what I hope will be an exciting entertainment schedule for Indian Market and Festival. My goal is to fill the stage with mesmerizing, educational, straight-up fun performances. This year will not disappoint! We’re excited to bring five-time world champion hoop dancer Tony Duncan (Apache/Arikara/Hidatsa) to make his Indian Market debut June 22 and 23!

    Duncan told Indian Country newspaper, he believes people should “Dream big. Whatever it is you love to do, do that. Practice, practice, practice!”

    So, you might be wondering, what is hoop dancing?
    In hoop dancing, dancers use colorful hoops and their bodies to tell stories, creating shapes with the hoops – for example, animals, flowers and eagles. But trying to describe it with words doesn’t work. You have to see it to really appreciate the artistry and athleticism that go into being a hoop dancer.

    Click for video

    Tony embodies the idea of tradition playing an important role in contemporary life. Traditional hoop dance was ceremonial and has evolved into a storytelling art. After winning his fifth world championship, Tony was approached by Canadian recording artist Nelly Furtado about performing in the video for “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better). He jumped at the chance to combine traditional dance with contemporary dance music. He loved the experience and joined Nelly on a world tour and on mainstream stages like the Billboard Music Awards and The Tonight Show.

    Click for video

    For Tony, hoop dancing is special. Here's what he told Indian Country about what hoop dancing has meant to him:  “It's very inviting—a hoop is laying there and you just want to pick it up and start spinning it and jump through it. My father taught me when I was 5 years old, and since then I've just loved dancing. The hoop teaches us many things, primarily, having respect for all of life and life’s creations. It teaches us about the different cycles of life, the changing seasons upon Mother Earth, as well as the seasons of our own lives. All of life dances in a circle and we’re all connected. It’s a very exciting yet spiritual dance, there's nothing else like it.”

    Please visit Power 2 Give to find out how you can help bring Tony Duncan and his dance group to Indian Market and Festival.

    Over the years, the Indian Market & Festival stage has been graced by a diverse mix of traditional and contemporary representations of Native cultures: flutes, drums, electric guitars and didgeridoos; stories about raven, coyote and other animal teachers; stories about cell phones, airplanes and modern life; songs in English, Lakota, Navajo, Tsimshian and Inuit; traditional dancers with superman tattoos; and contemporary singers wearing regalia. This mixture of past and present is evidence of vibrant Native cultures and part of what makes Indian Market such a great event. 

    We hope to see you June 22 and 23! Be sure to catch Tony Duncan's performance. And, if you've ever seen hoop dancing, tell us about your experience in our comments section!

    Jaq Nigg
    Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager 



  • The Guitars! iPod Touch Experience

    by Dolly Hayde, Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow | Apr 29, 2013

    Here at the Eiteljorg, we care deeply about “Telling Amazing Stories,” but like anybody, we learn a lot of what we know through listening to you. As an Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow, I get to read comment cards given to us by our visitors. My role is to analyze feedback from specific exhibits and programs.

    Right now, I’m working on analyzing the Guitars! Roundups to Rockers iPod experience! When our visitors tour Guitars! they have the opportunity to listen to nearly three hours of extra guitars content, like guitar technique demonstrations and historic recordings on iPod Touch devices.  I give visitors a map of the exhibit and ask them to draw their paths. Next, I have them talk a little about how using a playlist shaped their time in the gallery. I also ask them which tracks they enjoyed most, and why.  I have never had more fun with an interview question. Here’s a look at the many names that come up:

    The thing about music is that it acts as a direct line to emotions and memories - the territory of most really good stories. By talking to visitors during this evaluation, I’ve learned that it’s not just “Purple Haze;” for some, it’s a rich memory of what it was like to be at Woodstock.  As someone who doesn’t play guitar, I’ve been painstakingly given a whole new appreciation for the inspirational qualities of “Eruption.” I have had the peculiar joy of watching a 12-year-old guitarist’s face light up when talking about playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” 

    As you might expect, most people tell me about their favorite songs and artists. I really like hearing visitors talk about what they know and love, but the most exciting stories are the ones about discovery. Musicians in awe of hearing a harp guitar for the first time and fans intrigued by the sounds of new Western heroes remind me of the power listening has to explain, confirm, and inspire.

