Sunday, August 19, 2012
Finding Marcus Cadman: The 91st Annual Indian Market
By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) -- Imagine a city plaza—founded in 1608—with adobe lined buildings, a central park, beautiful trees, and mountains looming in the background. Add on to that image a large cathedral church, museums, and thousands of people wandering the streets looking at amazing works of pottery, paintings, blankets, jewelry, among an assortment of other artistic works.
The Indian Market turns 91-years old this year. If my math serves me correctly, this means that the market began somewhere between 1921 and 1922. The SWAIA website supports my calculation.
It states, “It was in 1922 that the Indian Fair was created by the Museum of New Mexico as part of the Santa Fe Fiesta celebration. The Museum continued to sponsor the Indian Fair until 1926. In 1936 the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs took over the event. It was also in 1922 that the New Mexico Association on Indian Affairs (NMAIA) was founded to help fight the U.S. Senate's proposed Bursum Bill, which would have illegally given an enormous amount of Pueblo land to Spanish and American squatters. The first Indian Fair in 1922 was developed by the Museum of New Mexico as the ethnological display of the Santa Fe Fiesta.”
For those not around in 1922, a few of reminders are in store: it was the year Michael Collins became leader of the new Irish Government; the year James Joyce published his book, Ulysses; the year Joseph Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the Soviet Union; the year the BBC is formed; the year Mussolini became Premier in Italy; the year King Tut’s tomb was discovered in Egypt; the year Adolph Hitler completed his first year as head of the Nazi party; and the year Gandhi was arrested in India.
It was a busy year.
But over here in the newly formed state of New Mexico (signed by President Taft in 1912), it was the year of highlighting Native arts and culture.
So, what is the Indian Market?
According to SWAIA website, it “is the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world and the largest cultural event in the southwest. The yearly event is held during the third weekend of August. Over 1,100 Native artists from the U.S. and Canada sell their artwork. The Indian Market attracts 100,000 visitors to Santa Fe from all over the world.”
Since moving back to New Mexico in 2008, I, for one, have made it a yearly part of my life. I drag along my wife and kids, taking to the street to soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of this prestigious event.
Over it’s 91-years, the Indian Market has morphed into a festival of arts extraordinaire. It’s akin to a movie production set: lights, camera, and action. It’s big, bold, and beautiful.
But put another way, his art has been a reminder of a milestone move for me; a quest to hear God’s voice in the midst of life’s ongoing journey.
I first stumbled upon Marcus’ work while driving from California to Albuquerque. The year was 2008; March to be exact. I was on my way to talk with Dr. Skip Heitzig about an opening at Connection Communications in publishing.
I had spent the past eight years in Southern California working as publisher, principal, IPTV and radio host. And the thought of coming back to New Mexico, the state of my childhood, was a dream I held for years.
So my wife Melanie and I set out across the desert. This in-and- of-itself was a huge leap. We were actually scheduled to be in Austria the same week. But the day before we were to fly to Europe, I cancelled that flight. In place of the European voyage, we jumped in our car and headed west for another journey.
It was at a stop in Gallup, New Mexico that I picked up the March 2008 edition of The Navajo Times. In the Arts section was an article entitled, The Struggle of Identity. It was an article about Marcus Cadman.
In this piece, Marcus discussed his art and his quest to bridge the gap between two worlds: native and non-native; Christian and traditional; Indian and non-Indian. It was an intriguing article.
Working in the “pop” style of art, Marcus uses bold colors and singular images to convey deep meaning. As a backdrop to the strong imagery, he’ll use money, bingo cards, and other thought-proving items. But it was his use of Bible text as a backdrop that caught my attention at the time.
Why did he use Bible verses behind images of Native Americans and Native symbols? What was he communicating, I thought?
During last year’s Indian Market I asked Marcus why he used Bible text in his work. He said that his parents were Christians, and in a way, he is honoring both his family’s Christian heritage with the Navajo way.
During this year’s market, my wife, Melanie, got to talk with Marcus’ father. He told Melanie that he served in World War II on the USS Arizona. He fought in Pearl Harbor. He proudly wore his commemorative hat. He had one foot in the “American” way of life, and one foot, as a Navajo man, in the Native American way of life.
In a way, Marcus’ father represents what Marcus paints: a tapestry of culture, combining the Navajo search for beauty and harmony, mixed with a Western, or Christian, understanding of providence, ethics, and philosophical questions of existence. And vice versa.
Like my journey to Albuquerque in 2008, seeking direction and insight for a new path; so to are the many Native American artists whose work incorporates modern themes, images, and concepts. These Native artists are finding their own voyage in the midst of the American landscape and culture, seeking to bridge the gap between two worlds that have not always found peace.
Maybe artists like Marcus Cadman can be a pathfinder, a new frontiersman, showing us a way forward, highlighting the noble history of each culture, and in turn pave new paths for deeper understanding of both.
Maybe finding an artist is more than just discovering art; it is the discovery of a new perspective that reminds us of our own journey to a place where ideas matter, bringing civility out of discourtesy; love out of hate; peace from war; and learning to do unto others as we’d have them do unto you.
It’s a journey worth taking.
To learn more about Santa Fe’s Indian market, click here: http://swaia.org
To find out more about Marcus Cadman, go to his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marcus-Cadman-Native-American-Paintings-and-Sculptures/163136517067015
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.