Celebrating Native Art – Artesian Arts Festival planned in Sulphur

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The Artesian Arts Festival will take place at the Artesian Plaza, adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa in Sulphur.
Potter Joanna Underwood’s work will be showcased at the Artesian Arts Festival.
The main entertainment stage.

Celebrating Native Art – Artesian Arts Festival planned in Sulphur

By Linda Miller

Dozens of Native artists, demonstrations, continuous entertainment and food vendors will be showcased during the annual Artesian Arts Festival May 23 at the Artesian Plaza in Sulphur.

Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation, the event is planned as a community celebration of all forms of art. The Artesian Plaza is adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa.

Paintings, baskets, jewelry, sculpture, metalworking, bead work, textiles and pottery will be on display at artist booths. Artists also will demonstrate and discuss their craft in the ARTesian Art Gallery.

Artists well known in Oklahoma and throughout the country will be featured, including Joanna Underwood, an acclaimed Chickasaw potter. Her works can be seen in a park called “Oka Chokmasi,” Chickasaw for “beautiful water,” just southwest of the Artesian Hotel.

Other artists scheduled to participate are Margaret Roach Wheeler and Mike Larsen. Wheeler’s textile art and historically accurate Native American fashions have been shown in national magazines and museums. Many of her intricate designs take weeks to complete.

Larsen is known as a “people painter” and two books showcase his stories and portraits of 48 Chickasaw elders. He painted an Oklahoma sunrise for the state’s centennial postage stamp, and he created “The Arrival” sculpture at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.

The festival also will offer activities for all ages, including an area for children’s activities and a senior citizens’ arts and crafts booth.

No festival is complete without music, so 16 bands will provide continuous entertainment on two stages. The lineup includes Injunuity, a band that blends various musical genres into a special Native sound. The band has won several Native American Music Awards (NAMMYS) and has headlined at foreign music festivals.

A variety of food vendors also will be set up on the Artesian Plaza.

The festival is free. More than 4,500 people attended last year’s inaugural event.
For more information about the Artesian Arts Festival, call the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts & Humanities at (580) 272-5520.

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