    You might wonder what we do with your feedback. Here’s the short answer: Our staff members collect and organize them, then pass individual answers on to particular departments as needed. Your input can explain issues, confirm needs, and inspire new offerings. Simply put, it helps us understand how to improve our own storytelling.

    So, which track from the iPod playlist did you like best, and why? Leave a comment here or, better yet, come tell us in person. We look forward to hearing your stories.

    Dolly Hayde
    Eiteljorg Visitor Experience Fellow

    Go comment!

  • Learn the history of the American guitar in a special presentation

    by User Not Found | Apr 26, 2013

    Mark your calendars for Sunday, May 5! That’s when C.F. Martin & Co. historian/guitar expert, Dick Boak, will take participants through an interactive journey of the history of the American guitar. Dick’s presentation will showcase the 180-year-old Martin company, as well as the evolution of its acoustic guitars.

                                                  (Left) 1834 Martin Stauffer, (Right) 1945 Martin D 45

    The presentation will be supplemented with demonstrative guitar "vignettes" of appropriate period pieces on an assortment of evolutionary Martin designs by acoustic guitarist Steve Reno of Reno's Music in Fishers, IN.

    Dick has been inextricably intertwined with C.F. Martin, in Nazareth, PA, for more than 35 years. He established and managed Martin’s Artist Relations and Limited Edition guitar program which produced signature models for more than 100 legendary artists, including Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, John Mayer and Sting. He is an accomplished guitarmaker, woodworker, musician, illustrator and writer. Following the discussion, Dick will be available to sign copies of three books, Martin Guitar Masterpieces, Martin Guitars: A History and Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference.

    Martin acoustic guitars continue to be prized for their tone, consistency, quality and attention to handcrafted detail. Professional and amateur musicians in every category of music hold Martin guitars in high esteem.

    The list of Martin players, past and present, reads like a "Who’s Who" of the musical world and includes legends such as Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Hank Williams, Sr., Jimmy Buffett, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Sting, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and countless others. In addition to guitarmaking, Martin is also one of the world’s largest manufacturers of musical strings.

    C.F. Martin & Co. was founded by Christian Frederick Martin Sr. in 1833. It remains the oldest surviving maker of guitars in the world.

    So, whether you’re a self-proclaimed guitar geek, novice string strummer, or just a fan of music history, come join us! Sunday May 5 is sure to be a very special afternoon with a man whose heart and hands have had a mighty influence on some of American’s favorite riffmeisters.

    While you're here, check out Guitars! Roundups to Rockers. More than 100 guitars—owned by greats including Roy Rogers, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Buddy Holly and others— are on display.

    Photos for this post are courtesy of C. F. Martin Archives.

    DeShong Perry-Smitherman, Eiteljorg Public Relations Manager
    Contact me at for interviews with Dick Boak or Steve Reno. Follow me on Twitter @DeShongPerry.

    Go comment!

  • Why there are 62 body bags inside the Eiteljorg

    by User Not Found | Apr 25, 2013

                                    Bonnie Devine (Ojibwa),Manitoba, 2010, 62 Pandemic Body Bags

    Bonnie Devine’s work, Manitoba, is a powerful piece that is not to be missed. A prominent Canadian First Nation woman and 2011 Eiteljorg Fellow, Devine is a multi-talented sculpture and installation artist, as well as a curator and writer. Devine’s work often deals with issues of her culture, the environment and the Canadian (mis)treatment of First Nations people. Her work, Manitoba, is created with the use of 62 body bags, sent to a reservation in response to request for help during a pandemic.

    Robert Houle (Saulteaux), another prominent First Nation artist and 2003 Eiteljorg Fellow states this about Devine’s installation:

    "Manitoba is a story of surviving influenza and how pandemic body bags were callously sent to the Cree community of St. Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba in 2009. The government of Canada delivered an ominous message by sending dozens of body bags in shipments of medical supplies for the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Once again, in the spirit of solidarity, Devine confronts any obstacle to human dignity with the compassionate rigor of a warrior. As a mother would take pains to comfort a child, Devine takes trauma to heal societal inequities."

