A Peace of Art in Ajo, Ariz.

While you can expect to see more on Border Beat, from the live coverage to the upcoming special project, I thought I would touch on the art I was able to witness at the Ajo Peace Festival, last Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Since we arrived a bit early, while we were waiting for the parade to begin, the first thing that caught my attention were the decorations surrounding the historic Ajo Plaza. Colorful peace-themed 4’ x 8’ wooden murals sponsored by local businesses, designed by local artists and painted by the community lined the perimeter of the festival grounds. Without giving away too much of what is yet to come, below is one example of the wooden murals expressing peace.

Next, the music following the parade caught my attention as drums, dancing and upbeat rhythms began throughout the plaza. The Batucaxe Brazilian Dancers of Tucson used percussion instruments and dancing to express peace for our nation while showing their support in Ajo on the 8th annual International Day of Peace.

There was much more I could give away pertaining to the wonderful art, music and symbols of peace from the festival in Ajo last week, but you will just have to check into Border Beat on Wednesday, Oct. 5 to see the completed project!


International Day of Peace Celebration: Ajo, Ariz.

This Wednesday, Sept. 21 I will be traveling to Ajo, Ariz. for the 8th annual International Day of Peace celebration in Ajo, Ariz., however yesterday (Sunday, Sept. 18) a community wide kickoff was held at the historic Ajo Plaza. The International Day of Peace celebration brings together Ajo’s three cultures, – Hispanic, Tohono O’odham and Anglo – in a fun, celebratory way that highlights respect for its diversity, its individuals,  families, and the community. Since Ajo Ariz., is located about 40 miles from the Mexican border and next to the Tohono O’odham nation, it is a crossroads of three nations. The United Nations General Assembly in 1981 passed resolution 36/67 declaring an International Day of Peace and in 2001 it declared September 21 of each year the official date for the international celebration and observation.

On Wednesday, the local school youth will join youth from the Tohono O’odham Nation and Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico  in an After School Peace Festival on the Ajo school campus on Well  Rd. and prepare for their peace parade to the Ajo Plaza. There will be tons of entertainment, food, dancing, and vendors in the celebration uniting the three nations.

The kickoff event yesterday consisted of a free community ice cream social, and Mariachi music with Ajo native vocalist and guitarist, Randy Albaugh. Albaugh has participated in International Peace Day in the past and did not let his hometown down this year either. Check out his song “Todo Perdido” which he wrote in 2009.

Artist Highlight: Howard Terpning

This past weekend I made a trip to Scottsdale, Ariz. to visit my Grandmother. Originally from New York, my Grandmother moved with my Grandfather out to Scottsdale to escape the cold east coast winters and humid summers. Along with the house they built overlooking Paradise Valley and Camelback Mountain, they made sure to decorate their new home with traditional Southwestern art and furnishings.

Keeping my blog topic, art across all borders in mind, I was inspired when I asked about the countless framed paintings lining the walls of the kitchen, living room, TV room and all of the bedrooms inside my Grandmother’s home. To my surprise, all but one of the paintings were created by an award-winning local Tucson artist, Howard Terpning. In addition to the Terpning paintings, along the walls, on a table in the center of the living room sits a book flipped open on display titled, “The Storyteller,” featuring all of Terpning’s paintings and drawings with descriptions and history. Terpning is best known for his work of the “glory days” of the Plains Indians and became known as the Storyteller of the Native American.

One piece of Terpning’s work that stood out to me both in the book and hanging up on the wall in the house was of three Indian men sitting together, entitled, “The Spectators.” The drawing, as pictured below is in black and white, which is a special edition and the original piece also pictured from “The Storyteller” is in full color. “The Spectators,” won a Cowboy Artists of America Silver award in 1980.


Fetishes and Their Meanings

Morning Star Traders, a locally owned shop specializing in fine American Indian Art is home to jewelry, Navajo rugs, baskets, Yaqui masks, pottery, Mexican jewelry, fetishes, books, pendleton blankets and so much more. When I entered the shop located on East Speedway in Tucson, I was taken aback by the amount of antique items they had in this cute little house, which turned out to be a lot bigger inside. Sheila Kennedy, an extremely knowledgeable sales person at Morning Star Traders, was showing a customer various bear fetishes. I was interested in the information she was revealing and started to listen closely. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a fetish was. It turns out there is so much more behind a fetish then its cute animal structure. Here are a few facts Sheila shared with me:

Everything has a spirit whether it’s living or not.
All animals have spirits.
A fetish is an object which is believed to have magic powers.
Fetishes may be any form or material.
A fetish has one purpose; to assist man against any real or potential problems.
If we have something such as an image of an animal, and we have it and hold it, it gives us some of the powers that animal has.

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The Indians of the Southwest have used fetishes throughout much of recorded history. A fetish can be owned by an individual, a family, a clan, or an entire tribe, but whoever is responsible must take special care to make sure the fetish is properly fed, admired and cared for. They are believed to feed on cornmeal while they are kept in a special pot or pouch. The power and strength of a fetish is obtained by placing the nostrils of the fetish to one’s mouth and taking deep breaths.