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  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Mary Downey, our Longest-Serving Employee

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg Festivals and Markets Manager | Feb 07, 2014


    Eiteljorg bookkeeper/office assistant Mary Downey on a fishing trip with her family in 1989, the year the Eiteljorg opened.

    Celebrating her 25 year anniversary along with the Eiteljorg is bookkeeper/office assistant, Mary Downey. She’s been here since the very beginning and has had many roles. She saw the original building built, knew Harrison Eiteljorg and has been part of every exhibit and event the museum has produced. She’s a great team member, and one of the people everyone on staff knows they can go to with a problem with the copier, finding obscure budget information, remembering something or someone from years ago, knowing how things used to be done and having great ideas for changes that could be made. Mary knows where all the bodies are buried!  [hahahahaha] We thought it would be great to hear from her for this week's Eiteljorg Insider!

    If you weren’t a bookkeeper, what would you be?
    That question still is not answerable. I’m not sure. Whatever God has planned is what I will be. I enjoy my job and all the folks I work with. We have a great team working here.

    What inspires you?
    Jesus inspires me. His love for all of us and how we should love one and other. My family, friends, nature…Life

    What should we ask you about your life that you want us to know about?
    I enjoy building puzzles. I love being in water either canoeing or swimming. My dog loves the water, too, so when we’re camping she becomes my swimming partner now that my two children are grown up.

    What was it like at the Eiteljorg 25 years ago?
    The building was not finished yet and we worked in another office building. One of my first jobs was helping answer phones for the executive secretary. There were not a lot of staff back then and we shared a large room with some cubicles. When we moved into the building, it was still under construction and noisy. We had earplugs so we could concentrate. Then we opened, and it has been changing ever since.

    What have been your favorite changes at the Eiteljorg in the last 25 years?
    Way better technology. I don’t want to date myself, but back then the letters on the computer screens were orange. Bigger building and the Annis Center with the stage coach. My very favorite time is Jingle Rails. I would love to have a set up like that in my house if I had a house that would hold it. There have been so many exhibits and events that it is hard to address them all, but I like Quest and Indian Market. I look forward to New Art starting up again. I can’t wait to see what is coming up in the next few years! Also, I now have my own (BIG!) office space – yahoo! (Pictured: Mary, with coworkers Dee and Lezlie).

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  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Photographer Blake Little

    by Johanna Blume, Eiteljorg Assistant Curator of Western Art | Jan 17, 2014

    Blake Little is a sought-after commercial and celebrity photographer in Los Angeles, and his client list includes publications such as Time and Entertainment Weekly, and celebrities Steve Carell, Colin Powell, and Jane Fonda. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he competed in the gay rodeo. On Saturday, Feb. 1, the Eiteljorg will open Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo. It showcases photos taken by Blake during that time.

    Johanna Blume, Eiteljorg assistant curator of western art, asked the renowned photographer five questions to help you learn about how he works, his favorite people and his dream project.

     1. If you had to spend a day not using any technology, what would you do? 
     If I was in LA, I would hike in the hills near my home and make a trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art or MOCA downtown and stop in a local neighborhood restaurant for a great lunch. 

     2. What do you listen to while you work?
    KCRW Radio (NPR's Local Station). It has the best music, news, and commentary. It’s one of the great things about LA.

     3. If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
     I would be a landscape architect, I love architecture and gardens. My mother taught me to garden and to appreciate the benefits of the earth.  

     4. If you could invite anyone to dinner who would it be and why? BONUS POINTS: What would you serve? 
     Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Nadav Kander; three incredible photographers I respect so much.  I would serve homemade pasta, fresh salad, dessert, and a great red wine.

     5. What’s your dream project?
    In June of 2012, I received an art grant to photograph cowboys in and around Calgary, Alberta. For 10 days we photographed cowboys and western culture; everyone from professional cowboys at the Calgary Stampede to feed lot workers in rural Nanton, AB.  I would love to do another grant project like this in Europe, Australia, or another part of the world.  It was so rewarding and creative to do an intense extended period of shooting on the subject of my choice with a full crew and production team…my dream project. 