    As the label in the Eiteljorg gallery reads: “This act is reminiscent of Native peoples being given blankets that were full of smallpox. Governments are clever, but rarely compassionate, especially to the first peoples (Jennifer Complo-McNutt, Eiteljorg Curator of Contemporary Art).”

    Visitors are invited to interact with the piece in a very intimate way. They can walk amongst the bags and see the individual names of reserves in Manitoba. Every person’s reaction is different. Adults often stand back in reverence or horror, confronted by the meanings of the body bags. Children are often seen running in and out of the maze-like installation or talking with adults to try and better understand the work. While every visitor’s reaction to Manitoba is different, it is definitely an installation you do not want to miss experiencing in person.

    Manitoba is one of several works installed in our contemporary galleries by Canadian First Nations artists. On display in the Harvey gallery is Home and Garden, 2009, Edward Poitras’ (Gordon First Nation) large-scale installation. In the Hurt gallery, visitors can see Faye HeavyShield’s (Kainai-Blood) quiet but powerful piece, hours.

    Have you visited Manitoba? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment space below.

    Ashley Holland

    Ashley Holland
    Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art



  • How We Made Noise with Guitars!

    by User Not Found | Apr 23, 2013

    Several pictures of Eiteljorg staff members talking to the media 

    On a chilly Tuesday afternoon in December 2012, I sat in the hot seat at the Eiteljorg. It was my second interview for a PR Manager job - and I was sitting at a boardroom table with curators, vice presidents and other decision makers. They all wanted to know whether I had what it took to get the word out about the upcoming Guitars! exhibit.

    Sitting there in my pinstripes, with butterflies in my belly, my goal was to make believers of this crew of quizmasters. As a longtime television news producer, I knew how to sell a vision. I knew this museum was about to install something very special - something that deserved placement on every local TV news and radio station and in every major print publication in this market. I also knew that upcoming exhibits and events like Indian Market & Festival and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship ought to be on this city’s radar.


    I made promises and shared some of my personal strategies for reeling in media. Pretty soon I had a couple of them smiling. Others were bobbing their heads to the beat of my ideas. And the one inquisitor who threw me for several loops finally started easing off that deadly serious side-eye smirk! After my interview with CEO John Vanausdall, I learned I had landed this dream job. But now it was time to deliver --- and fast!


    I started February 1. Guitars! opened March 9. That gave me a month to get coverage commitments. But before I could do that, I needed to talk to our curators, programming team and collections director about schedules, photography rules and vault tour authorizations.


    Thanks to our curators, collections and public programming teams, the stories behind our treasured guitars were able to come to life in print, broadcast and social media. And my media Wall of Fame is growing! 

    TheIndianapolis Star did a fascinating tour of our vault with our curators. NUVO previewed, then reviewed the show. The Indianapolis Recorder ran a story I wrote about jazz man Charlie Christian’s fabled guitar and the late player’s legacy. And Lou Harry, from the Indianapolis Business Journal, wrote a kick-booty piece called “Eiteljorg shows how the West was strummed.”  Then, there were the endless radio interviews. James and Johanna talked Guitars! on Bob and Tom, WFYI (twice), WIBC, WICR (twice) "Indiana This Week" and HANK-FM. And, we welcomed all the TV stations in this market: WTHR came opening day, WISH did four segments with Dick Wolfsie, WRTV ran previews in three newscasts and FOX-59 produced morning segments with feature reporter Sherman Burdette, and WFYI showcased Guitars in a 30-minute show called "Art of the Matter."  Pretty soon, our museum, known for its quiet, calming personality, was making a lot of noise!

    Now, nearly two months after the grand opening, Guitars! is still a hit. We’re packed on programming days and seeing a 30 percent hike in visitors over last year, when we hosted the popular Steel Ponies motorcycle exhibit. People leave our home feeling excited, inspired and culturally rich.


    I’m overjoyed about being able to share in part of the success of Guitars! So glad I was able to get a smile out of “side-eye” that chilly December day.  

    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Eiteljorg Public Relations Manager
    (I'm pictured on the left. That's my equally fierce coworker, Registrar Christa Barleben on my right)

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