Walk into the season of art

Courtesy of Jackson Clark

Harvey Abeyta, on April 13, demonstrates a jewelry-making technique that dates from the time when the Spanish first encountered the Santo Domingo people in the 1500s at the Amerind Museum in Benson, Ariz. When the rope is twisted around the dowel and the flat piece is pushed down, the sharp metal spins against the stone or shell and drills a hole.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

May could serve as a beta test for that long-running idea to ban cars from downtown Main Avenue.

The town will be awash with foot traffic this weekend for the Durango Wine Experience, and subsequent weekends this month will bring the Spring Gallery Walk and Taste of Durango. So, call the monthly First Thursday Art Walk a dress rehearsal for walkers.

Many of the First Thursday galleries will see double duty Friday during the Wine Experience walkabout, but none is as tied to the event as Sorrel Sky Gallery. Thursday’s featured artist is Phyllis Stapler, whose signature canvases merging the flora and fauna should be instantly recognizable to many Durango art connoisseurs. Her painting, “Coyote,” is the official artwork of the Wine Experience.

“I’m just intrigued by the drama in the animal kingdom, how they relate to each other,” Stapler said. “It’s a bond I can’t break. (I’m) protective of them.”

Fans of Stapler’s work will have the chance to win a limited-edition print of “Coyote.” Attendees participating in Friday’s Walk-About Durango Tasting Challenge will be entered into a drawing after visiting all 12 tasting locations. “Coyote” will be on display from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Steamworks Brewing Co. for the Wine Experience Welcome Reception.

Only a few of the galleries chose the “and” option over the “or” option when it came to First Thursday and Spring Gallery Walk. Toh-Atin is one of the few. The Ninth Street gallery will host live art for First Thursday.

The husband and wife Santo Domingo Pueblo artists Harvey Abeyta and Pricilla Nieto have more than 80 years of combined jewelry-making experience, which isn’t unheard of among tribes of the Southwest.

What is unique is that they make their jewelry in the traditional manner without electric tools, drills and grinders. Nieto’s grandfather taught her to drill turquoise and shells using a hand pump.

Abeyta’s family did have electricity when he was growing up, and he learned to make jewelry using modern equipment, but after marrying Nieto he became accomplished with both kinds of tools. They will have their tools set up in Toh-Atin and will demonstrate their techniques on First Thursday.

Durango Arts Center will move its usual Friday dual opening up a day to participate in First Thursday. In the Barbara Conrad Gallery, “Celebrating Ute Culture” will feature hundreds of photographs and items on loan from private collections throughout the Southwest, including from the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes.

Traditional Ute tribal arts, including baskets, flutes, leatherwork, parfleche boxes, drums and beadwork will surround the centerpiece of the exhibit, a 12-foot Ute tipi that will be installed in the gallery by Nathan Strong Elk, director of the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum in Ignacio. Strong Elk will introduce the exhibit at Thursday’s opening and play the flute.

Terry Knight, Ute Mountain Ute Tribal historical preservationist, will present an overview of Ute Culture. Traditional Ute foods will be served and three films, “Gathering Willows,” “Song of the Basket” and “Ute Legacy,” will play continuously in the gallery from Thursday through Saturday. The exhibit includes several special events and workshops in May.

Also opening Thursday in the upstairs Art Library at DAC is “Fancy This,” an exhibit of mixed-media works by Juanita Ainsley of Bayfield. (A review of “Fancy This” will appear in Friday’s Durango Herald.)

ted@durangoherald.com

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