     Here's a look at some of the photos you'll see in Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo.
    Gordon Fiedor
    Blake Little
    Gordon Fiedor Close Up, Los Angeles, California, 1989
    Image courtesy of Blake Little

    Blake Little
    Roping Practice, Scott Terry, Phoenix, Arizona, 1989
    Image courtesy of Blake Little

    Blake Little
    Chute Dogging, Phoenix, Arizona, 1989
    Image courtesy of Blake Little

    The Eiteljorg plans to travel Blake Little nationally after the exhibit closes on July 13, 2014. The timeline and venues for the traveling exhibit are to be determined.

    Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo and associated public programs, at the Eiteljorg are a part of the museum’s Out West series. The series, created and produced by independent curator Gregory Hinton, illuminate the many contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities of the American West, and celebrate the diversity of the region.

    Meet Blake Little Friday, Jan. 31, at the opening party for his exhibit.

    Opening night preview party
    Friday, Jan. 31
    $20 per person for members
    $30 per person for nonmembers
    6:00 p.m.        Complimentary wine and food pairing course
    6:45 p.m.        Performance by the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus
    7:15 p.m.        Tour the exhibit with the artist

    Opening day
    Saturday, Feb. 1
    Included with general admission
    12:30 p.m.      Indy Men’s Chorus performs
    1:30 p.m.        Blake Little special program featuring Little, curators and gay rodeo participants
    3:00 p.m.        Informal gallery talks with visitors

     Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo is proudly sponsored by the Eiteljorg Museum with additional support provided by William L. Fortune, Jr. and Joe Blakely.

    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Contemporary Curator Jennifer Complo McNutt

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Oct 14, 2013

    We caught up with the Eiteljorg’s curator of contemporary art after a hectic week of working with photographers for images for the upcoming Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship publication. Jennifer believes the Eiteljorg has the greatest collection of Native American fine art in the world. She should know. She’s been with the museum since 1991 – just two years after we opened – and has been instrumental in building the collection.

    Contemporary curator Jennifer Complo McNutt

    Favorite piece of art in the Eiteljorg collection: One favorite is Dry Ditch by Kenneth Miller Adams. Jennifer is a painter at heart. Kenneth Miller Adams, The Dry Ditch, 1964The strong slightly exaggerated triangular composition is a sight for sore eyes; the dry methodic application of paint mirrors the oppressive unrelenting heat; the figures expressions and gestures pulling them down; and the wiggling upturned posture of the child is hope, perseverance, why we don't give up, what we give for the future.

     1. What inspires you?
    A world without blogs. Living with dogs. Helping ideas become real. Making art accessible to everyone, no matter how complicated it is.

     2. If you could steal any piece of art in the world to have in your home, what would it be?
    If I am going to steal anything it wouldn’t be art. . .steal a glance, steal a moment, steal away. . .

     3. If you weren’t a museum curator, what would you do?
    Whatever I had to. . .

     4. Do you collect anything?
    Yes. Denzel Washington. My collection is currently incomplete.

     5. If you could spend the afternoon with anyone – living or dead – who would it be?
    I try not to spend time with dead people. If I choose a dead person to hang out with it would be my father. A living person: Bill Clinton, hands down. What do they both have in common? They were/are smart and funny. Forget smart without funny . . . that’s not smart.

    Pictured above:
    Kenneth Adams (American, 1897-1966)
    The Dry Ditch, 1964
    Oil on canvas
    Gift Courtesy of Harrison Eiteljorg

    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg Insider | 5 Questions with Navajo Rug Auctioneer Sherri Burnham

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg Festivals and Markets Manager | Oct 04, 2013

    As the general manager of her family business, RB Burnham & Co Trading, Sherri manages the daily operations in the Sanders, AZ trading post as well as all of the 15-17 auctions they produce and conduct, including the Navajo Rug Auction at the Eiteljorg on Oct. 5. She is the fifth generation in her family to work in the business of trading among the Navajo people, and has been doing it for over 17 years. As a Navajo, it is important to Sherri to do what she can to help maintain and preserve cultural traditions.

    If you could invite any artist to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would love to spend an evening with the late artist RC Gorman. Not only is his art iconic in the southwest, he was also quite a charismatic character. I've heard many stories about him and would loved to have shared a meal with him and his entourage just to learn more about what inspired him.

    How do you spend most of your time?
    While not at work or on the road chasing auctions, I spend most of my time gardening and in the kitchen.

    What book are you reading right now?
    I just finished The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich. I am currently trying to read all of her works and am about half way through the list.

    If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab?
    I think I would take as many photo albums as I could, granted that my family was safely out as well. My family home burned down when I was a child and somehow my parents saved our family albums and that seemed most important then and now.

    What sound do you love?
    I love being in the forest listening to birds chirp and the wind rustle the tree branches.
     


    NAVAJO RUG AUCTION THIS SATURDAY, OCT. 5.
    Browse and bid on more than 200 vintage and contemporary weavings during this year’s auction, presented by R.B. Burnham & Co. Prices ranges from $100 to $10,000.

    IF YOU GO:
    Members only preview 
    8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
    Opens to the public      
    9:30 a.m. 
    Auction begins                        
    11:30 a.m.

    Go comment!




  • Eiteljorg Insider | Five Questions with TWO SPIRITS director Lydia Nibley

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and events manager | Sep 25, 2013


    Two Spirits director Lydia Nibley

    Lydia Nibley's Two Spirits is the powerful documentary that tells the story of Fred Martinez – a Navajo boy who was beaten to death because his killer believed he was gay. Martinez actually considered himself “Two-Spirit,” or “nadleehi” – a Navajo term for a male-bodied person with a feminine essence.

    At 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28,  Two Spirits will be screened at the Eiteljorg. The film explores the bullying and violence commonly faced by LGBT people, and the epidemic of LGBT teen suicide. It also reveals the range of gender expression long seen as a healthy part of many of the indigenous cultures of North America.

    Lydia will join an expert panel this Saturday, at the museum, to discuss her award-winning film. But we wanted Eiteljorg visitors to learn a little more about our honored guest before she arrives.

    What is your favorite piece of artwork at the Eiteljorg?
    I feel drawn to historic artifacts that connect me to the people who came before—clothing and objects that were used every day.

    What inspires you?
    Finding stories to tell that can make a difference by opening hearts and minds to a new perspective.

    If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
    With my film Two Spirits in mind, Hastiin Klah, 1867-1937, the great Navajo medicine person, sandpainter and weaver who was third-gender. It would be fascinating to spend an afternoon in his company.  

    What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    Patti Smith, who provided music for Two Spirits says, “It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.” I love that.

     What is one of your favorite quotes?
    “Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran

    What should we ask you that you want us to know about?
    Will you ask me what’s next for Two Spirits? Thanks for asking! We’re working hard (with mixed success) to make the case to philanthropists and foundations that the film needs to be available in more colleges, universities, high schools and libraries nationwide. We get such great reports about the impact of the film—suicide prevention, anti-bullying, deepening the conversation around sexuality and gender in ways that make a difference now and in the future. We’re just going to keep asking for support and hoping…and asking.

    For more information about Two Spirits, visit www.twospirits.org

    HOW YOU CAN HELP FUND TWO SPIRITS

    The museum is asking for the community's support through the Power2Give project -which empowers you to give directly to local arts projects you are passionate about. It will cost $4,900 to bring the Two Spirits presentation to the Eiteljorg. Chase Bank is matching the dollars - but if we don't raise the full amount, the matching money goes away.

    As of Sept. 26, the Eiteljorg needs $1,635 to fully fund this LGBT program.  Any dollar amount helps.

    Go comment!
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